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36thoughtless

Learning To Not Think

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*Hey everybody, I wrote this last night and thought I'd post it here. It's about stuff that I'm currently working through. I hope that someone is able to get something out of it or can relate in some way.

At any one time, I have a million thoughts rolling around in my head. It's just part of me, part of my nature; and though it can be adjusted, there's also a high probability that that won't change. To a degree, I will always be uptight, because I'm overly aware and overly sensitive to the world around me. What other people can ignore with ease I've had to actively ignore or else defuse a build-up of frustration caused by all that in some healthy way. At the same time, however, it gives me a edge in some respects. I can see things others can't; I can create and accomplish things others can't because I'm so thorough.

I'm going to be honest: the people who tell others just to "relax" or "not overthink things" don't understand what they're asking people. If your mind doesn't activate or kick to high gear in certain situations, you never have to deal with that or try to figure out how to fix such a thing, even though others expect you to do so and hold you to that standard.

With the benefit of so-called "thorough thought" comes a hefty price: my life, particularly with respect to interpersonal activities, becomes incredibly and unnecessarily complicated. Why? Essentially, I have lived in a world separated from others. What I mean is that instead of living in existence, I am living in observation. I'm separated from my experiences because of constant thinking about those experiences while I'm having them.

Let me explain by way of a good metaphor someone shared with me: if we think about how birds fly, they basically have two modes: wing-flapping and gliding. They typically alternate between the two. If a bird constantly flapped their wings, we would probably think something was wrong with that bird. They would expend a whole lot more energy than was necessary for flight. They would tire easily and probably couldn't last the distance of other birds. The incessant flapping may provide some temporary benefit to the bird, but in the long run, the constant flapping problem is detrimental (bad).

This idea parallels human behavior. We experience and we think. We live by intuition or natural impulse, or that "gut feeling," and by active cognition, the process of thought. Most people alternate between intuition and cognition. If someone were to only live by instinct, that person would be very reckless and probably wouldn't get anything done; if someone were to only live by active thought because they thought their impulses were naturally faulty due to a terrible experience or set of terrible experiences, they would never get anything done either because they would be stuck in thought. Everything that person did would be second-guessed.

Now, in my case, I'm neither extreme, but what we can say for sure is that I lean on the active thought side. In other words, while people "just do it" or assume that they're right, in order to avoid mistakes or awkward situations, I actively process through things that people normally wouldn't do (which ironically creates mistakes and awkward situations). Whereas it bypasses emotion, which can be risky, it's like taking the living out of life.

This habit comes out of the need to control everything that goes on, and it only happens when someone hits a serious wall in life and has analytical tendencies. (They attempt manage cognitive dissonance by applying rationalization to literally everything.) The trick is to maintain self-control without heading into self-suppression. It's finding a balance between "just being" and "having a head on your shoulders".

In the norm, most people, even if they don't say this explicitly, assume they are right. Normal people don't choose things that they think are wrong, and if they do, they attempt to justify them. But normal people also don't assume they're making a mistake all the time. If they did, they would check and re-check everything. They'd live in a state of constant anxiety.

There's a whole lot more to this series of ideas...but that's good for now!

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Hi 36thoughtless,

Thank you for a very interesting post - it does bear some reading and thought provoking questions.

Well I do understand the physical and chemical make-up of the brain , the reactivating system and how thinking processes are generated and relayed ,and outcomes. This is pure structural neurobiology.

But my interest is in the area of development of thought processes, beliefs systems actions and reactions and the learning cycle (learning from learning)

My own day to day beliefs are that you can change anything you wish about your thinking style that will benefit you both emotionally and psychically. You can let nothing stop you from being the personality you wish to acquire. All of the 'top people' have developed 'thinking styles' that attracts people and high rewards. The know the art of NLP, matching, mirroring, pacing and leading people. .

When you feel passionately about something you can make some major shifts in your beliefs system, habitual response system , and rigid thinking style. You will move mountains and all mental blocks and change behaviours (what it takes) to really achieve your desired end and dreams.

No

one is stuck with a particular 'learned' thinking style. We can unlearn and relearn all the time. You do not know what you are capable off until you try.

Best Wishes

Jim Bow

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Like jimbow says, modern neuroscience indicates absolutely nothing about who we are is fixed. The interesting thing to me is that perception is thought, it is inseperable from it, and while it's not entirely obvious because much of it is automated and not conscious, we can alter those subconscious thinking patterns in such a way as to alter our perceptions of what we experience. Meditation, Mindfulness, NeuroFeedback, NLP and Faith are all methods for doing so.

When you say you live in a state of constant observation, I automatically assume this should be a good thing, but reading your post indicates you feel otherwise. If we are truely aware of our thoughts and experiences from a place of relative indifference, we have the option of engaging certain thoughts, and emotions that are benefical and skilfull, while letting go of the ones which are not, and this is a practice that is very difficult to master.

Much of what you are describing is a mode of thinking I am firmilar with, and imho one that causes much anxiety and depression, a constant thinking of and analysing of experiences as they happen. Forgive me for being blunt, but I think you would find much benefit in 'just being'. :)

Edited by Ghost01

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Much of what you are describing is a mode of thinking I am firmilar with, and imho one that causes much anxiety and depression, a constant thinking of and analysing of experiences as they happen. Forgive me for being blunt, but I think you would find much benefit in 'just being'. :)

I don't find that statement blunt at all, actually. Your advice is what I'm trying to do, albeit with mixed success. Currently, (and this may be of some value to you, americandownunder) I've been paying attention to moments where I feel self-limitation kick in. In other words, that automatic (at this point, anyway) reaction to suppress impulse. I'm trying to evaluate why I'm suppressing large parts of myself in the midst of certain situations.

What I've discovered so far is that I've got serious anger issues. Self-suppression kicked in as sort of a fail-safe switch, a coping mechanism designed to temporarily plug the leak of extreme passionate emotions, which I experience rather frequently.

So the trick is to shut down the suppression system of sorts that I've created, and ultimately, to loosen up.

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