8. Discerning your thoughts (just because you can think it doesn’t mean it is good or helpful)

December 5, 2017 in 10 Spiritual Exercises for Everyone

Descartes claim “I think therefore I am” gave way to a whole culture of the superiority of ideas and a downgrading of experience and the body. The contemporary growth of extreme ideologies is a sign of this, thinking divorced from reality. People often live in ‘their heads’, slave to ideas and thoughts, which can wreak havoc with their mental health. Modern day Mindfulness and CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) are designed to address the harm that over thinking and ruminating can do. The problem is that thinking appears so harmless and yet establishes tyranny over one’s mind, driving people to distraction, destroying mental health or worse. The thing is: not all ideas are helpful or benign, they need to be screened or discerned before they are allowed entry.

Try this exercise:

Become aware to your thoughts or habitual ways of thinking. Ask yourself how these thoughts affect you. For example, negative or cynical thoughts if entertained have a particular effect on our feelings and our bodies (it can even affect our body chemistry and neurotransmitters). What would be a better way to think, how can I break destructive thought patterns? What additional help should I seek (self-help resources, a counsellor, CBT websites)?