UNSUBSCRIBING FROM YOUR THOUGHTS
The human mind is a double-edged sword. On the upside, it enables us to plan, solve problems, create goals and work towards our dreams… But the dark side of the human mind is that it also tends to haunt our inner world with unhelpful and painful thoughts.
We experience self-criticism, rumination and worry. For many of us, that inner voice can become our own worst enemy, crushing our self-esteem or driving us to feel constantly stressed, negative or anxious.
WHY WE GET CAUGHT UP IN OUR THOUGHTS
Now we know that with emails or on social media, when we find some of the content coming through unhelpful we can hit the unfollow or unsubscribe button. However, the original meaning of the word ‘subscribe’ means to ‘express or feel agreement with something’, so to unsubscribe from something means to not express or feel in agreement with something.
The reason why we often get caught up in unhelpful thoughts is because we subscribe to them. In other words, we agree with them in the sense that we buy into them and take them seriously. We take them to be the ‘truth’ and often believe them without question. And when we do that we become pulled around by, and reactive to, our thoughts.
LEARNING TO LET GO OF REACTIVITY
A simple example is if your mind says “You look horrible today.” If you believe that thought, you will likely react with feelings of negativity, shame and sadness. In the same way, if your mind says, “Urrgh what a dreadful day it is today,” and you believe that thought, you’re likely to experience a low mood that may carry through your whole day.
But if you watch the mind, perhaps through meditation or self-observation, you’ll quickly notice that our minds are always generating thoughts. Some are helpful, some are neutral, some are unhelpful and a lot of them are just random ramblings, but all of them are just mental events. They’re simply bits of language that pass through our minds.
Although we cannot always choose what kinds of thoughts our...