How Do I Stop My Thinking?

How Do I Stop My Thinking?

Here is an exercise I got from a friend. Close your eyes. When you open them take 30 seconds to look around the room and notice everything that you see that is red.

Close your eyes again. Now answer the question. What did you see that was blue?

This exercise practically shows that if you are looking for red, you will see red which also means you most probably won’t see blue.

The point? If the solution you are looking for to the question “How do I stop my thinking?” is a technique to help you control or change your thinking (red), then you probably won’t see what I am pointing to (blue). You’re looking for technique and I want to give you understanding.

Let me explain by way of analogy. My kids have this game that they like to play when shabbos ends and we make havdalah. Who can put their finger through the flame of the candle? Now as a responsible parent I have tried to tell them that it’s not a great game because they may get burnt. But as kids do, they play it anyway, and inevitably, each of them has gotten burnt.

Now let me ask you something. Do my kids now need a technique how not to get burnt? Or do they understand that fire burns?

Do you see the difference between understanding and a technique? When I understand fire burns, I don’t need a technique not to get burnt. If I didn’t understand that (for example a child who is too young to make the connection), then I would need techniques to make sure it doesn’t happen, such as put the flame up high, put something around it or stand back. And the technique would probably have a shelf life. Meaning it may work for a while, but at some point it wouldn’t anymore and we would be left wondering why it isn’t working anymore.

Understanding, however, will always guide us. Understanding thought, how it works and our relationship to it is the solution that will bring relief.

I invite any and all questions you may have and will use this newsletter over time to answer them. Email your questions to Ask Aviva.

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By Aviva Barnett, MSW

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