I find myself mesmerised and hypnotised by thoughts, all the time, often without realising it. It seems many people do, and seek out ways to help themselves. With self help articles, videos, and books about calming the over-thinking brain, how to relax without your thoughts bothering you and ways to distract you from your thoughts. (For example with exercise, meditation, music, hobbies or rituals).
That’s all fine. But in my view, a lot of that is just dealing with the ‘symptoms’. And things like zen buddhism for example, gets to the root of the problem and changes the relationship we have to our thoughts.
I would argue, that thoughts aren’t meaningful or real, they’re mechanical and phantom-like. They’re a tool, and sometimes they’re the wrong tool for the job.
They have no basis in reality. They are an infinite fractal playground of ideas and concepts. We can only create a map about reality in thoughts, and a map is not the same as the territory.
Thoughts just happen, then we give them power over us, by putting our attention on them and our faith in them. And when we do this, it is possible to do the darkest things imaginable. Like kill yourself or kill and torture others. By believing such thoughts as ‘things will never get better’, or ‘ours is the true religion.’
To stop thoughts from bothering us; we don’t need to distract ourselves, we just need to stop putting our attention on them. Stop engaging with them. See them for what they are: just thoughts.
Energy flows where attentions goes.
We don’t have to listen, solve, or get away from them.
Let the thoughts come and go, even if they’re dark or scary thoughts. They can’t hurt us. Disengage, take your hands off the wheel. Drop the attention on them like it’s a hot potato. Don’t grab a hold of the thought, don’t wish it away. These are all forms of engaging with it, as if it’s means something, as if it can hurt us.
Allow the thoughts to be there, accept them, they will drift away like all thoughts ever have.
Just because thoughts appear in our awareness, it doesn’t mean we have to do what they say.
We don’t have to listen to thoughts, or engage with them or believe them.
We can instead just see them happen, not judge them, not try to get away from them, or fight them, and not follow them down the rabbit hole.
Sometimes, it can feel like thoughts are our friend or that they’re in fact ‘us.’ But in my view, thoughts are impartial tools to be used how we like.
To see that thoughts aren’t you, notice how when a thought appears and disappears, you were aware of that happening. You stay, while thoughts come and go.
Maybe you think you are the thinker of the thoughts?
This is how it intuitively feels and it evolved this way for good reason. However, take a moment to notice right now that you have no idea what thought will appear next. Also notice that you have no idea where that thought came from, where it got made, who ‘wrote’ it before you ‘heard’ it.
Maybe you think you can control thoughts?
To see how we can’t control thoughts; stop thinking, (like you would stop running when you didn’t want to run anymore).
We can seem to fight with thoughts, reject them, deny them, judge them, believe them, listen to them, engage with them, or we can not do any of that and allow and accept them instead.
I find it much more helpful to allow thoughts to appear, see them and not engage with them if I don’t want to or if they’re hurting me.
Be the master of the thoughts, not a slave to them. (Easier said than done, eh?)
What do we all do when we read a really good book or see a great film? We lend it to someone or recommend it to someone, who we think would like it or benefit from it. Which is great, passing on good stuff, helping our tribe out.
But what if we expanded our feelings and cared about strangers too? I had the thought of wanting to do this, and I wish there was some sort of community board to add things to, but a lot of people wouldn’t look at that and it would only be in one place. I like the idea of leaving things on buses and benches, for people to pick up if they like the look of it.
So now, after I’ve read a print out, flyer or poster, instead of putting it in recycling, is put them around my environment, so that strangers can benefit from them too.
Some people might consider this littering, but I don’t because the idea is that someone will take it – that is the intention of the post-it saying ‘take me’ on each one.
It’s valuable information that I’ve gotten something from, and I want to share with fellow humans, in the hope they will get something from it to. And I’d like to believe that fate will determine who will pick it up, and maybe it will enter someone’s life when they need it or are ready for it.
So we’re calling them Mind Fuel Pick-up’s, and we will keep doing it. We have much compassion for our fellow humans. We all want to be happy. Hopefully this action goes towards improving people’s minds, lives, and society, even just a little bit. Even just to know that strangers care about them, could maybe improve their day. Imagine if more people did this…
Thanks for reading. Get in touch at:firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to hear from you. If you enjoyed it, help us out and share it so other people can benefit/enjoy it too. Thanks.
It seems to me that the education system is too focused on making a living rather than making a life. There’s always exceptions of course, but generally speaking in at least the standard UK curriculum, schools aren’t incentivised at all to provide education to create well-rounded, happy, healthy, decent human beings. It’s not a priority. What is a priority for them seems to be producing employable consumers.
I don’t think this is the fault of the schools, they are answerable to the government. They HAVE to deliver the required curriculum, or they get backlisted. The government represents us, so it seems within our rights to get the kind of schools we want. The government obviously has it’s own agenda. I don’t understand how they don’t see the following list as super important and include it in the curriculum.
Where will people learn about things such as:
– Self-expression/finding out who you are – Personal finance (for example student loans and lifetime debt!) – Mental health – How mental health and physical health are connected – How to be a good parent – How to raise a dog – How to deal with emotions – Mindfulness and meditation – Diet and nutrition – Critical thinking – Life fulfilment – Stress management – How to run a house – Relationship communication – Race issues, gender issues, sexuality – The importance of play and relaxation – The importance of time in nature – The importance of work/life balance – Spirituality – Community and cooperation – Sustainability
Where can we learn this stuff as children if not schools? You can’t rely on parents to teach all this stuff.
It’s all essential stuff. Without the knowledge of these things, decades can be spent trying to correct everything and cause much pain and suffering. It pisses me off.
Maths, science and english are obviously really important, but they won’t help you if you have depression because you didn’t learn about emotional regulation and the importance of work/life balance! No wonder most people are unhappy and dissatisfied with life. (That’s my personal observation and opinion).
Children will grow up to be a part of society, so why doesn’t society give them all the tools they need to be happy, healthy and well-rounded? It’s mutually beneficial to educate them fully so they’re better citizens and better people.
I think this stuff is worth questioning and thinking about. You know my thoughts. What are yours?
Do you have any thoughts you want to share? Please get in touch at:email@example.com, we’d love to hear from you. If you enjoyed it, help me out and share it so other people can benefit/enjoy it too. Thanks.
Sorry there’s been a lack of fuel from me recently, but now I’ve quit my job I’ll have more time to dedicate to this blog that I love so much!
“If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have 3 options: 1. Remove yourself from the situation, 2. Change it or 3. Accept it totally.” – Michael Singer
I often read/hear that practicing gratitude will put you in good stead for a healthy wellbeing and state of mind.
I’ve tried to do this many times. I think about what I’m grateful for and write it down, and, at the time, I don’t necessarily feel happier for doing so. But, I have felt grateful out of nowhere before; so practicing can only be a good thing. On days that I’m really, really low, when I have no motivation or energy, and where anything but sleeping is too much effort, I find it really hard to practice gratitude.
I realised that maybe it might help me to practice acceptance first: acceptance of my current situation, personality, life, problems, pain and feelings, acceptance of my depression, that I feel like shit right now, that my back is in pain and has been for 5 years, acceptance of the fact I have no motivation or inspiration right now.
I first realised the power of acceptance when shivering in the cold, waiting for the bus. I thought ‘just accept the cold, accept it….it’s okay go on, accept it’, then all of a sudden, I released my fight against the cold and I relaxed and felt a bit warmer for a while. So I’m trying to practice that with more aspects of my life.
I have a constant inner conflict inside that takes a lot of energy, which means I end up unhappy and distracted a lot of the time. In fighting my pain and suffering I’m trying to control one part of myself with another part. I want to feel happy and get rid of these bad feelings, and if fighting it doesn’t work (which it never does) I want to run away and escape myself entirely.
But in rejecting/bullying myself this way, it’s like saying to myself: “Stop feeling down, be happy for god’s sake, what’s wrong with you? There’s no reason you should feel depressed, I wish I wasn’t you and I was someone else, someone happier, I wish I had someone else’s life, not this one.”
If I accept my low feelings, stop fighting them and berating myself, accept that I’m the product of my genes and upbringing, and that I can’t help being depressed, I let go of the grip my mind has on itself and life becomes easier to deal with. I feel more compassion for myself, and feel more liberated and validated.
I think to some people, acceptance seems like giving up, giving in, and the other person or situation has won. But if it’s something you can literally do nothing about, and not accepting it causes you more pain, then maybe accepting it would be a healthier/happier choice for you.
Things to practice fuelling your mind with (easier when you have the mental energy to do it):
– Mindfulness (Be mindful of unhelpful thinking styles – more on that in another post).
– Acceptance (When you feel down or upset instead of feeling bad and fighting the feeling, try accepting that you feel low, allow yourself space and time to feel how you feel, validate yourself, it’s okay to feel shit right now. If that’s too hard, first try to accept the cold and see if you feel warmer even for a few seconds).
– Gratitude (Trying to notice people and things in your life that you’re grateful for regularly, even the smallest of things).
I would love to know if this helps anyone else, try it out and let me know? You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope this had some value to you, and your mind is more full of meaningful, thought-provoking stuff. If you did enjoy it, help me out and share it so other people can benefit/enjoy it too. Thanks.
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So, I haven’t written a blog post in a while, here’s why.
I’ve had the realisation that a lot of my problems are stemming from totally and utter burnout and meltdown, like constantly. There’s many reasons for this like stressful work or too many responsibilities. But also your lifestyle and personality/how you look at the world.
I’ve been unknowingly seeing myself as some sort of robot, able to complete everything that needs doing with no breaks and rest. I have a bit of a serial processor brain, which doesn’t seem to be compatible with how life works, and sometimes I don’t know how to live in this world. It’s bad for my health, relationships, work, life and everything really.
I’m finding it very hard to fit into society’s system. I feel I don’t have enough time to do what I want because of things getting in the way like work, sleep, having to eat, shop, clean, exercise, and do other stuff that needs to be done. I feel like I’m always just existing to complete a never ending load of tasks, chores, lists, responsibilities, duties, obligations and problems to solve. I have an intense need for resolve. I can’t think about anything else until things are done, and out of the way. Only then, can I relax and enjoy myself, but because the list never ends, I never get to that part.
Everything is of equal priority, all urgent and it all needs to have a productive outcome or it’s a “waste of time.” Which is silly because intellectually I know that nothing is a waste of time if you enjoy it. It’s like a never ending addiction, it’s my personality (the analytical thinker). I’m not great at taking care of myself, I kind of see myself as a tool to accomplish goals. I can feel lost on holidays and weekends because there’s nothing to fix or resolve, it’s freedom to do what you want, but I don’t know what to do with that sometimes, if I’m honest, weird I know.
I think I need a better filter, better priorities and to get the rest I need to start with. Everything will become more enjoyable if I do it when I’m in the mood to do it too. I’m guessing this isn’t just me and that the human brain didn’t evolve to process the amount of information we’re fed/bombarded with today and to become achievement machines, the under appreciation of rest in modern society isn’t helping either.
From everything I’ve gathered, read and know, I feel like there’s a big scale where at one end, you have right brain dominated people who can relax, have fun and be in the moment, but if they’re unable to be focused and get things done, they’re at risk from becoming unsuccessful, feeling useless and depressed. Much like my little brother, who’s the opposite to me in this way.
At the other end of the scale you have your left brain dominated people who are productive, focused, determined and successful but if they’re unable to relax and live in the moment, they’re at risk from becoming anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, overworked and burnt out and also depressed.
So my personality informs the way I look at the world and my lifestyle, and my job in the mix means this is what I get. Lovely.
I don’t feel free. Life feels pointless. I feel like I’m just surviving and existing, but not living at all.
Never mind the absolute hell my life is because of this, I also don’t want to be on my death bed thinking “I got a lot of things done”, I want to think ”I had a lovely ride, lot’s of fun, mad experiences, and no regrets.”
My friend said a great thing to me “You do need to enjoy things. Like…you’ll die one day. This is a profoundly unfair FACT. You should squeeze out of life what you want, not what you think you should do.”
Which is great advice, but obviously she doesn’t have my brain, personality, lifestyle and mindset. There doesn’t seem to be any help or support out there that I know of for this, but I’ll do all I can to help myself and others going through the same thing.
Fuel to remember:
– If I feel on the verge of a burnout, stop what I’m doing and rest, cancel plans and remove stress – Ask myself – does that really need to be done right now? – Try to live more in the right brain and the moment and give myself a break – Find balance and you will be more content – I’ll die one day, so squeeze out of life what I can – Do what the fuck I want in life, not what I think I should do – I’m not a machine or robot, I’m a human, and human’s need balance in rest and achievement – Nothing is a waste of time if I enjoy it – Meditate daily, exercise 3 times a week – Find a way to do my passions and have a better work-life balance that I’m happy with
I hope this had some value to you, and your mind is more full of meaningful, thought provoking stuff. If you did enjoy it, help me out and share it so other people can benefit/enjoy it too. Thanks.
Follow my blog by email on the top right hand side or on twitter, and get weekly inspiration, videos, quotes and resources on thinking, questioning, growing and learning about yourself, others, life and the world.