Who is thinking my thoughts?
At the core of all personal growth and recovery from anxious or depressive conditions is the fundamental ability to stop identifying with the incessant ruminations of the mind, and silence all the chatter, all the internal dialogue and all the self talk once and for all! Once you can answer the question “Who is thinking?” You will have a far better chance of silencing your mind and not getting emotionally hooked by all the stories that fly around inside your head.
But it’s not easy, it takes practice, it takes dedication and most of all it requires that you observe your thoughts from a whole new perspective. Nearly every person that visits our anxiety clinic says the same thing “I just can’t quieten my mind!” So, I thought I’d write this short article to give you a new point of view.
Are you the observer or the experiencer of the thoughts?
A few weeks ago I was driving along the motorway and some construction guys had removed the safety barrier around a bridge to do some work, this had exposed 3 concrete columns and as I drove towards the bridge a thought arose in my mind “You could just drive into those columns and it would all be over!” I didn’t do it, I just smiled to myself because I don’t believe all the stories that arise from within me, who is thinking these strange thoughts? I don’t know, but I do know that I am not the author of these thoughts – and because they are not my thoughts and they are not coming out of me – I don’t have to believe them and I don’t have to have any emotional response to them.
Now, I don’t know where those negative thoughts came from and to be honest I don’t really care because it won’t help me to know – the only thing that helps me is to ignore them!
I had another similar situation the other morning when I accidentally deleted an article I had written about depression on this web site and a big thought came out of nowhere saying “you idiot” once again I just smiled, because I’m not an idiot, I had just made a mistake, however, if I had believed those thoughts as being ‘mine’ I would have had an emotional response to them and I would have felt victim to their negative and berating content.
However, many people who experience anxiety disorders believe that the one who is thinking the thoughts they have (even the scary and stupid ones) are their thoughts and that those thoughts are true! Well, obviously this point of view needs to be modified if they are to take back control of their emotions.
Who is thinking my internal dialogue?
You don’t need to be a genius to see this, however, if you still need some persuading, consider this……
If a person is moaning because their constant thinking is driving them to distraction, I often say “How do you know that?” Usually, they reply with “Well, it’s because I experience it.”
Therefore, they are not the thoughts, they are the experiencer of the thoughts, else they wouldn’t be complaining – the thoughts are not complaining! The thoughts are not saying “I wish the thoughts would stop.” It is the experiencer of the thoughts who is saying it!
So it is very possible to step out of feeling that you are the content of the thinking, to a place where you are the observer of those thoughts (they are not my thoughts) – basically, you have a choice, you can remain the observer/experiencer of the thoughts (they are my thoughts and they make me feel bad) or you can move to a new perspective where you are the observer of those thoughts (without experiencing an emotion).
This way, you are no longer a victim, you are not in the car crash, you are an observer of the car crash and this makes a huge difference.
So you move from being in the accident to being a watcher of the accident – you are the witness of the tragedy, you are the witness of the thinkingness, you are the witness of the self blame.
As you explore this in more detail you soon realise that what anxious people complain about is the experience, so then, we move to the feelings, so, we are not our thoughts, we are not the mind, the next step is to move out of the feelings.
Breaking away from the feelings generated by thoughts
We have known for hundreds of years that ones ego feeds on feelings – it feeds on self-pity and feeling wronged, so, as you watch the mind, and you become aware that “I am not the content of the thoughts.” Then as you switch to observing the feelings, you’ll see, that these feelings are feeding off themselves, if you are strictly honest with yourself, you soon realise that you are getting a lot out of being the victim, you are getting a lot out of being the wronged one, you are getting a lot out of being the misunderstood one.
So, if you want to change the whole paradigm, you’ll recognise that the one who is thinking is your ego – and you will need to be willing to surrender the pay off, you have to be willing to surrender the juice you get out of being the victim, the wronged one, the misunderstood one, the neglected one, the abused one – and when you let go of what you are getting out of victim hood and pain and suffering and righteousness and all these pay-offs.
The way to escape from the emotions is to escape the pay off one gets from them.
Therefore, the question you need to ask yourself is “Am I willing to surrender the pay off I’m getting out of this and is my love and devotion to myself greater than my self-victimisation?” As, you begin to see that you are not the victim of anything out there, you’ll see that all victimisation is self-victimisation.
So, a great deal of suffering comes from thinking the thoughts are yours, identifying with the thoughts, feeling bad feelings through experiencing the thoughts and then creating more drama from analysing the thoughts and having your ego feed itself through feeling victimised by life, other peoples actions or even yourself.
It’s not you who is thinking….
We take this whole concept a lot deeper on the Calmness in Mind Program and teach you ways to quieten your mind, detach from the emotions and realise once and for all that a silent mind equals a silent emotional body and further more, it doesn’t matter who is thinking, because, the weird thoughts that arise from within us – are not us!