You Are Not Your Thoughts

Do you get caught up in your thoughts?

Perhaps you get so carried away in mental imagery that you lose all sense of time and place…

It’s a common phenomenon. We live so much of our life behind our eyeballs and within our senses, that we might as well be in solitary confinement.

With only our freaky little minds for company, it’s a fair analogy.

Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves when trapped in our thoughts are positive, but often we’re drawn to the negative, replaying snippets of embarrassing conversations, or fixing past events to suit a more preferable narrative.

We’re editing our own movie, and it seems not to matter that we’re the only ones who’ll ever see the finished version. But what starts out as an enjoyable exercise can soon turn into a nightmare.

With the power of our imagination, we inevitably fantasise about what would have happened had we made a different choice.

Equally, when we have a choice to make in the present, we fictionalise the future, considering every angle of a decision and its ramifications to predict the best outcome.

But as good as our fiction-producing minds are, they’re not fortune tellers, and can’t possibly legislate for the messiness of life.

You think you’ve left yourself enough time for your flight until your train’s cancelled. You try to buy the best birthday present for your girlfriend until you realise you’ve no idea how women’s clothes, or fashion in general, works.

Don’t get me wrong; in many ways, our thoughts are incredibly useful. They let us cut, paste and edit potential real-world events, so as to learn from the past and influence future outcomes.

However, the stories we tell ourselves are so mesmerising that we often forget they’re stories at all.

The truth is, for the uninitiated, our fantasies can often be more comforting than the hard realities of life.

Just as it’s infinitely preferable to sit down after a gruelling day of work and watch another episode of GOT instead of doing your taxes, so too it’s hard to pull yourself away from your thoughts.

But to really squeeze the most out of life, it’s imperative.

Perhaps one of the most useful skills meditation has taught me is that thoughts often try to trick us by masquerading as the truth, drawing us out of the present and into another story.

So take comfort in the fact that you are not your thoughts and they are not your master.