Often we live as if our thoughts are our reality. We act like they are the same thing. In today’s blog post, I want to talk about how identifying too strongly with our thoughts can mess up our lives.
Sometimes our thoughts can help us. If we are an athlete, for example, we might think about an upcoming event, visualizing everything we plan to do in our mind. This can actually help our performance.
But often our thoughts can hurt us. We might think we are a crappy person, and that no one cares about us. These thoughts could make us feel down and depressed, or stay in bed all day. Or we might think about all the things that could go wrong during the day. These thoughts could make us feel anxious, or avoid doing something we are afraid of.
At their most basic level, thoughts are electrical impulses that fire off in our brain. They may reflect the reality around us, but they may not. They may reflect who we are deep down, but they may not.
Recognizing that my thoughts don’t necessarily reflect who I am has helped me quite a lot. When I experience a negative thought, I’m able to step back and evaluate it. I can weigh the evidence for and against the truth of this thought. If the thought isn’t true, I can try to let it go. Even if I determine the negative thought to be accurate, by separating myself from the thought, I’m able to step back and evaluate whether the thought is helping me or hurting me. If the thought isn’t helping me, I can try to let it go.
Discussion: Do you identify too closely with your thoughts? What do you think about the idea of seeing your thoughts as electrical impulses in your brain that may or may not be true?