Haunting Thoughts

An excerpt from the fictional tales of The Daily Beacon.

Dear Rich, my mind is filled with a constant chatter that haunts my days. I’m wracked with anxiety, frustration, and self-doubt — among other things. It’s like my thoughts continually torture me with hurtful images of my past and my imagined future.

Dear reader, I can relate. It wasn’t that long ago that I had similar issues. Nowadays though, my mind is much cleaner. There’s still a thought-stream running through, but it’s not nearly as polluted. You see, I regularly monitor my thoughts and discard the trash.

The first step was recognizing that thoughts themselves can be worthless. I used to think every thought had merit, but no more — there are constructive thoughts and destructive thoughts.

The second step was defining which was which. Constructive thoughts are those that contribute to a satisfied state of mind. Destructive thoughts are those that induce a distressed state of mind. I could tell the difference by how I felt while entertaining a particular thought.

The third step was assigning these labels to each thought that passed through my mind. It seems tedious, but gets much easier and automatic over time. Sometimes I’d just sit quietly while thoughts poured in and I’d get to work. Other times I’d notice an unpleasant mood and determine which thoughts preceded it and assigned the appropriate label.

The fourth step was to dismantle each destructive thought. I could pluck it out of my thought-stream (simply stop thinking it) — or if it persisted, I could demolish it with logic. By any philosophical means, I would find some way to prove each destructive thought flawed, and not worthy of my attention.

This process brought me out of the negative and into the neutral. To get to the positive, I had to get philosophical. Essentially I had to stop believing in a concrete reality. That seems extreme, but it’s necessary. I was a pessimistic realist for decades, so I had to overcome those dour tendencies somehow.

Happy people are hopeful and trust in an underlying goodness to life — and so I needed to find a perspective that allowed me to do the same — and it worked, nowadays I am a much happier person. Thoughts come and go and I decide the metric by which to judge, I decide which are allowed to linger, and I set the scene in which they reside.

I’m not flawless at all this of course, but it has made quite the difference in my quality of life. So dear reader, that’s my story, perhaps it can help you in some similar way.

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