Getting rid of Rumination, Worry and Judgment/Self-Criticism is not as easy as you think. Kicking those friends out of your life is hard work. You’ll find them to be fairly pesky fellows who will work hard to sneak in the back door to occupy your house again.
What I have found is that the majority of my thoughts are unconscious. Here I’m distinguishing between two types of unconscious thoughts: one which are those totally outside our awareness, and the other are those to whom we’re just not paying any attention. Maybe they really are the same thing, but to me they are slightly different.
Paying attention to our thoughts can sometimes be crazy making. Maybe that’s why there is so much hype about getting into the moment or practicing meditation. If you’ve ever laid in bed at night and wished you had a shut off switch for your mind, you know what I mean.
It’s a delicate dance to start listening to the messages our brain is giving us. When we start to pay attention to what we are thinking, we really can start feeling like we’re going nuts. After all, thinking is like hearing voices in our heads.
Wha wha what? You hear voices in your head? Lock that girl up! She is cra- cra- crazy.
For me, I really can start feeling nuts when I observe my thoughts, especially when I am thinking in 2nd person. Usually that is my critical voice (sneaking in the back door) telling me something I should or should not do. Most the time I’m not paying enough attention to recognize this switch in my thinking.
It’s not always critical, however. I first observed this a many years ago as I was driving to work. It was nearing my 45th birthday and I was wondering what I wanted to do to celebrate. In the middle of exploring different ideas I heard myself think, “well, what do you want to do, Shannon?”
Whoa. Who are you? Who is speaking to me? Who am I? Where is the nearest looney bin?
More often I hear this line of thinking as a “You really should …” or “I can’t believe you …”. In the beginning I spent some time trying to get rid of that voice in my head, but quickly realized paying too much attention to it really did make me start to feel crazy. So now, I just observe when it comes up and pay attention to where it might be coming from.
I asked a few people if they also talked to themselves in that second person voice, and the response was about 50/50. I envy the people who only have the “I” voice and wonder if maybe they just didn’t grow up with a critical parent. Or in a critical society.
If you’re on Facebook, leave a comment as to your experience. As you start to pay attention to what you are thinking, do you ever call yourself by name? Do you always use “I” or do you ever hear yourself saying “you”?