Do you ever catch yourself drifting into a completely random train of thoughts and wonder why you just thought those things? Our inner voices are super powerful and can take over if we don’t consciously take control.
Zoning out, or daydreaming, is something I’ve done all my life. I would daydream in class, or when I was ‘doing homework’. It wasn’t intentional; it simply means I wasn’t engaging with what was actually in front of me. Even to this day I zone out, I’m pretty sure everyone does. But there is a significant difference between how I used to daydream back then versus now.
I’ve spent a lot of time mindfully trying to become more and more self-aware. As I’ve worked on awareness, I can now realize when I've zoned out. I then choose to analyze my thoughts and ponder why I’m thinking those specific things. I watch the train take off from a single thought and make its way to all types of different stations in unique areas and a spectrum of emotions. I pause and I think about my ‘zone out’.
Let’s worry about the why later. For now, let’s try and understand where the zoning out is going, and which of those thoughts are actually necessary rather than harming.
The other night, as I lay still in bed before going to sleep I had a variety of different thoughts. First, was a feeling of guilt because I was missing my cousins wedding overseas, due to work circumstances that weren’t in my hands. Then I took the guilt train and felt the same about other things: I should be nicer to my parents, my family, I should make more of an effort with my friends. As the train started to ramp up speed, I paused. “Why the hell am I thinking about this right now?”, I thought to myself. I did my best, but couldn’t make the wedding, there should be no guilt - effort was made. Then the following thought; is now really the time to feel this guilt...right before sleeping? Nothing new or fresh had really happened, these were all old recurring thoughts.
In that moment, I stopped watching the guilt train and I looked at the other stations. There were so many stations to choose from, including one of my favorites: Grateful Station. Earlier that week, I had read a piece about how the feeling of gratitude has a scientific impact on our nervous system and actually triggers positive responses within our physical being, ultimately resulting in a better state of overall wellbeing.
Knowing what I read about gratitude, plus what I know about the feeling of guilt, and having the self-awareness to catch the train before it spirals out of control led me to think: I can curate my own thoughts.
The thoughts we have our incessant; our inner voice will not cease. I don’t think it should stop, that’s a big part of what makes us who we are. What we can do, however, is gain control of ourselves by improving our awareness and using that to curate the thoughts that are mostly good for us. By no means do I think we should only think positive and happy thoughts; there is a time and a figurative place for us to lean in to sadness and negativity etc. But there is very little reason to lay up at night, awake and feeling guilt, whether the feelings are justified or not.
Curating is basically choosing. We curate our meals everyday; whether we buy food or cook it, we’re choosing what we put in our bodies. We also curate the content we watch, our social media accounts, who we follow, what we read, what we write, so why not curate our thoughts?
Just a thought.