Thinking............ What's it all about?
Ah, thinking. That powerful brain activity that us humans have advanced through years of development. The thing that allows us to consider all the options, all of the intricacies of each situation we might find ourselves in, at any one time. The thing that allows us to ‘risk assess’, plan and prepare our next move and what we may/may not do.
What a wonderful thing it can be to ‘think’. What a joy to be able to have such advanced brains that hold the capacity to consider things to such an extent that we feel supported and ‘in control’ of things in our lives. The ‘thinking brain’ can serve us well, friends. It can help and support and empower us in many forms throughout our lives. A useful tool, indeed.
Is it all rosy?
But, what about when it’s not? What about when ‘thinking’ completely engulfs us in its tangled web of never-ending streams of ‘thought’, flashing into our brains like powerful currents, cutting through whatever and wherever we are in the present moment?
How this might look
· Flashes or images that prompt you to ‘think’ about something.
· Consistent ‘replaying’ of old conversations; things said/done/felt.
· Incessant ‘mind chatter’, strange and unprovoked thoughts.
· Frightening concepts, that might lead you to ‘check’ what is going on. Why am I thinking that? What is wrong with me? There must be something wrong.
· Persistent ‘monitoring’ of thoughts, trying to ascertain what they are ‘really about’.
· Further investigation or examination that may or may not lead to self-diagnosis: I’ve checked on the web and I absolutely (probably) have condition X/Y/Z.
· Persistent longing for changed experiences: Why didn’t I say ‘X’ in that conversation in 2009 and why am I thinking about that now? (Cue additional thoughts about why you are thinking about something that happened years ago).
· A complete inability to focus or concentrate on the here and now.
· A sense of detachment from your own body and sensations (you’re all up in your head).
· An increased attachment to your own body and sensations – closely monitoring everything that happens in your body when a ‘thought’ comes in.
· An ever-present feeling of anxiety or impending sense of doom.
· Frustration: why can’t I stop thinking?
· Fear: Will this ever stop? It won’t, I just know it (all or nothing thinking).
· Confusion: I know I’m doing this, but I don’t know why.
· Lack of connection: I can’t even speak to my friends. I can’t get on at work. I can’t communicate with my family. These ‘thoughts’ are taking over.
· Isolation: I’ll just stay in, so no one sees that I’m ‘not myself’ right now.
· Physical symptoms: Fogginess, dizziness, increased heart rate, shaking, sweating, stomach issues, headaches (oh, the headaches!)
· Increased emotions: This all just feels awful.
· Distinct lack of confidence and self-esteem.
This list could go on and on and include so many different aspects, that would turn this short blog into an essay; a book, even!
What’s going on?
Thoughts are present in the human mind. Lots of them. Thousands of them. For some of us (for any number of reasons, depending on each of our individual circumstances, backgrounds, genetics, experiences), we attach to these thoughts and really examine them, buying into them, believing all that they are, or spending time worrying about what they ‘might be indicating’ about us. We use them to judge ourselves, berate ourselves and as something to ‘attach to’.
For some people, ‘thoughts’ have been a way of trying to ‘work things out’, to cognitively understand something (or try to). Thoughts have been accepted in some cultures and societies. They may even be associated with a certain level of intelligence (remember the famous quote, ‘I think, therefore, I am’?).
‘Thinking’ may be preferable for some of us (without us even realising it). If I stay ‘up here in my head’, then I don’t have to look deeper at what might be occurring. I don’t have to go anywhere near those feelings, those big, scary feelings, that feel dense, unfamiliar and just odd. Yes, I’ll stay here, in my head, listening to these thoughts, trying to work it all out; it doesn’t feel great, but at least it’s familiar.
What if we aren’t our thoughts?
What if we never were?
What if we knew we never had ‘control’ through thinking, anyway?
What if we could work through this deeply ingrained pattern we’ve established for ourselves?
What if we could see ourselves beyond our ‘thought patterns?’
What if we could do that?