Over the years, the number one superpower I have acquired is the realization that virtually all of my psychological suffering and most of my physical suffering are created when I am lost in thought.
Being lost in thought is when I think without knowing that I am thinking and with little to no reflection process. Being mindful of my thoughts has taught me how to break the spell of being lost in thought.
It is a superpower to harness the skill of noticing a thought as just a thought without judging or being dragged along with it. Before this realization, I was helplessly thinking and reacting every minute, every day, all year round.
I used to have conversations with myself. Images and words would flow in and out into my head like a preinstalled program running in the background.
A constant stream of thought interrupted my life, and I didn’t even notice it.
If I had an angry thought, I would get angry. If I had a depressing thought, I would get depressed. If I had a sad thought, I would get sad. If someone were sad, I would get sad. I became my thoughts without knowing.
My life mainly consisted of white noise and completely colored my experience from moment to moment.
Acknowledging and creating awareness
One day I got so fed up with suffering that I started to identify the source of my suffering, and guess what I found? I found that the ego or the analytic mind is a beautiful servant, but it’s a lousy master.
I could see a self entirely structured by this flow of mindless thoughts, which produced everything I did with closer examination. Irrational thoughts were producing all my intentions and goals or, in my case, the lack of goals.
One day when observing my mind, I heard the following;
They said this about me, and now I’m going to say that about them.
At that moment, I became was not the one thinking my thoughts. I was reacting to all of my thinking like a slave. Take a basic example of the difference between pain and suffering.
I can feel extreme, physical, and unpleasant pain, but what creates the feeling that something is unbearable is the fear of having to experience it in the next moment in the future.
Every moment I feel it, I give birth to it, and I carry it. It all becomes about the last moment and anticipating the next moment.
Without acknowledging and creating awareness, I will keep worrying about the future, and I don’t notice the automatic thought activity that reinforces the negative experience at that moment
I can have super intense feelings, either pleasant or unpleasant depending on the conceptual framework. that I put around it.
For example, if I had this tremendous feeling of tenderness in my shoulder or arms, I could experience it in very different ways. If tenderness were a result of having lifted more than I ever had in my life, and I would be proud of it.
Or, instead, I could think;
I probably have cancer, and I go to the doctor, sitting there waiting for the biopsy results. I am now worried and have started to create pain.
I now tell myself:
This is the thing that’s going to kill me.
Another example to illustrate the relationship between thoughts and pain is when I get a deep tissue massage, and it hurts like hell, but this time I fully understand the source of the pain.
I know, it’s going to go away the moment the masseuse pulls back her elbow, right?
The conceptual framework I have around things ultimately dictates psychological suffering and the total absence of psychological suffering.
If I want to stop suffering, I must start by realizing and accepting that virtually all of my psychological suffering and most of my physical suffering is my being lost in thought.
Without acknowledging and creating awareness I can not move from suffering to acceptence.
It is not people and circumstances that make life unbearable. It is the stories I tell myself.
The ego or the analytic mind is a beautiful servant, but it’s a lousy master.
So I decided to be the master and use my thoughts and human relationships as a vehicle for becoming free rather than a vehicle to be trapped in.
I wish the same for you.