Thinking about thinking is pretty hard work. It’s a fairly abstract concept so I find it helpful to use imagery and metaphors to grasp some of the concepts that are so important to a healthy mind and body.
Thoughts are a little bit like a fish hook with barbs on it. We can very easily get hooked by our thoughts, reeled in and immersed in an ever-expanding fantasy that leaves us feeling upset, excited, worried, distressed or something else. The hooking nature of thought is very powerful.
When our mind throws out a line with a barbed hook at the end, that’s our thought, we often don’t even realise that we’ve grabbed hold of it. We can become firmly attached to it and we can have difficulty letting it go. We can find ourselves stuck, squirming and wriggling with the discomfort just as a fish does as it’s reeled in from the water.
But how do we stop ourselves getting hooked in the first place? And if we do get hooked, how can we free ourselves from those thoughts that leave us feeling really uncomfortable? How do we know which thoughts to let go of, and which ones to hold onto?
Daily practice of simply noticing your thoughts as they arise during an activity helps to train your brain to notice thoughts arising at other times, and to notice that they are simply thoughts or mental events. If you find the fish hook imagery useful, you can notice the hooks (or thoughts) being cast out, and you can notice which hooks (or thoughts) you cling on to.
When you notice that you’ve been hooked into a story of your mind that’s unhelpful and is keeping you stuck and struggling, picture yourself carefully prising the thought or the hook away. As you gently and carefully extract yourself from the barbs, perceiving the thought as a small but powerful hook that is separate to you, you’ll be able to lovingly let go of it, thank it for its care and concern in your life, and set yourself free.
Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.