“All the things that truly matter—beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace—arise from beyond the mind.”
“If only my mind would give me a break.” “How do I get these thoughts to stop?”
These are some of the frustrations I hear every day from people trying to find peace from their thoughts.
What they really want is for their thoughts to stop and just leave them alone. Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret—you can’t make your thoughts stop.
And the more you try to do that, the more you’re actually focusing on the process of thinking.
Remember: what you resist persists. Wanting your thoughts to stop or disappear is resisting them. You’re not accepting the fact that they’re present—and you’re not relaxing with what is.
Trying to get rid of thoughts actually energizes them—you’ll never find the peace you’re looking for.
But don’t lose hope…because freedom from the power of intrusive thoughts is possible. I know because I’ve been there.. I used to be tied up in knots with worry and anxiety. Stuck on endlessly thinking about this and that. Wondering why things weren’t different and better. Doubting everyone and everything.
And now I just don’t pay attention when these thoughts appear, and I’m so much more at ease. I welcome life wholeheartedly instead of seeing it as one gigantic threat that robs me of happiness.
The key to this shift has been how I relate to my mind.
Consider forming a friendly relationship with your thoughts. (“Hello, thoughts.”) If they’re not going away, you might as well be okay with the fact that they’re here.
The goal is to loosen your identification with thoughts, not get rid of them. Because once you’re less identified with your mind, you’re more available to listen, engage, be curious, and fully live your lovely life.
Let’s start with four insights about thoughts.
#1: You are not your thoughts.
You existed long before you started thinking. There’s an innocent, original part of you that is naturally alive and aware, and this you has nothing to do with your thoughts. If you don’t know this, experiment. Pretend that you’re not your thoughts, and see if you’re still here. Get to know this “you” who is alive prior to your thoughts.
This insight means that your thoughts don’t define you. Your thoughts may tell you that you’re unworthy and limited, and they may tell you that you’ll be lost if you don’t worry incessantly. But without buying into these beliefs, you’re still here—and you’re way more at peace.
#2: You can choose how you relate to your thoughts.
Since your thoughts are not who you are, you can choose how much attention you give them. You can live in the stories they tell you, or you can see them as mental chatter that has no meaning.
#3: You don’t have to buy into the content of your thoughts.
Really take a look at the content of your thoughts. If thinking is a problem for you, you will find that your thoughts are quite negative. They tell you to constantly be on guard so you can’t enjoy life. They fill you with doubt and concern. They judge everyone and everything.
They make you believe you’re a fraction of your true magnificence.
Bringing in insight #2, you can choose how you relate to these thoughts. Do you want to magnify this content and make it the veil through which you see life? Or do you want to drop the veil and see things as they truly are?
#4: You can function very well in life without paying attention to thinking.
Most thinking is negative and useless. It’s just not needed. Sure you need thoughts to follow directions or plan a trip. But it is not your birthright to be stuck in ruminating thoughts that spin around and make you feel anxious.
When you don’t pay attention to thinking, you’re open to life as it is. You relate to others with your heart open instead of with fear, lack, or judgment. And you take things as they come without resisting them. Sound good?
I invite you to integrate these insights as much as possible into your daily life. Take a minute to reflect: how are you going to do that? Then in a few days, we’ll talk about some specific tools that will help you.