Why did he say that? What did he mean by that? Was he trying to make me feel bad? Ugh, what a jerk, yea well he is just unhappy with himself. You are 40 years old, grow up. Well maybe he didn’t mean it? Ugh, I am such an ass, I shouldn’t have said that, I’m bad bad bad…. Sound familiar? Ever have that conversation with yourself? That conversation may last minutes, hours, days or even years. But why? What is the purpose? Replaying history and makeing up stories in my head, tweaking little things to see what different outcomes could happen. I obsess over something I did that I’m unhappy with, specifically a reaction I am not proud of. Justifying my response, but why and for who? Nothing changed, the past still happened and the future does not exist.
For years and most of my life I only listened to the stories I was creating or replaying, completely oblivious to other people and my surroundings. I often spent periods of time driving in the car, passing exits because I was completely consumed with my thoughts and often forgot I was even driving. I couldn’t walk down the hall without looking down, avoiding eye contact and thinking to myself how fast could I get to my next destination. I avoided people because I couldn’t seem to focus on any conversation without my thoughts interrupting. My thoughts told me that I was stupid, awkward and unsocial. The only thing that changed was time, I was standing still, consumed and living my life in my head.
It wasn’t until one day I was introduced and became suddenly aware of me. I realized that I was constantly lost in my own head. I was either living in the past or the future and unaware of the now. I suddenly felt relief from anxiety and depression for the first time in what had felt like my whole life. I was not sick, mentally handicapped or needed years of therapy. I was solely focused on my own thoughts. Being in the now is the most blissful, happy, secure and connected feeling that no drug or therapist can make you feel. It is a feeling that does not last forever and is worth striving for. Over time and with practice it becomes underwhelming knowing that I can make it happen with no other influence and at any moment.
Those thoughts that are in our minds are not you. They mean nothing and is a waste of time and energy. Being aware of when you are lost in your mind is the path to freedom. No one lives every second without a thought, our minds are constantly trying to distract us. We are raised and conditioned to put a word to everything, we determine if we like or dislike everything and analyze each situation that is presented. It is important to realize that we are not bad for getting lost in the continuous stream of thoughts and that it is only normal. It is also unnecessary to shame ourselves when the quality of our thoughts hit the gutter and we are embarrassed for even thinking of quite possibly some of the most wicked and sick thoughts even imaginable. It is a practice to become more and more aware of our thoughts. If you are feeling unhappy, agitated, annoyed, notice where your thoughts are. Are you living in the past or future? The thoughts will come back, but keep practicing your awareness and it will get easier. You will soon start to condition yourself to ignore the thoughts or even prevent them from arising. No one will ever be perfect, even the greatest leaders have thoughts, but with practice it does become easier to notice and shift your awareness back to the now.
3 Mantras to Get Out of Your Thoughts
I Am Not My Thoughts
I Am Light
I Am Love