Thoughts On Thoughts

It’s time for a revolution. Too long have we, collectively and individually, been tyrannized by our thoughts and what we believe about them.

Or perhaps we can think of this as an intervention. This post is the circle of friends gathered to help us stop hitting ourselves in the face with a hammer.

So here’s a little step-by-step exploration of thoughts. It’s intended for any of us who, from time to time, struggle with intrusive or negative thoughts in any way.

Step 1: humans produce near-infinite rubbish thoughts

All you really have to do is look at any social media platform. People will just tell you all their garbage thoughts. All of them -- and there’s quite a lot.

Or just look around at people. They think all kinds of things, and I’d be very surprised if you didn’t agree with me that most of the things people think and believe are, well, pretty silly.

Conclusion: humans generate a lot of thoughts, and most of them are not worth very much.

Step 2: it takes nothing not to believe in rubbish thoughts

Again, social media is very instructive here. There’s some stuff you agree with, surely, but a whole lot more of what you don’t. And it’s effortless to disbelieve those thoughts, to not be compelled to adjust your entire reality to fit the shape of those thoughts.

Conclusion: not believing thoughts is actually pretty easy.

Step 3: notice that you’re a human, too

We’ve established that humans think a hell of a lot of thoughts, and that most of them aren’t very good/productive/useful.

So here’s the critical step -- a step of humility, really: you are a human, too, and so there’s a pretty good chance that not all your thoughts are winners.

And all you have to do is not automatically believe them! (see: Step 2)

Hard to believe, right?

See, part of the problem is that we seem to act as though a thought that happens in our head makes it special, automatically right in some way. It’s not. All it is is just another thought by just another human. And the more we notice and realize that, the freer we become from false or limiting patterns of automatic belief.

See for yourself: try thinking the thought "I am a panda with a unicorn horn." Almost certainly false, but you can think it. Just look at that -- even your thoughts can be untrue!

When you’re right, you’re right.
David Attenborough, eat your heart out

Ultimately, a thought is just a thought -- it’s not reality. And we might do well to extend a healthy skepticism toward ones that show up within, especially those gnarly ones that tell us stories about ourselves that are negative or harmful. Once we start believing thoughts, we start taking actions based on those beliefs, and that can lead to painful, uncomfortable, or just bad places.

Conclusion: you absolutely do not have to believe every thought you think. Do me a favor and think about that.