Today I had a very interesting conversation in preparation for one of the mindfulness trainings I give for the company I am working for. The topic was about becoming aware that we are not our thoughts.
Maybe you know this. You have an important presentation and you need to speak to an audience. Maybe that thought alone is scaring you. Then, what happens in our brains? We start with “I don’t know if I can do this”. This might lead to “They will probably laugh or don’t like it anyway”. We might go on to “Why am I even doing this? I cannot do this” to “I am not good enough to do this” to “I don’t want to do this’ and might end with “I am not good at my job and why am I even trying, and my life is a mess”.
Maybe you are familiar with this downward spiral of negativity. At the end we might be close to tears or already demotivated. The “funny” thing is, nothing has happened yet. This was only in our brain. We already give up before we even tried it. I wonder how often this happens in our lives?
What would it look like if we become aware of the fact that we are not our thoughts?
We might still have the same thoughts coming, BUT we would be better able to discern what is at the core of those thoughts. We would see that we might be anxious because the presentation is so important to us. We really want to succeed and if we really want something we are afraid what would happen if we don’t get it. Actually, you being anxious shows how much it means to you and it is in essence something positive.
I just think about how much this might have affected me in the past. All those ideas I had and didn’t follow through because I thought I am not ready or not good enough or I was finding reasons why it is not working. Maybe I gave up too early. Maybe I misinterpreted those thoughts. Maybe I was going for something meaningful but stopped because of that negative thought process. I mean many people are looking for meaning in their lives. I am one of them. Maybe there is more meaning around us than we thought. Maybe that feeling of self-doubt or anxiety might be an indicator that this is something we can find meaning in.
A good start is to become aware that we are not our thoughts.