05/04/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Recycle Your Bottles, Not Your Thoughts

Recycled thoughts are not healthy for sustainable living.

Have you noticed how often the same thoughts circle through your mind? They come while we're getting dressed for work, driving, during any activity, even in our sleep. They can be incomplete feelings, incomplete thoughts or actions -- regrets of some kind. Thoughts like: "I shouldn't have done that," "I shouldn't have said that." Or things we haven't said; things we wanted to do but haven't, things we fear to attempt .

For example, while I was in the dentist's chair recently, I looked down at my feet and I was again reminded that my favorite black jeans were too short. When I bought them, I had asked that they be shortened only a little, but the woman at the store did not do this and took too much off the bottom. They are the perfect fit, yet every time I wear them I am irritated about this woman and that my jeans don't feel right.

At the dentist, I realized that I had been recycling these thoughts every time I wore these jeans since I bought them four months ago. I decided to do something about it .

There seemed to be at least four things I could do. I could go back to the shop and tell the woman that I think she shortened the jeans too much and that they are ruined. I would accept that it was my mistake for not doing this earlier since she may say there is nothing she can do, and that I should have complained sooner. I could let go of the past and give them away. Or I could accept that fact that they are shorter than I want.

Whatever I chose, I decided that I was done with this recycling of inner complaining about the woman's actions.

This internal dialogue prompted me to think about how the incomplete, recycled thoughts drain our life energy. There are hundreds of these thoughts - from the mundane to the major- that come up in a day, and to keep them from depleting our energy, we must take mental dominion and deal with them right then and there. The task at hand is to catch ourselves when we have repeating thoughts and ask ourselves, "Is there something I need to express or address about this? Or what do I need to do to declare it complete?"

When we catch repeated thoughts, we can give them a voice and an action -- a completion. This frees up our energy. For our own growth, we need to be dedicated to seeing what 's the message in these thoughts; and once we discover the wisdom they might be hiding we can understand ourselves more fully. The little things that happen give us insight into how we're made our personal patterns how we've conditioned ourselves and how we can course-correct and put ourselves in alignment again. They can become a signposts for awareness .

We must ask ourselves why we keep coming back to this thought. Is there a lesson to be learned about something we didn't do or where we didn't listen to ourselves or honor our needs? Is there wisdom to be gained that we have not yet realized?

I ended up giving my jeans to a friend who was shorter than me. I knew that, though I loved them, every time I put them on the thought was going to come up, and I didn't want to expend that energy. I wanted peace more than the jeans.

Ultimately, we choose what takes up our consciousness, so, for me, I had to remove the jeans from my vision, so they ll be removed from my consciousness, for the thought to be complete in me.

We learn from our experiences. We integrate them and evolve. They sharpen us and make us more efficient as they teach us to course-correct. When I have pants altered now, I know exactly what to ask for, and I have them made longer. I always check the length before I leave the store.

And this learning can be applied to the more important experiences in our life.

Tips for Completing Thought Cycles:

1. Catch yourself doing it.
2. Express the unexpressed.
3. Look for the wisdom to be learned.
4. Declare it complete or decide what action you want to take that would complete it for you.
5. Take that action and declare it complete.

Life happens in the moment. If you train yourself to respond in the moment, then you are empowered. This allows you to start to pick up on the nuances in life, the subtext, and begin to really listen to what people are saying, what they are feeling and where they are coming from.

Completing recycled thoughts does two things. It frees up energy and aligns us with ourselves. By removing the web of incomplete thoughts, we can develop a real connection to ourselves. Instead of asking each other, "How are you?" how about be asking, "Are you connected to you?" -- what connects us to ourselves is not the big things, but the little things that go on every day.

By completing these thoughts, we harness our energy. If we allow incomplete thoughts to circle through our heads, we step away from ourselves.

To live a peaceful, productive life, we have to be strong, ruthless protectors of our life's energy. We cannot engage in endless conversations that take us round and round, consuming time, focus and energy. We're designed for bigger, more important conversations.

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