Thoughts Don't Control Actions

Dr. Byanjana Sharma


The generic statement, 'Our thoughts control our actions,' seems to be used an awful lot. On the surface level, it seems true too. For instance, if someone is thinking, 'I don't want to speak to these people,' they are most likely going to avoid making eye contact with “those people” or pretend not to see them. However, this may not be the case in all circumstances. If we go a bit deeper and ask ourselves, "Do our thoughts really control our actions?" The answer will certainly be, "Not necessarily." 

I remember Cristina Comencini's novel 'When the night' when I think of just how often our actions do not match our thoughts in the slightest. The main characters of the novel, Marina and Manfred have very wild thoughts towards each other, but when they come face to face their actions do not follow their thoughts. For example, there comes a situation where Manfred carries Marina's two-year-old son and walks ahead of her, then gradually disappears from her sight. Marina gets frustrated and thinks like, ‘How dare that bastard take my son away from me! When I get him I'll kill that asshole!’ But when she eventually meets Manfred acts very polite, confident and friendly and says, "Thank you for carrying my child. This really helps me." That was certainly not what she was thinking, though.

Similarly, in his book 'The confidence gap: From fear to freedom', Dr Russ Harris gives an example of Joe Simpson (writer of the book 'Touching the void') who was freezing cold and in terrible agony because his right leg was broken clean and his knee was completely shattered. His climbing partner had left him for dead at the bottom of a huge crevasse.

In such a desperate situation Joe, who did not have food, water or fuel for a fire, also thought that he was definitely going to die on a deserted mountain. However, in stark contrast to his thoughts, Joe did not wait there for the release of death. In action, he mustered all his courage and crawled out of the crevasse dragging his mangled leg behind him and made his way back to base camp. If he had listened to his mind which was telling him that all his efforts were futile and in vain, Joe would have never made it out of that crevasse. Instead, he focused on his actions and eventually made it out of his precarious predicament.

Our mind can trick us easily. It is said that at least sixty thousand thoughts pop up in our mind in a single day, and most of them are negative. So we must be aware of the fact that particularly the negative thoughts cannot hold us back from reaching our goal. We should not trust those thoughts which try to limit us, but like Joe Simpson, we should immediately act upon the thing that we want to achieve. Our thoughts do not control us, we control ourselves. Thoughts come and go, but actions show us success.  

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