Compulsive Thinking Today
The prison of obsessive thinking keeps us trapped somewhere when the door out is unlocked. I really like the story that Tara Brach tells about Houdini not escaping a jail cell because he worked and worked on the lock not considering that the door was already unlocked.
And she also said…that we (people like me) tend to live life like it is problem to be solved. I don’t want to live life like that anymore.
Then I must reflect on everything I have been obsessing about today that is not in fact a problem that I have to solve or a situation that I am trapped in. I want to see how I am not “locked in” like my thoughts have me believe…
Everything I can think of:
Getting up out of bed – obsessing about how i will meet an insurmountable mountain of obligations when I get up. “How can I get out of bed and not feel like I have so much on my plate…I might as well just give up before I even get up!” I might as well stay in bed…and think about the impossibility of getting thins done, about the absent G, about all I my mistakes, about how I failed to get catch up with things yesterday and the day before, and wait until something (outside of me) changes.
But if I cannot change the circumstances and I have to go to work, and teach and write, and eat, and do my chores, and keeping on living despite making mistakes over and over, just thinking about it all is not going to help. Waiting is not going to help. I am not ‘trapped’ in bed by my difficult situation. I am trapped by my thinking. The door is open and I can get up and just ‘do’.
– obsessing about how taking the bus is a problem (nausea discomfort time suck) I have to solve…I don’t have any choice but to get up and take the bus. Obsessing/thinking about how uncomfortable it is and how nauseous it makes me and how long it takes is not going make It more comfortable or less nauseous or less time-consuming.
The fact is that I can drive the car or take the bus. And taking the bus solves my concern with costs. Leaving me with less obsessing over money…sigh
– obsessing over responding to my mother. I think if I think about it long enough I will figure out a way to communicate with her that she will actually hear me and respond the way that doesn’t hurt or frustrate me. That door is ‘not locked’ either. It is not a conundrum if I know that the door is ‘not locked’… Feeling trapped my my mother’s feelings and thoughts and opinions is due to my obsessing about her thoughts and opinions and how frustrated I am with her. If I remember that I am in my body and mind and not hers, I don’t have to change that. I only have to go about what I would normally do! I don’t have to respond to every message because her obsession is not my trap, it is hers. I don’t have to make her feel not so upset, because I am not the cause of her upset in the first place. If I want away from her upset, I give myself that distance. I am free to walk out the proverbial door. Make myself happy elsewhere, fulfill my needs elsewhere. And then empathize with her later if I feel for that.
– obsessively worrying about writing chapters every day, about how slow I am or about how unclear and fatigued my thinking is so much of the time keeps me trapped inside “I am not finishing my dissertation”. Walking out the door of that conversation with myself frees me from staying unproductive and being upset about it. Thinking about the problems doesn’t solve them. Only doing something in response to them does.
Like Houdini…thinking about how to get the door open does not get you out of the trap. Giving the knob a turn does. And then walking through.
Obsessing about how little energy or time I have to go swimming does not solve those things and get me swimming. Actually responding to my low energy and altering my plans or schedule gets me swimming.
I’ve got to practice this a little more. Look forward to it 🙂