Before talking in detail about bad thoughts, let me give some context.
A terrible nightmare woke me up at 3 AM this morning. After that, I went into a 30 minutes or so of ridiculous post-dream analysis.
I felt terrible. Weak. The dream and its thoughts were miserable!
I restrain myself from using the lessons from Vedic and Buddhist spirituality I once learnt. I dumped them after practicing for a lot of years, because I felt they were limiting my world-view and perspectives.
But this morning I the petty thoughts were intolerable. The more I argued with myself, the more I suffered.
So, after a long gap, I took out that spiritual-weapon. Focusing, drowning and losing myself on a feeling of nothingness!
It helped me fall asleep.
But that episode is still haunting me right now. Like a wound it persists. I don’t know what to do with it. It is injuring and damaging.
I have decided to write about them here to see what happens!
True and False are also essential to us.
If I am hiking in the woods and a thought suddenly says — A tiger is approaching, my immediate reaction will be to be alert and then look around. I do this because I want a proof of that thought. If I don’t find any, I relax a tad and walk on. This is because I haven’t found any justified truth to what the thought told me.
But still why my thought may have told me that is a question that won’t let me relax completely. If I can relax a bit, it’s only because I found a certain false in the thought statement.
However, if I notice birds flying or other animals making hasteful noise when I look around, I have found some evidence to support that thought, which increases my heartbeat, gets me sweating and emotionally injures me after which I start to figure out mechanisms of defence. This is because I found a certain truth in the thought.
But the differentiation between true and false is not an easy task as thoughts in themselves do not provide us with any distinction. Thoughts in isolation can be either. False thoughts can be judged as being true and vice-versa. As happened to me this morning, I panicked because I took the thoughts as being true which may or may not have been the case.
This is where a faculty in us called thinking is to be used for — locating evidence.
Evidence is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as:
the facts, signs or objects that make you believe that something is true
In the case of the tiger in the woods, I searched for facts, signs or objects that had to prove to me that the tiger was there. In the case where I did not find any, I relaxed and moved on, whereas when I found some, I panicked and began thinking self-defence.
But figuring out the evidence wasn’t so easy this morning. For one, the dream and the subsequent thoughts told me things that were detrimental which was followed by imaginative ‘evidence’ which then emotionally injured me.
Unlike the tiger-case, I had no way of identifying facts, signs or objects as the thoughts were not about my immediate physical environment. They were about my self-worth and poor-decisions.
I then tried to argue with the evidence it provided by searching for counter-evidences which were again countered…
Now, how do I correctly gather evidence to judge the true or false thoughts that are about things as subjective as self-worth and decisions?
In other words, How do I deal with injurious subjective thoughts?
If my thoughts tell me that I am worthless, justified by an immediate evidence of me not earning money currently, which then injures me; how do I deal with them?
The path I chose was of ignoring — focusing, drowning and losing myself on a feeling of nothingness!
Is that it? The best solution? Is it healthy?
My purpose behind writing this was to just interpret whatever had happened this morning with me. As I have been writing, I have been noticing how absurd but effective the spiritual method is. While it would have been a stupid act in the woods, it does seem to be a worthwhile act in the safety of bed. That is, in the domains of subjective thoughts.
But in the long-term it seems hazardous. Since it is like tucking away an object of discomfort, I think it won’t stop thoughts from haunting you after a certain period. As I said in the beginning, while I did manage to fall asleep, the wound hasn’t left me.
A long-term approach such as that is sure to keep one away from addressing the issues at hand turning one’s life into one with ignorance. It was one of the reasons I had stopped using their teachings altogether because I thought they were limiting my world-view and perspectives.
So what is the solution?
I think I have found a few:
(Please remember that I am only talking about injurious thoughts related to Self-Worth and Decisions)
Irrespective of the situation and threat, the only thing we can do that will not have any repercussions in both short and long-term and will only help us in dealing with the injury better is to be strong. Come what may I will deal with it could be the best thing to remind yourself during a crisis.
While seeking evidence may not be as easy as in the immediate and physical scenarios, I think we should try to look for real-life proof of the doubts we are having. Trying to answer questions such as — What is the basis of the thoughts I am having? How can I prove it? What may have triggered it? can prove to be helpful as they take us away from the injury into the lands of scrutiny, where we have control (somewhat). This questioning I believe is the apt method to judge the true or false thoughts that are about things as subjective as self-worth and decisions
Remind yourself of deeds done:
This is where every deed ever done comes into play. Reminding ourselves of each act of success achieved, however trivial, can prove to be very useful. Maybe it is a game won, a road travelled, an adventure, an obstacle that had been overcome!
For me the purpose behind writing this was to — firstly, interpret what had happened to me earlier and then to hopefully heal myself through it.
I think I have successfully managed to do it (for now).
Writing for me is very important for many reasons. I am feeling the beauty and reality of one of those right now.