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Friday, August 22, 2008

Thoughts on Thoughts

Some people are shocked when I ask them this question: "Do you control your mind, or does your mind control you?"

Sure, one can argue that, truthfully, there are many times when thoughts just "pop" into our conscious minds for who-knows-what reason. Welcome to being human!

And some of these thoughts can be upsetting, disturbing, or otherwise challenging to our personal code of ethics. But there is great news!

The great news is that we have the power to change our thoughts! Easier said than done, particularly when a certain life event has our life turned upside down. Losing a job, a death in the family, a new diagnosis, a fire, discovery that a spouse has been cheating...all these things create huge waves of emotion. Try as we might, negative thoughts in these situations continue to pop into our thoughts, time after time. And nothing seems to help.

"Time heals all," or so the saying goes.

But of course time heals nothing! It's what we do with time that is the healing! My point: let's reduce the amount of time of suffering by focusing on what we need to. This is not to suggest that grieving is not appropriate; indeed, one can't truly appreciate the heights of happiness without having sampled the depths of difficulties and sorrow. So we all need a certain amount of time to process major life events; more often than not, talking things out is very, very helpful. Another very helpful adjunct is to write out our thoughts and feelings.

Talking and writing, on one level, accomplish the same thing. And it is not just the idea about venting. Talking and writing also share the important characteristic of necessarily having the speaker/writer systematically organize his or her thoughts. Such organization leads to greater ability to be logical.

And logical is good. Logical is what gets us from point A to point B.

For the record, Emotional is good too. Even better, in fact. Because what we feel we feel on an emotional level. But emotions tend to make poor arbiters of choice. More on this soon.

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