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Tiny Wisdom: On Runaway Thoughts

“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.” ~Buddha

For the vast majority of my life, I took pride in being a fighter–which meant I was always ready for an attack so no one else could hurt me. The irony is that because of this mindset, I frequently hurt myself.

I was too busy guarding myself against other people's negative intentions to create positive intentions of my own. I was too preoccupied judging and doubting people to connect with them on a meaningful level.

The people and things I fought weren't the problem; my thoughts and assumptions were.

I find this is true for a lot of people: The things we're afraid of are nowhere near as damaging as the way we suffocate ourselves in those fears.

Today, if you find your thoughts taking on a life of their own, pulling you into a dark place that has nothing to do with what' actually going on in front of you, take a breath and let them go.

Make a conscious decision to see everything anew instead of tainting your perceptions with worst case scenarios.

The best things in life can only happen if we're fully open to experiencing and receiving them.

Photo by HaPe_Gera

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • 365gratitude

    Oh, how so very true. I just had this discussion with my counseling group this week. It seems to be a reoccurring theme for me right now. Thank you again for the nudge and reminder.

  • It’s alright to get angry for a short time, to understand why you are angry but then to let it go. I really understand the above essay about runaway thoughts for I do the same. I still do although I occasionally stop myself. I wish I could say I stop myself all of the time. I am working on it by staying mindful.

  • Highestexaultex77

    This is so true for myself. I often fnd my self having a argument with myself, I’m putting out there how I’m not gOing to let so and so get next to me “this time”. But the thing is, I’m doing nothing but stealing my own peace @ that moment. This is something I’ve been working on for the Past 6 months or so, not arguing with myself. I’m not going to steal my own peace away from me.

  • Sean Casey

    I love your posts… I wanted to give a bit of an alternate view on this…

    We can’t control our thoughts. Not at all. We can train ourselves. We can meditate. And I think that helps very much to quiet the crazy spin of thoughts. But just like life, we are a mix of things. I think it’s best to accept what is and not give that harsh judgment.

    What is most important is not controlling our thoughts, but rather in controlling which of those thoughts we give a voice. We can be gentle and loving with others and with ourselves. I think that is very important.

    By doing so, by making what is sometimes a very difficult choice, we have a positive effect on the world. And by doing so, we are less likely to pass judgment on others who also have a difficult time with what’s in their heads. I can’t be perfect this way, but in the choosing I find I am being most true to myself.

    One of the most powerful spiritual messages I ever heard was Pema Chodron admitting that even spiritual leaders have to deal with this. To me, that made them human. To me, it made me feel that grace was possible. It’s not about only thinking good things. It’s about the choices we make in how we affect others.

    The great thing is that the application of this creates a positive feedback loop. By choosing to do good, the hurt parts of us find another route of expression. And in that we reinforce the good in us, and we gradually move away from those hurtful ways of thinking.

    Love,

    Sean

  • Hi Sean,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate that you shared your insights, and I couldn’t agree more! I think there is a difference between guarding our thoughts and controlling our thoughts. Thoughts will come into our head sometimes before we even realize it–it’s just part of being human.

    What I’ve been working on is recognizing when a thought can lead to a certain emotional response that I’d rather not experience. In being objective, I can then stop that process before I spiral into a reactive cycle with thoughts evoking emotions evoking thoughts and then more emotions. So for me, it’s not so much about controlling my thoughts–it’s about recognizing them and learning when and how to let go before they get the best of me.

    I enjoyed reading about Pema Chodron’s perspective. We really aren’t all that different as people, and it’s comforting to remember that.

    Sending love back =)
    Lori

  • Hi Sean,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate that you shared your insights, and I couldn’t agree more! I think there is a difference between guarding our thoughts and controlling our thoughts. Thoughts will come into our head sometimes before we even realize it–it’s just part of being human.

    What I’ve been working on is recognizing when a thought can lead to a certain emotional response that I’d rather not experience. In being objective, I can then stop that process before I spiral into a reactive cycle with thoughts evoking emotions evoking thoughts and then more emotions. So for me, it’s not so much about controlling my thoughts–it’s about recognizing them and learning when and how to let go before they get the best of me.

    I enjoyed reading about Pema Chodron’s perspective. We really aren’t all that different as people, and it’s comforting to remember that.

    Sending love back =)
    Lori

  • Hi there! I suspect we all deal with this. Awareness is such a great first step. Once we know how we can make small adjustments in our thinking, it’s a lot easier to catch ourselves and put it into practice. Of course sometimes are harder than others (as I well know) but I’m learning perfection isn’t the goal–just progress. Thanks for commenting!

  • Hi there fellow Lori. =) I’m with you–I don’t stop myself all the time. But I think if we’re staying mindful we’re in good shape!

  • You’re most welcome. Thanks for commenting–your username and photo made me smile. =)

  • I totally needed to read this today. Thank you very much!

  • mean thoughts enter my head whenever this 1 person is in my presence. then i realize that i am the one who is harboring those thoughts, not that person. so i let it go and move on… =)

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