Can you control your thoughts?

The answer is yes. But it’s a rabbit hole of a topic.

Let’s step back for a moment… Across the ages and across cultures, religions and philosophies, there is a simple truth that is shared – that the control of our consciousness determines the quality of our life. In fact, all of these philosophers and disciplines (Aristotle, Socrates, Stoicism, Christian Monastic Orders, Buddhism, Taoism, etc) seek to free ourselves (our consciousness) from the influence of outside biological and social forces.

‘The mind is everything; what you think, you become.’


If there is one skill worth mastering, this is it. Our reward is a more enjoyable, richer and more meaningful life, in which we are equipped to deal with obstacles and suffering.

So how do you control your thoughts?

How do you gain control over your thoughts and therefore, to a large degree, your emotions? How can you work towards ridding yourself of your anxieties and fears and become freer of the controls of societal pressures?

First thing first: how does consciousness work? Your consciousness results from a combination of the incredibly complex architecture of your nervous system and your choices. We have to work with and alongside our nervous system. You could think of your nervous system as a vehicle. You can get into the driver’s seat and take some control of how you want to think, act and ultimately feel about your world.

Our consciousness is an extraordinary machine that takes internal and external information and processes it to create meaning and actions. Our consciousness sieves through our perceptions, ideas, feelings and sensations, and then prioritises this vast amount of information.

‘Learning to control our consciousness is equivalent to gaining a human superpower.’

Signposts for Living, Dr Kirsten Hunter

Our brain functions in two ways; we have a primitive brain and a higher-order brain. Our higher order brain (executive functioning) allows us to have the ability to contemplate, to create, to analyse. This means we can imagine wonderful creations and theories – but we can also create in our minds irrational and false interpretations of events that cause us great fear when we believe them. We can use our consciousness to be cruel to ourselves.

Regardless of what is actually happening in our outside worlds, we can make ourselves miserable rather than happy, purely by losing control of our consciousness. Two people may see exactly the same event, but one may transform a hopeless situation into challenges to overcome, while the other sees defeat and disaster. You can learn to control your consciousness so that you persevere despite setbacks and obstacles. This is an amazing skill that sets a person up to succeed and to enjoy more of life.

Controlling your consciousness means controlling what happens in your thoughts from moment to moment. This involves mindful self-inquiry. To understand how consciousness works we first need to look at the mechanics of controlling our consciousness, and then we will can focus on increasing our moment-to-moment choices and awareness. The skills involved in ‘how to control your consciousness’ are covered in the first of my SIGNPOSTS FOR LIVING book series; CONTROLLING YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS. Grab it at any online bookstore.

Wish you well, take care.


Dr Kirsten Hunter

Dr Kirsten Hunter is a Clinical Psychologist of 22 years. She works with children, teenagers, adults and couples.

Kirsten has written 6 DIY psychology books (Signposts for Living) and 4 Child Psychology picture books (SQUISH Series).

Kirsten is the mother to 5 beautiful boys. Alongside her husband Jon, she loves scuba diving and getting lost in nature.

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