What’s your view on the idea “As you think, so you shall be”

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    Hi all, I’m a newbie and I’m loving looking around this great site.

    I’ve been reading the brilliant book, “Stop Thinking, Start Living “by the impressive Richard Carlson. In the first chapter he says “As you think so you shall be” but then later on in the same book he says “You are not your thoughts” which has caused me great confusion as to what exactly he means? Is this not a contradictory statement?

    For me, I would of always had the view that you are your thoughts as they influence your emotions which power everything else. Good thoughts, good mood (emotions) good actions. But as someone who has a tendency to over think (much like the basis of this post) and be negative I found the idea that I’m not my thoughts liberating and that I could just let them go if not serving me.

    But these two, what I think are contradictory statements, are causing me some internal discomfort. What do you guys think??


    Hi Danny ,

    I will keep this as simple as I can.

    If you were your thoughts and emotions , you would not be able to stand back and notice them objectively. The space behind your thoughts and emotions is the place you need to focus your attention , all the answers will come from this place.

    Many blessings upon your journey X



    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by BDC.

    Dear Danny:

    I don’t know what the author of the book meant by those two sentences: (1) “As you think so you shall be”, and (2) “You are not your thoughts”, but to me, these two sentences are not contradictory if combined this way: you don’t have to believe every thought that crosses your mind. You can evaluate your thoughts, accept some and reject others. You are the thoughts that you accept. You are not the thoughts that you reject.



    Dear Danny,

    welcome! You’ve already received great responses by BDC and Anita. In response to “You’re not your thoughts”, I’d like to say: you’re also your breath, for example. If you focus on your breathing, and feel your belly rise and fall with your breath, you’re shifting your focus from your thoughts (it’s called the monkey mind that keeps you stuck in worry, fear, is obsessing, cannot let go, cannot relax…) to something beyond those thoughts, as BDC said. By focusing on your breath, you’re focusing on the here and now, and can perhaps hear another voice – the still small voice of your intuition. Your inner voice.

    At the same time, “as you think so shall you be” is also true, because as Anita said, if you believe your thoughts (e.g. that you’re not good enough and a loser), your life will reflect those false beliefs. If you believe you’re good enough and capable and you believe in yourself, it’s much more likely that your life will be fulfilling and satisfying. That’s why the second postulate is also true.



    Dear Danny:

    Because you started a new thread almost 11 months following this one (your first), I am back to it and got interested in reading an online summary of the book you mentioned, Stop Thinking, Start Living by the late Richard Carlson, a book you were very impressed with at the time, and maybe still.

    Here are a few quotes from the book: “Once you understand that you are the thinker of your own thoughts, and that your mind doesn’t produce ‘reality’, it produces ‘thoughts’, you won’t be as affected by what you think”, “Your thoughts can’t hurt or depress you once you understand that they are just thoughts”, “Your thoughts always create your emotions. Understanding the significance of this fact is the first step in escaping from unhappiness and depression”,

    “When you make a commitment to happiness, you are in effect saying: ‘There is so much in life that I can’t control – the world, other people and their choices and reactions, accidents, imperfections, suffering, hardships. Yet this is my life, and regardless of what happens, I’m going to be happy'”.

    And now, my summary / interpretation of the parts of the book/ the blog. 12 min. com summary of the book, with which I agree: our thoughts and our feelings are not indicators of the real, objective reality, aka the world as it is; they are just an interpretation of it. It happens that we feel scared, sad or angry in certain external circumstances/ objective reality, and then, while the same external circumstances remain, we suddenly feel better, even a whole better. It happens because we don’t feel reality, we feel our thoughts interpreting reality. In the same objective reality, if our thoughts change, our feelings will change as well.

    Our thoughts, in time, create thought systems which are like maps of reality, different people, different maps of reality. No one’s map of reality perfectly fits objective reality. Be open-minded and constantly improve your personal map of reality, for a better and better fit with the objective reality.

    A person who is emotionally healthy has ups and downs but knows both are temporary (instead of thinking/ feelings that either one is forever), sees the truth and moves on (instead of dwelling/ obsessing on an issue), experiences life (instead of analyzing life), lets go (instead of hanging on),

    … focuses on the present moment (instead of focusing on the past or future), learns from mistakes and goes on (instead of dwelling on mistakes and repeating them),  focuses on what one can do (instead of focusing on what one cannot do),

    … mind is clear and free (instead of being obstructed by worries), sees the innocence and the beautiful (instead of seeing only evil and ugliness), being content with what is (instead of obsessing about what could be better), is open and accepting (instead of being closed and prejudiced), has a positive attitude (instead of a negative attitude).

    The trick about remaining emotionally healthy is to not think too much while in a low mood, and to live in the present moment. A quote from the book in regard to over-thinking/ over-analysis=> analysis-paralysis: “The major problem…  is that as you think excessively about a problem, your problem-orientated thoughts will begin to lower your spirits. And, as we have seen, if there is one certainty in life it is this: when your spirits are low, your wisdom and common sense fly out of the window. You simply aren’t at your best, and you don’t see life clearly when you are feeling low… if you can’t solve a problem in a positive state of mind, you will never be able to solve that problem in a lower state of mind”.

    About optimism: Optimism is not something you’re born with – it’s something you can become. You are just one thought away from a good feeling.

    Next, I will reply to your second, current thread.




    Hi Danny

    “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

    I have found that such truths as you are beginning to embrace almost always appear as paradox, a need to hold two seemingly conflicting notions as true at the same time. I believe a reason for this is due to the nature of conciseness and growth

    Einstein noted that:  “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” thus I believe that when we are asked to grow we will be confronted with  seeming paradox. When contemplated paradox calls us to empty ourselves, detach from what we already think we know and feel, from who we think we are, to opening the door for a higher level of consciousness to answer the question.

    “As you think so you shall be” but then later on in the same book he says “You are not your thoughts”

    In racing, they say that your car goes where your eyes go. The driver who cannot tear his eyes away from the wall as he spins out of control will meet that wall; the driver who looks down the track as he feels his tires break free will regain control of his vehicle.” – Racing in the Rain

    You are not your car, you are not your eyes you are not the wall you fear hitting, you are not the road… Yet there is a car, a road, a wall and the car will go where your eyes go.  The driver that looks down the road does not ignore the wall. The driver is fully aware of the car and the wall, notes it, then trust the skills (their knowing) to avoid it. The first skill they learn to avoid the wall is to look down the track to the direction the driver and car wants to go…

    Another challenge for you. in the above metaphor you are not the driver either. 🙂

    It is said “We see the world as we are not as it is”. The level of consciousness that realizes this problem needs a higher level of consciousness to address the problem of ‘as we are‘. Self emptying we notice we have thoughts, we are not our thoughts, we have emotions we are not our emotions, we have jobs we, we are not our jobs, we have experiences, we our not our experiences, we have stories, we are not our stories… This state of being allows our thoughts, emotions, experiences to flow instead of clinging to them, blocking them, identifying the Self with them and hitting the wall we wish to avoid.

    So you are not your thoughts – as you think so shell you be – isn’t a paradox at all.  (notice how changing the order of the two thoughts changes things?) If you know at a deep level of knowing you are not your thoughts so shell you BE. (who might that be detached from thought?)

    So another paradox for you 🙂 –   we work for that which no work is required.


    This body is made from aggregates. Stuff put together to make a living thing. The mind is of this body. So what all a person thinks, .. is what a person is . Buddha said something about a person is the sum total of their thoughts. When the body dies, so shall the mind of this body dies too. But, you are not just these thoughts. In Buddhism, it is sometimes called Buddha nature.

    A person’s thoughts create and shape the mind of the person having the thoughts. But, the real truth of the person is not his thoughts. In meditation, we let go of thoughts and let the mind calm. In an instant, clarity can be seen and we see the truth of our nature. Some call that awakening. Zen calls it Kensho. It does not happen easily and yet, it is not hard. A glimpse to the truth of our nature.

    One’s sense of self is developed and involves thoughts. This constant monologue in the mind. But, that is not our true self. Letting the waters settle, the mud clears and one can see clear thru the waters. So, it is said of the mind. To let go of thoughts, the mind settles and clarity opens and one can see the truth. Sorry, rambling again.


    (As you think you shall be)….is saying, If you think negative thoughts, you will feel and act negative, but if you think positive thoughts, you will feel and act more positive.

    (You are not your thoughts ) means……….just because we think negative thoughts about ourselves, does not mean we are that person…they are just thoughts, and thoughts can be changed within a second, if we remain aware, so we But if we continue to think negative thoughts, then we destroy ourselves and everyone around us.

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