I am not my thoughts

If you want to read about the election that is less than two weeks away, close your browser right now. Indeed, I was asked this week why my blog matters right now (i.e. between now and November 3rd) unless I write about my political views, my feelings about the current pandemic, or the importance of wearing a facial covering (just do it). Indeed, my brain, like the news and my social media feed, is full of all of that. But I don’t want to write about that. Indeed, I would love a break from thinking about that. 

And on Monday, I was reminded of very good news: I am not my thoughts. (Despite René Descartes’ famous declaration cogito ergo sum, “I think therefore I am”…).

I listened to a webinar featuring Seth Mattison (whom I have had the privilege of hearing speak in person), who spoke to a group of Aveda salons about showing up whole during challenging times.  

“The battleground starts in our mind,” and “the path to peace starts with mindfulness,” he reminded his captivated audience.   

90% of our thoughts are habitual.  

80% of thoughts are negative.  

Yet I exist beyond those thoughts. I am the CEO of my own mind. I cannot control my thoughts, but I can control which thoughts I give energy to. 

I cannot control my thoughts, but I can decide what are I am going to focus on and what I am going to give energy to. And these two decisions should be based on the following simple yet not easy questions: 

  • Is this thought useful? 
  • Is this thought about something I can control? 

I was so intrigued by this idea that I fell in a black Google hole of “I am not my thoughts” and thus came upon the work of Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and best-selling author of The Power of Now and A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (yes, I am adding them to my reading list)

Tolle believes that “rather than being our thoughts and emotions,” we are (or at least our best selves should be) “the awareness behind them.” He also believes that “the primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” He continues: “Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral. It is as it is.”

And so, I say to myself as I wake up, “Thoughts, let’s behave today. Today we are going to think constructively, productively, positively, and with empathy.” Today is going to be a good day… Today is going to be a long day…