I’m going to attempt to do something different. It’s 7:03am on a crisp spring morning and I’m sitting in the back seat of bus 196, heading to the office in NYC.
I had an idea that I should just start writing. Typically, when I blog, I have some sort of direction that I want to head towards. It may not be fully fleshed out when I start writing but at least I know the destination. As I write this, I have no such destination. I’m interested to see what will come out.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. About where I am in my life and the exciting new directions it has taken in the past year. Some may say that I’m in my head too much but that reminds of of a quote I read recently by Kahlil Gilbran “you talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.”
I’m at peace with my thoughts.
I used to fight them as they would take me in directions that I didn’t want to go. It’s not that they were bad directions, it’s just that I was trying to focus on something else when my brain would say, “yeah, no. I don’t want to do this anymore, let’s focus over here.”
Then, it would become a battle between my conscious mind and my subconscious mind. I’d try and brute force my focus back onto what I was currently working on. It didn’t always work out that way, but I would try.
Then, I stopped. I learned that not every thought that I had needed my entire focus. It didn’t have to pull me away from what I was currently working on. I learned to acknowledge my thoughts by just letting them be. I stopped being so worried about having to latch onto them, turning each one around in my hands, and having to examine them from every angle.
I learned just to let my thoughts be born, I didn’t have to raise each and every single one of them.
As I reread that I understand that sounds a little weird, but hey I’m just going with the flow here! Thoughts can be very ephemeral, they don’t last long and they sometimes float just out of reach so that you have to give them more attention if you want them to stick around.
I just stopped doing that. I acknowledge the thought and if it’s something that I want to unpack a bit more later on, I write it down. I’ve found that by doing that, I can focus on the task at hand. It’s almost as if my thoughts just want to be acknowledged, and if I acknowledge them they are happy enough to wait their turn for deeper contemplation later on. Just like with most things, they just want to be heard.
Now, I know what you must be thinking. “Is he saying that thoughts are living breathing things with a mind of their own?”
Come on now, I’m not crazy. Of course I’m saying that! Sort of.
How many times have you laid awake at night with a thought in your mind as it kept begging you to come out and play? Too many times to count, I would presume!
So instead of doing that, just acknowledge the thought and write it down for later thinking on. It’s when you fight your thoughts that they scream at you to be heard.
Build in time each day for you just to sit with your thoughts. Meditate on them, give them their due. If not, they will keep hounding you until they are acknowledged. I’m not telling you that every thought needs to be examined in more depth, only the ones that you feel warrant the effort.
I kept having the same reoccurring thought over the past few years and that was that I didn’t deserve the success that I’ve achieved in life, that I was an imposter. I grew up poor and didn’t continue my formal education after high-school.
I tried pushing that out of my head because come on, I know how awesome I am! 🙂
However, my subconcious mind kept telling me that I could lose my job at any moment because I wasn’t smart enough, that I was just a poor kid without an education and how could I compete in a field full of people with Ivy league degrees?
The more I pushed that thought away, the more I ignored it, the more hold it had over me. So, I decided to give in. I wrote the thought at the top of a piece of paper and starting writing. At first I wrote down why I’m an imposter but then a beautiful thing happened and what I started writing was the exact opposite. I starting seeing what I bring to the table as having value. That even though I don’t have a formal education, I read at least 40 books a year. That was my education.
I haven’t had those negative thoughts in about 9 months. As a result I am happier, more confident and I feel that my work is better than ever.
Thoughts. Give them their due. By acknowledging that they are there is enough for most of them, but those that don’t go away, or are important enough to you, should be thought about. But, do it in your own time.
Wow. It’s now 7:25, that has to be the fastest I’ve ever written a post before. Isn’t it interesting where your thoughts will take you when you write them down?
If you found this new format useful, please feel free to leave a comment below. Or, better yet, just try it yourself, I’d LOVE to read it.
“I learned just to let my thoughts be born, I didn’t have to raise each and every single one of them.”
Isn’t it strange that every thought – no matter how brief, small, petty, negative, or valueless – comes barreling onto the stage of mind pleading that it is of utmost importance, and so pressing that a person should immediately drop even the most practical activity in order to hand over one’s attention to that current thought?
Doesn’t matter if that thought is #247 in an ongoing train of mental chatter that cranks into gear the moment we wake up in the morning, it still brings with it a chemical-driven, compelling urge to break contact with what matters and prostrate ourselves before the newly-risen mental impression.
As part of my daily mental habit of staying mindful in the present moment, I’ve learned over time that setting aside a thought for later investigation when that thought is really just a distraction is of great practical value.
I discovered that most of those sudden brilliant ideas are just as juicy and useful after my current day’s work is complete – and what a relief to realize that nothing bad will happen if one acknowledges, makes a quick note to revisit later, and carries on with the work at hand.
Great blog post.
Well said. Thoughts are like that perverbial train everybody is always going on about, they come in loud and beg for your attention. They have no care for what you’re already doing or if you’re trying to sleep.
But, they tend to become more docile when you acknowledge their presence and let them know that you’ll get back with them soon.
It’s when they are ignored that they roar to life and yell at you until you give them them they attention they deserve.
Wow, thoughts are a lot like children.