May 4, 2021•539 words
When it really comes down to it, thoughts are there because of external circumstances we've encountered in our lives. They don’t have anything to do with who we really are, yet they seem to actively dictate exactly that. When I engage with my thoughts, I’m engaging with this accumulated collection of self-perpetuating voice records that’s embedded itself in my system. Distracting me 24/7 and telling me, or at least implying to me, who and what I am.
It’s why things like CBT and positive affirmations seem inherently limited and limiting to me. We use conscious effort to change the nature and shape of the words while continuing to engage with them, maintaining a dialogue with them, a relationship with them, continuing to examine them and give them power. It makes more sense to me to sidestep the whole thing entirely. Let them be, positive or negative, and don’t give them any authority. Don’t take them as true, because they’re not. That said, I decided to start incorporating both because I realized that, as true as it may be, I'm not always alert enough to realize I'm engaging in a game with words and the negative ones I've been heavily programmed with continue to kick my ass. So maybe CBT and affirmations are a step on the way. If the thoughts are particularly tyrannical one may have to work at softening before releasing them. Before that which is beyond words can take the wheel.
But yes, this game of negative and positive thoughts. Hear negative thought, body feel bad. Hear positive thought, body feel good. Therefore, make more positive thought and less negative thought. Seems simple enough. But the fact is, it’s tenuous bullshit either way. Collections of words floating across the sky, jerking our systems around, causing us to act and feel according to their arbitrary arising. It’s basically programmed chatter on a loop.
We can program ourselves with more convenient chatter that helps us reach our goals but the essence is the same. Words in space that we’ve given power and authority to. Underneath the mask of confidence positive thinking may give us, I think we know deep down that we’re deluding ourselves. That we’re engaging in a kind of mental masturbation.
What would it be like to stop engaging with them? I've been there a few times and found it to be liberating and beautiful (more words?). But I fell back. Back into wordplay, back into a relationship with them. Back into defining and contextualizing and cutting up and judging and controlling and assigning.
I seem to love playing with them, but that’s all it really is in the end. A conceptual game. This from that, that from this. This word gooder than that word, that word badder than this word. I gooder than this word, I badder than that word. This word make happy, that word make sad. Words words words.
Once a thing is defined and the words are assigned, it becomes true - to me, to us. Truth in this case therefore being entirely subjective and relative. What are my thoughts telling me is true about this? What are they telling me is untrue about this? A self-contained game of bullshit. Bullshit bullshitting bullshit.