Negative Thoughts, Rumination and Solutions

I want to write a little something about the nature of thoughts, specifically the more negative ones, and how to potentially get yourself out of ‘dark places’ where your thoughts begin to swirl round and round in what seems like an uncontrollable manner.

Firstly, I feel compelled to mention that I struggle quite badly with negative, seemingly all-consuming thoughts. Therefore I feel like I am not the best person to… advise others on how to get out of those states. However, I am a believer in that every person, no matter what their situation at a given time, has at least some kind of wisdom or knowledge just from where they are currently standing.
In addition, as much as I see myself as a pretty subjective person in some ways, I can still look at things from a point of view that is not completely coloured by my own current emotional state, or the kinds of thoughts I am experiencing in general at that time.
You can still talk about how experiencing your own birthday feels – even if it is not currently your birthday (that seems like a good topic for another time actually, as someone who often struggles with experiencing my own birthday!)

On a personal level, I feel like my negative thought states have intensified relatively recently. From about 2015 or 2016 onwards, my thoughts and feelings have become significantly more… chaotic, than I remember them being previously. I am realizing more and more that it is time to do something about it.

One thing I have learned is that most things do not happen overnight. There is such a thing as “mental laziness”, which in my case, is characterized by my stubborn unwillingness to make true, lasting changes in my own inner life. I enjoy meditating and even reading some self-help every once in a while, but in order to make a firm, lasting change – or rather, to sustain it, takes conscious effort on the individual’s part.

People often recommend going for a walk to clear one’s head. While I definitely believe that walking outside can be great in many ways, this activity also happens to be one where my thoughts often start to spiral out of control.
There is a keyword here: start.
What I mean by this is – they do not start before I leave the house (the vast majority of the time). They start because I allow them to start while I am walking.
Is this because while walking, your mind doesn’t have as much to immediately engage with? Because you’re not in your comfortable surroundings? Because you’re in the “outside world”? Who knows. What I do know is – there is a seed in my head that I allow to grow. The key is to stop it as quickly as possible.

Awareness is also key. Allow yourself to immediately recognize when you are about to go into a state that you know all too well – it may be extremely personal to you. I know mine very, very well. So what I have to do is, again, to stop myself falling into it, as quickly as I possibly can manage.
The thoughts may appear again and again and again – but if I don’t “hang on” to any of them, and begin to add weight to them, to blow them out of proportion – I’ll be fine.

There are specific methods to stop yourself from falling into the trap and I have experimented with many. You may imagine taking your thoughts, putting them into a big bin bag, and throwing them into a bin. That has actually helped me feel better, at least for a little while! You may also imagine putting a specific thought, or thoughts, on a leaf, then placing the leaf on a river and letting it float away peacefully… This way you are actively applying the wisdom that thoughts come – the same thought may come many-many times – but they also go. You don’t need to hold on to any of them.
Doesn’t it feel better to just allow them to come and go, without… exaggerating them? You may not be able to help the fact that they come, but you don’t need to interact with them in a way that makes you feel awful.

All this may sound extremely simplistic but like I said, I myself struggle with this and what I have described is basically the level I am at currently.
Take control of your own internal interactions with your thoughts, as much as you can.
And do it at your pace.

This is a topic that I will probably revisit in the future.

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Thoughts on Writing, Honest Self-Expression & Self-Indulgence

typing

 

Sometimes I question why I want to even do this writing out my thoughts malarkey, specifically in a public way. Or perhaps it’s not even quite questioning, more like wondering.

I tend to not be someone who sets and sticks to long-term goals. That may in itself be a topic for another day, however I think it is relevant to the way that I write. Lately I’ve been very curious inside my own head about the ways in which different people approach writing. Some people have developed it in such a way that they are setting and achieving goals related to it – whether that be something as simple as “write something every day” or maybe even something like “reach x amount of followers by x day”.
Me? I don’t do that. Yet.

I am interested in what drives people to do certain things, writing being one of those. Clearly there is huge power in self-expression, and writing (and reading) is, in my estimation, something that the majority of people have “access to” in some shape or form. What varies is the “level” at which different people approach it and what form it actually takes.

There are days when I feel self-indulgent (trying to avoid the word “selfish” here) for wanting to express my thoughts. Sometimes when I express my thoughts by way of writing, it doesn’t necessarily feel like I am doing it straight to an audience (if there is one). It almost tends to feel as if I am essentially “throwing my thoughts into the universe”. This is why it feels self-indulgent (trying to avoid the word “selfish” here again of course). Because the self-conscious question is: Why should I want to do this? Who cares what random thoughts I have brewing in my head again? Why does it matter?

The more I ask myself these questions, the more I start to envision different answers in my mind. For one, I have always enjoyed writing (reading being a close “buddy” of that, naturally). There is something calming about the process of pulling something from within myself and… not even necessarily the act of putting it out there, but just the feeling of getting it out.

For as long as I can remember, I have admired people who express where they are at within themselves through writing, music, speaking, videography, the list goes on… It seems that there is a “special” group of people who take what they have at any given moment and put it out there in a creative way, inspiring other people in the process and becoming more self-actualized themselves.
You could say that there possibly is a self-indulgence somewhere within that, and it takes a certain level of courage to regularly do that (I am nowhere near where some people are with it) – to put yourself out there and maybe occasionally even figuratively ‘bleed’ in front of people’s eyes.

Another reason I might be drawn to this is that I have to admit, I do have a desire to be understood. Being misunderstood (or the feeling of it) is one of the things that most bugs me about my own existence. It seems that one can only get closer to being understood or “seen” by expressing themselves honestly.

Where is the catch? Where do we draw the line between so-called “oversharing” and honest self-expression? What is it that we want to say at any given moment? How do we approach saying it?
What can we learn through the expression of our own words?
Can we see ourselves differently all of a sudden just by observing our own words?

Can writing in a private journal ever truly be enough?

 

Thoughts on Identity & Sense of Self

I opened this up simply because I got an urge to write, to create, to share… It strikes me how seldom I have a firm idea in mind to flesh out and write about. Interesting how your (my?) “ideal self” or your “ideal way of doing things” often differs quite significantly from what you actually do, how you actually approach things in your life.

Maybe that’s a topic right there.

One thing I often think about, and it came up in a conversation with a friend earlier today, is how people in one’s life form certain views about you – and it may have very little to do with your own self-image. Quite peculiar really, but that’s life.

One thing I have learned over the past few years is just that – what other people see in me and the opinions they hold of me are actually not all the way to do with me. You might even say they have very little to do with me. I am not trying to suggest that someone’s opinions on someone else have nothing to do with how the other person actually is, however it can be argued that one’s opinions and views on things, situations and indeed, other people (and themselves too!) say more about the person holding those opinions than anything else. Seem basic? Well, sometimes we need a reminder. Or at least I know I do. The simplest of insights can be the best of insights for a particular moment sometimes.

Another angle of looking at it might be that people are on different “levels” of identity. What I mean by that is: there are people who possess a very strong, “firm” identity and there are people who are more fluid and maybe struggling with it. Then there are people who fall somewhere right in between.

I feel like the former types of people (“firm” identity) definitely have their own struggles in life, but those struggles are usually not, in my estimation, dealing with the realm of identity or relating to others according to your identity, or lack thereof. These people have a good understanding of who they are and this makes them easier to “grasp” by other people as well.

The latter type of person (“fluid” identity) would be someone who I identify with more. While aware (sometimes overly so, I would say) of their thoughts and feelings in a given situation, something about these people gives a sense to outside observers of not being quite able to “figure them out”. I have come to believe over the past while that this may actually be reflected in the person’s inner world as well. What I mean by that is, the person who is seemingly “hard to read” actually has a hard time figuring themselves out too. The outside state is a reflection of the inner state.

Similarly, I would argue that the people who others have a good grasp and understanding of are people who themselves too have a fairly solid and easy-to-grasp sense of themselves. Their inner experience is not completely removed from the outer experience. Their “aura” matches their sense of self.

So what does the more “fluid” group do? I think, if at all possible, they (we) should just go for it in terms of being as honest and open as possible – and also explore as much as possible. A person grows more by allowing themselves to go and experience new things. This can only result in a more rich, multi-layered and maybe even more firm identity.

I feel like the original idea I had for this post at the beginning, and the actual content of the post, didn’t end up being totally the same but they are related. Stay tuned for more thoughts at some point… Hopefully in less time this time 🙂

Fluidity of Self

This is something I have begun to think about more and more over the past… couple of years maybe. It may have something to do with me identifying in various ways with both Enneagram 4 and 9 (if you don’t know what that means, there’s a ton of information out there) but I find that I swing between being very self-aware and then not having a strong sense of “who” I am. It makes me think that perhaps the former is simply me being aware of my feelings about something, but feelings don’t make the self, you see.

I think it’s partly to do with the fact that life is essentially busy and crazy, and it’s easy to fall into “traps” of getting lost within that. I wonder that if I was the only person on the planet and there wasn’t really much of anything to do, would I have a stronger sense of self? Would I be less influenced by external circumstances? Or would I simply wither away due to zero interaction with others and maybe lack of interests in the real world…?

It is probably nothing to worry about or wreck one’s head over but I have always struggled with knowing if what others see in me matches how I see myself. The thing is, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t – at least not all the way. But the reason I think it’s nothing to worry about (even though I still do :P) is that it’s probably like this with almost everybody. Yes, there are those who are more transparent and easy to read, but even with my strong intuition, I certainly don’t expect to know everything about other people, even when they are expressing themselves full-on.

People are endlessly surprising and fascinating creatures. I’ve studied psychology and I remember being introduced to the psychological concepts of the ego, the superego and the id. Maybe it’s about sort of “holistically” (I don’t like that word, ugh… but it does seem useful here) merging the three into some sort of “super-state” 😀

In general I find that if you spend too much time in one of these states, you become overly absorbed in it and it leaves little room for anything else. So if you’re overly focused on the external reality,  you may forget about inner human values or your own feelings. If you’re overly focused on morality or the potential repercussions of a situation, you may miss out on fun and successful risk-taking.

I tend to be “guilty” of the latter. You could say I’m “guilty of feeling guilty”. I do feel as though I have moved away from what I was originally writing about, but I think it’s fair enough. Writing is an acceptable excuse to go off on tangents.

I have so much admiration and respect for people who… have a good sense of who they are, embrace that fully and go out into the world expressing exactly that. I feel like it creates a nice ~flow~ between a person’s insides and outsides, something that I struggle with. I wish I had a better flow.

I am a believer in it being okay to be exactly how you are and allowing yourself to be that (hopefully as long as you’re not harming yourself or anybody else in the process), but I also feel like this doesn’t always come across in my behaviour.

Someone told me a few months ago that I should allow myself to be more liberal. I still think about this sometimes because as someone who considers himself a fairly liberal thinker and person, with a fairly liberal set of beliefs and views (if perhaps a little underdeveloped…), it came as a mild shock to the system to hear that. It makes me think that, well, maybe I haven’t allowed myself to outwardly be the way I believe myself to be on the inside. Shouldn’t human life go from the inside out?

This also brings me into thinking that maybe I’m not all that I sense myself to be. Maybe I’m not as liberal as I thought I was, or as I’d like to be, when it comes to my actions and behaviour in the outside world. It is one thing to think of yourself as a certain kind of person, but another to actually consistently act this out. Would I like to outwardly act exactly how I feel I am inside? I would! But does it always materialize? I’m not sure. There’s a lot of space for self-discovery in this.

I had the thought just now that most people finish school or college, then feel free and like the world is their oyster. Like they are now ready to take on the world in ways they did not before. This thought then developed into the follow-up thought that maybe it merely seems that way, followed by another thought that maybe none of this is true at all.

So what led me to thinking about this? I was recently laid off work which was said to likely be a temporary thing, unless I find a new job, in which case I won’t be returning to my place of employment at all. The job in question was my first proper job ever and I was not exactly enthralled by going to it in the mornings. I feel as though being laid off has opened my eyes to the fact that there are countless possibilities out there and maybe I really should use this time to find something new and… “better”.

I have indeed been looking for new jobs (just went on an extensive search now, in fact) – and even have applied for one some weeks ago with no reply as of yet – but it tends to fill me with a certain emotional dread which is probably linked to an insecurity of mine. Most jobs don’t feel me at all. I don’t feel capable or even willing to put myself out there into certain jobs in the first place. This may have something to do with the fact that there are some jobs with requirements that I just don’t have, but even ones that don’t specifically ask for a certain degree or anything like that, sometimes fill me with weird feelings.

I have been curious about writing something for a living maybe. I believe it was recommended to me by a friend. This friend, funnily enough, has very similar insecurities to me. I used to relate to his words when he used to tell me about being filled with strange anxieties and other feelings when browsing through job listings. For what it’s worth, he is making an effort with things, practicing a craft of choice and preparing to apply for a new college course.

Thing is, I enjoy writing (although seemingly I don’t do it enough!) and I think it is something I have always been good at. Other thing is, I love the idea of somehow expressing something within myself for a living.

So… Do people feel free as a bird after graduating and their professional life falls into place quite soon after that? It was a naive thought I had. It can take time. It can be hard, it can be anxiety-inducing, it can really be tough. As much as I would love for things to always go smoothly, life just doesn’t go that way. Maybe the path to self-growth and personal development lies in conquering your anxieties and feelings and doing things despite them not going smoothly? I think that might be something to think about.

thoughtsss

I think a lot. I’m very aware of how I go through different stages of thinking about different things. It’s like a circle, or a pendulum maybe… I’d like to think everyone is like this. Maybe from March 2013 through November of the same year, you had a tendency to be very nostalgic… You would think about your grandmother or the old vase you used to display on your window sill. Then later on you had a period of thinking about relationships or about your health.

I don’t pay conscious attention to this very actively, and certainly think I’m even more aware of these things when it comes to feelings rather than thoughts (emotional chronology etc), but I can see how it would also apply to thoughts. They are connected after all.

I don’t like how much I think. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and instead of enjoying my warm bed for a few more minutes, my head is already ringing alarm bells. It’s like it’s doing the work of my alarm clock. And just as an alarm clock should be, it is irritating.

A few years ago I did have a period of not thinking as much, and I would say I was in a better place in certain ways back then. But things change, and you gotta plow through. And maybe not take your thoughts so seriously.

M.