Our Thoughts are like Unfiltered Water

Some days I have what feels like a million thoughts running through my head. Whether I’m driving somewhere, taking a bath, going for a walk or listening to a song on the radio, thoughts can just run in and out of my head like a busy freeway. I’ve read that it’s perfectly ‘normal’ and healthy to have so many thoughts but it’s what we do with them that matters.

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I look at my thoughts much like unfiltered water from an ocean filled with impurities and discarded elements like tires and tin cans. Some thoughts I remember and some whiz by like bullet trains.

I sometimes ruminate and hold onto unhealthy thoughts for a long time. Whenever this happens it feels as though I’m in a momentary trance and the thoughts connect into other thoughts like magnets and before I know it, I have a collection of unhealthy thoughts in my mind that has created a story of its own. Most of the time these stories have an underlying theme that I’m unlovable, unworthy or insecure.

The negative self-talk typically leads me to externalize my troubles and I become judgmental and presumptuous of others in the worst ways.

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What I’ve been learning and discovering is that I need to filter these impurities and raise awareness that these are just thoughts. Nothing is right or wrong, they’re just thoughts. When I can see “thoughts” as simply a noun or some object, instead of this overpowering force that can consume me, I can almost snap out of ruminating and realize that none of those thoughts are necessarily real or true. It’s almost as though I need to short-circuit the thoughts from getting carried away and building momentum until it consumes me with thoughts of depression, anger or shame. (read My 4 Stages of Depression and How I Manage Through it.)

When I dig deeper and interpret all this, these unhealthy thoughts are actually triggers that trace back to my abused childhood. Once I connect the dots, it almost feels liberating because it helps me understand myself better and making it possible to forgive myself in the process. The shift allows me the momentary space to make a change in my thought process.

For the last little while it feels sort of like a game to me. Whenever my mind ruminates and I successfully catch myself doing that, it feels like a tiny little victory. I believe that if I’m successful long enough in catching myself with these unhealthy thoughts, I might be able to reframe how I think and it might just become easier and easier down the road for me. Practice makes perfect, right?

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(also read When to say no to Ice Cream Floats and a Lesson in Listening to your Pain.)

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