Daily Reflection – Chain Reactions
As valuable as the emotional release of writing poetry can be, often it is better to express some thoughts in more of a prose style. For poetic thinking can be quite a compulsive outpouring at times. While something I want to focus on right now, is to stop and think more about my thoughts. To assess them, mull over them, and not rush to emotional chain reactions of thoughts. For this obsessive, compulsive style of thinking has been a real problem for me the past few months, and has effected my health in many ways. Yes, it has brought out some creative poetry from me, and some valuable insights and inspirations, but it has also unleashed a lot of negativity and demons in my thoughts about others that often can go into a downward spiral of negative thoughts feeding negative feelings, that inspires more negative thoughts, and so on in a vicious circle.
A book I started reading lately, alongside speaking to some people has helped me to gradually come to this realisation. The book is called mind power. And the realisation is quite a simple one. In fact it is one that my official philosophy should mean I would have known about already, but somewhere it seems I lost track of the practical implications of my theoretical views regarding the mind-body connection, and all of that stuff. Basically the point is that we are not slaves to the thoughts that come through our minds. Yes, we cannot avoid the content of our thoughts, at times this comes on us at a whim out of our control, but what we can control is how we assess those thoughts, and we can control whether we choose to follow that thought into a deadly physiological spiral of bad thought, bad feeling, more bad thoughts, more bad feelings, etc..
These chain reactions can be avoided, and it is our own choice to do so. We cannot blame anyone else, no one else can help us here, we have to choose to help ourselves. The hope is that once I do this I can avoid some of my usual self sabotaging thoughts, where I am too hard on myself in my assessment of my thoughts, and give in to a self defeatist chain reaction. Having said all this, there is another aspect to it, a more practical side, which is that in our lives we need to give ourselves some space by asserting our rights and standing our ground against unhealthy intrusions. If you let others in too much, and do not assert your own basic rights, you will never have the peace of mind to begin pursuing these techniques for controlling your assessment of your own thoughts.
The converse side is that positive thoughts can also create a chain reaction, of positive feelings, more positive thoughts etc, so this is something to focus on and work on. The best way I have found up to now to do this, which has worked on a few occasions is simply smiling, rather than arbitrarily trying to construct positive thoughts, as out of a vacuum this can feel fake and contrived, you smile and start thinking the positive thoughts at the same time, this way you get the positive feel also, as looking in the mirror, or someone else smiling back is reassuring and adds to the positivity. This interplay between mind and physiology is crucial. Many, including myself, may say, but surely this is a fake process. But then, what is more fake: an actual smile, or a thought in your head? Surely a smile has more reality than some thought running through your head? So detach a bit from that thought, don’t let it dictate your reality. Maybe my philosophical idealism here causes some problems for me, as I tend to take thoughts and mind as the primary reality. The truth could be much more like the physical subject of Merleau-Ponty. There is an interplay between mind and body, and each provides a context and meaning for the other.
Does this mean my ontology is wrong? Maybe I will need to reassess some of my priorities in this area, as the last month or two has shown me that my thoughts have been ineffectual in reality, other than when they are positive, and they are effective when positive because they are connected up with positive chemicals and feelings in my body and physiology that promote me to pursue those things more, build my confidence and most importantly build others confidence and assurance in me. Thoughts do not exist in a vacuum, though they may come out of nowhere often, when we have them they are channeled through our body and our senses and influence our emotions as to what thoughts to have next. And so the thought is not the causal agency, just as we may get dazzled by a bright light, a powerful thought can at times seem to be a causal agency all of its own, the reality is that there is some other source of that light, and then there is ourselves who can choose how we react to the stimulus. This sort of puts me back towards some sort of dualism in mind/body, when I have long been an idealist, which is interesting in itself, and something I will need to think on more at a future time.