In his 2003 book Stillness Speaks, Eckhart Tolle offers the startling advice: “Here is a new spiritual practice for you: don’t take your thoughts too seriously.”
His point is that we get trapped in our concepts of what is going on, when really those concepts form only one of many perspectives of reality. Further, your thinking constitutes only a small portion of your overall consciousness, so it’s best not to assign too much weight to your thoughts.
Other authors too numerous to list urge us to take control of our thoughts because “we are what we think about.” This theme suggests that we must take our thoughts very seriously because they determine who we will be.
These are really not two diametrically opposed positions, though at first they appear to be. Instead, they work together quite well if we can approach them deliberately.
The first step is to compose in your thoughts the kind of person you want to be, then use your thoughts to intentionally cement that persona into your subconscious. Thoughts can also be used successfully to sort out decisions and plan actions. But left to itself, when those thinking activities are completed, the mind goes off in all sorts of tangents, forming judgments, criticizing what we ourselves or other people are doing, remembering and reliving nasty experiences best forgotten, etc. Clearly, these “left-to-itself” thoughts of the mind are the ones we must not take seriously, but, in fact, should replace as quickly as possible with the deliberate thoughts composing the persons we want to become.