Thoughts Think Themselves

Living with mental illness means acknowledging and experiencing uncomfortable feelings. My natural reaction to unpleasant emotions is to resist them. I want to turn on a podcast or an audiobook. 

Allowing myself to sit with the discomfort of suicidal imagery - instead of pushing it out of my mind can be frightening. Staying with the guilt of being a "bad" employee when I'm not productive feels terrible.

Suicidal thoughts are just that - thoughts. I didn't ask for them. I didn't put them there. The line "Thoughts think themselves" from Robert Wright's "Why Buddhism is True" has become my mantra. The suffering I experience is from my reaction and repulsion to those thoughts. I take responsibility for something over which I have no control.

The guilt I feel over action or inaction in any given scenario result from my projected assumptions of how my actions affect others. I rob them of agency and prescribe emotions to them. To step back and sit with the feelings of guilt instead of trying to avoid them - I notice the disconnect between these thoughts and reality.

I am not very good at these skills yet. Every day, I fall into the trap of taking responsibility for a world around me that I have little control over - including the thoughts in my head. But in the brief moments when I remember to sit with my feelings and let them pass, I glimpse what my future could look like if I keep practicing this skill. I am excited for tomorrow.

Photo by Daniel Páscoa on Unsplash