“Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that—thoughts.”
Oftentimes I find myself ruminating on thoughts and ideas I have, but don’t do anything about (or thoughts I wish I had acted on). They plague my mind and make me feel anxious, unsure, lonely… Many times, I think back on a conversation I had, and imagine how I could have said things differently. I often shrink back in conversations—especially confrontations. I get that ‘deer in the headlights’ feeling and my mind goes blank. That doesn’t stop me from thinking about it later, though, and wishing I had done things differently now that the pressure is gone and I’m no longer ‘blank’.
However, thoughts are just thoughts. They don’t dictate my worthiness. If I didn’t act on a thought, it was probably for a good reason. If I didn’t have a snappy come back, or even an insightful idea, that doesn’t mean that I am dumb, lazy, uncaring, unworthy. It means that I had (or didn’t have) a thought, and now I am where I am.
There is a lot of energy that goes into the feelings we have—whether we are aware of those feelings or not. That’s why depressed people are chronically tired. I, for one, never seem to know what I’m feeling; or if I have an idea, it’s usually inaccurate (I recently discovered that often when I am angry, I am actually sad and hurt).
Rather than sit and spend that energy thinking unproductive thoughts, we can put the energy to use. We don’t necessarily have to get up and get out, however. We can make art. My favorite method of creating art is with knitting and crochet. I sit and knit and let each stitch receive my energy rather than the negative thoughts. Sometimes if I knit when I’m angry, anxious, sad, or lonely, my knitting is tight and stiff; my hands hurt after the fact.
If, however, I take a deep breath, stay mindful (that is, I’m not ignoring the feelings, just giving them space for a moment), and try to relax, the final piece—finished or unfinished—comes out a bit softer. Creating art—whether with paint, pencils, crayons, yarn, or any material—gives us an outlet. So, if the piece does come out stiff, it doesn’t matter. It’s often not about the finished product, but the process of creating that calms the mind and puts us at ease. It’s all about progress over perfection.
What will you make this week to aid in your mindfulness journey?