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Don’t Believe Everything You Think

It just may not be true.

Photo by Tachina Lee

I admit, I think a lot. Often times I over-think, over-analyze, and over-complicate things. 

I have on more than one occasion (or more like countless times) found myself spinning out of control in my own loop of thinking and finally collapsing from mental and emotional overload as a result of it. 

Our rational thinking is important, isn’t it? Yes, it is, but the problem is that our thinking is not always rational nor correct. 

On top of that, our thoughts often go unchecked and we believe them as if they’re true, wreaking havoc in our lives without us knowing it. We base our actions on our thoughts — what if they’re wrong?

Have you ever been in a situation where you thought someone was being a jerk and ignoring your text, only to find out later that you forgot to hit ‘send’?

Or maybe you thought your friends excluded you from a party only to find out that the email invitation went to the spam folder.

We make assumptions and conclude with limited information and perception, and sometimes we know that we made a fool of ourselves but a lot of times, we don’t. 

We keep on with our thoughts and beliefs based on those assumptions and conclusions. 

Imagine relationships based on these assumptions and conclusions. I believe many of our relationships are.

Our interactions with each other are very often influenced by our false assumptions and conclusions, and as a result, we walk around hurt and resentful, making meaning about what happened and about ourselves. 

Think about the last upsetting interaction you had with someone. What exactly did happen? What were the actual events and what were the meaning you made about the events?

It might’ve been that someone was rude. It might’ve been that your partner ignored you or brushed you off. It might’ve been that your best friend betrayed you in some way. Whatever it might’ve been, pause and think for a minute.  

What are the facts and what are your interpretations? What are the real facts? 

In the case of someone being rude to you, could it be that the person spoke in a very quick manner with a voice that seemed a little louder than usual? 

And could it be that you interpreted that to mean that the person was being disrespectful to you or has something against you? Or you did something wrong or you’re weak or you’re been attacked?

What about your partner ignoring you? Could it be that he/she just didn’t hear you? Or he was being absent-minded or just plain preoccupied? Did you make it mean that he didn’t care about you and that you’re not important? 

Now I’m not saying to just brush off whatever happens and ignore bad behavior, but ask this questions before you act based on your quick assumptions and conclusions. How do you know that it’s indeed bad or questionable behavior? Could it be that it’s what you interpreted to be bad behavior?

We so often misinterpret and misunderstand other people’s intent and reasons behind their actions, and we often run with it and end up with a whole lot of meanings and stories that are far from the truth. 

We need to pause and take a moment to question our thoughts. Is it true what I’m thinking? Is this a fact or my interpretation?

The world is often seen through a lens that is colored by our own thoughts and beliefs, which are based on the interpretation of past experiences. 

Perhaps we can take a moment to pause and questions our thoughts, and make the lens a bit clearer by not believing everything we think.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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