It's funny how our unique strength as humans to contemplate life is also our biggest source of pain, when that contemplation is left undirected.
Think about the simplest daily occurrence that might happen to you. You're paying for your groceries, when the cashier gives you a strange look. For the next hour, you're analyzing why they looked at you like that, wondering what it could've meant. Did you do something wrong? Did they know you? Did they know something you didn't know?
Our minds are ruminating machines, analyzing most things that happen to us far more than necessary. Of course, they do this to protect us from physical threats. Fair enough, considering our minds have kept our species alive for hundreds of thousands of years.
But, there comes a point when we have to step in and say enough is enough.
Are our minds also not smart enough to discern the difference between a physical and emotional threat? At what point is the narrative no longer serving us? At what point does it venture from practical protection to impractical anxiety?
That's why getting in tune with the ever-changing nature of our thoughts and becoming aware of our own thinking patterns is so critical.
As soon as we're able to recognize the mind drifting into these narratives of who's right and who's wrong, who's to blame and who's not, the sooner we can step away from that tendency and watch it instead of become it.
While the mind will continue playing its game of survival, you don't have to participate in the game. Over time, you can get better at recognizing when the narrative might be important to heed, and when it's complete nonsense.
For me, it's sometimes difficult to tell. Is this something I should be concerned about? Is this a real threat? Even with physical pain - is this a pain I should consult a doctor for, or is it just fleeting? It's not always immediately apparent whether or not the narrative is ultimately one we ought to listen to.
And that's why it's also critical that we also work with the uncertainty, the limbo period, that happens between times of certainty. If we can't know the outcome of a particular action, we can at least know the unknowing. That is, we can know that we don't know.
We must always stand guard at the door of our minds, not only feeding it with the right stuff, but also not getting caught in the constant narratives at play.
We can be free. In fact, we already are free. It's just about recognizing the narrative in each moment, and who we are in relation to it.
Live with substance!