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If I didn't think. Friday July 22, 2016

"If I didn't think, I'd be much happier." Sylvia Plath

This quotation (there is a second part but I have chosen not to include it but concentrate on the first part - for the purists) means a lot to me. People have often told me that I think way too much and if I didn't think as much I would be more peaceful, calmer and possibly happier.

Now we are encouraged to change the way we think. We are told that what you think affects how you feel, so if you want to feel better we should change how we think. Counsellors challenge our pattern of thinking and show us different ways of thinking will hopefully be more helpful.

Why is thinking so problematic for some of us? Would we be much happier if we didn't think or didn't think as much.

Various studies have shown that the average person has more than 30,000 thoughts a day. About 90% of those thoughts are repetitive and 80% can be classed as negative.

Some of you will say 30,000 thoughts, I would not think that much in a year while others will say, like me, 30,000 thoughts, I think that before breakfast!

Negative here means those thoughts that do not give anything beneficial like support for our desires, health, ideas and accomplishments. Those thoughts are really your mind worrying, planning, going over and over problems. This means that studies show that the majority of our thoughts are a constant negative force in our body-mind because they deprive us of energy and mental peace.

I often wonder how this research is done and who does it. What machine is there that can detect 30,000 thoughts?

Would you agree that 90% of your thoughts are repetitive and 80% are negative? I would say some days that would be true but on other days it maybe half positive and half negative thoughts.

I know people who don't seem to think and worry as much as I do and they seem happier.

Do you think you would be happier if you didn't think so much or if you thought more productively, more positively?

What have you found that helps you to change your negative thoughts?

Leah
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


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Comments

Lou Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 6:53am

"People have often told me that I think way too much and if I didn't think as much I would be more peaceful, calmer and possibly happier."

I have people in my life who keep telling this or it's companion "you mustn't think like that" or my personal favourite "don't worry about it". Funny that there is never any magic solution provided with this advice as to how to achieve these changes!

I enjoyed this blog and found myself nodding along. But...if I didn't think I wouldn't be me! One of the things that helped me deal with my depression at its very worst was being able to lose myself in my studies which required a lot of thinking! But it did give my something else to think about instead of getting stuck on it's hamster wheel of rumination!

As for changing the thought patterns and the rumination permanently..well that's still a work in progress!

I find that the mindful idea that "thoughts are not facts" does provide enough pause to stop the hamster before he gets on his wheel.

Thanks for the productive food for thought Leah!

Lou

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 9:15am

Thanks Lou for your thoughful reply. I can relate to "if I didnt think I wouldnt be me."

Orangeblossom Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 6:55am

Hi Leah, your blog entirely resonates for me. I also have a tendendency to overthink. I have been doing a mindfulness course designed by Neil Frude for three weeks which has been divided into 4 Acts. The final Act is being delivered on 10 August & after that I am considering writing a blog. It is quite interesting & entiitled Activate Your Life. There may be things in it that may help you to quieten an over-active mind. Might be one delivered in your area.

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 9:16am

Orangeblossom, I look forward to your blog. I have always had trouble with mindfulness but I keep trying.Thanks for your helpful comments.

Christine Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 7:32am

Well Leah, I found your blog really resonated with me, I feel perhaps that I think too much, if I could just switch off the negative thoughts! and think more positive life affirming ones I would be on the way to feeling better about myself and my outlook on life. but it is difficult, I don't really know how to do that.
thanks for your blog, all of your blogs, they help me to feel that I'm not alone in the way my mind works!!

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 9:18am

Christine, Maybe we need a new support group for overthinkers! Thanks for your kind words.

Jo Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 7:55am

Hello all,using ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) techniques might help. The first thing to remember is that we cannot do anything about our initial thought, however random or 'negative'they are. They are thoughts they are not you. It's what we do with that thought that is the issue. Noticing your thoughts is the first step. 2 step is diffusing the thought, this can be done by saying 'is this helpful?' If you can catch it, then use some of orangebottoms mindfulness techniques and bring yourself back to the here and now. It needs practice but neuroscience and scans has shown these techniques do work.

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 9:20am

Jo, Thanks for your advice. I have tried those techniques and some days I have more luck with them than others. I do like the way my brain works and the ideas I can generate so maybeI have to take the good woith the bad!!

Mimine Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 8:23am

Thank you Jo and Orangeblossom for the recommendation about "Activate your life". I have just looked on line for further information and am going to enquire to see if similar courses are available in Hertfordshire (UK). Is it offered free on the NHS? In any case there is a lot of free recordings and downloadable questionaires on line. I hope the above is acceptable to Moodscope as a way of sharing useful info. Thank you for being such a fabulous platform!

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 9:20am

Mimine, Thanks for your comments. I hope that information helps you.

Belinda Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 8:38am

Hi Leah,
I too felt some of your blog could apply to me. I used to have many more negative thoughts than I do now. I have been taught to become more grateful; to see the little blessings within the difficult situations I have found myself in.

For me, using the scriptures as Jesus taught them has helped. As I took each of my negative thoughts & attempted to replace it with another of the truth that Jesus' taught, over time things have improved, (as bourne out by my Moodscope chart.)

An impossibility, you might say, but I believe with the help of God, He enabled me; it was about changing what I actually believed, and continuing to (attempt to) believe it even when I had difficulty, (believing).

With the state of affairs, over the last few months, for me it was so hard & so exhausting, I felt there was little reason to live, except for Him.

I see it a little like a mental gym. Firstly there is a challenge. I have a go at holding on to a saying of Jesus. Then another challenge, a bit bigger. Then eventually a followed a task that I knew I was unable to do. But thank the Lord, it was achieved. I had never believed in myself, or Him to that extent before.
There now continues another task nearly of equal magnitude, but different. Another challenge. And so it goes on.

Knowing that there is a Father in heaven who loves me, wants the best for me, and will do whatever it takes to cause me to do what is right for me, but also knowing that He will never leave me does give me hope.
That thinking has completely changed from the initial days when I didn't have hope.

Those of you who do not have a faith might think, I've heard it all before.
I do not wish to preach but explain how I was enabled to change. I can't take all the credit; I had to change & He then helped me.
I encourage you all. There is a way. That way for me is Jesus.

If you have read to the end, congratulations. May you be greatly blessed.

With love

Belinda xx

Hopeful One Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 8:50am

Hi Belinda- I did read it to the end. If it works for you that is all that matters.

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 9:22am

Belinda, Thanks for your detailed response. If your beliefs have helped you that is the main thing. All the best.

Hopeful One Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 8:49am

Hi Leah- a thought provoking blog (pun not intended).For me the thing to grasp was that our thoughts are automatic. One cannot control them. If one could one would block out all the unhappy thoughts and live with one's happy thoughts ever after. Clearly that does not happen. Most of our thoughts are negative as it is our 'flight.fright and freeze' centre working in the background subliminally- a remnant of our evolutionary past.What we CAN do is to change our relationship with these thoughts be they good,bad happy or sad. Meditation will achieve that. We could also change our interpretation of the events that occur in our lives from a negative to a positive interpretation. Both approaches need practice.

OK our laugh today.For some?

Joey was a great guy with wonderful qualities except for unbelievably stinky feet. Sheila was a fabulous gal with everything going for her except her terrible breath. Because of these qualities neither dared to date anyone. When they met, however, they knew they were right for each other. As the relationship grew neither could reveal their embarrassing features to each other. When Joey wanted to kiss her, Sheila would decline. Sheila would want to take long walks on the beach but Joey would refuse. Later they decided to get married and in their hotel room the moment that comes to all newlyweds had arrived. Sheila decided to reveal her secret and said' "Joey there is something I must tell you. I..." Joey interrupted, "I know, you ate my socks"

Leah can we just agree to disagree re we cannot love or care for others more than we care for ourselves?

RATG are you OK?

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 9:23am

Sure Hopeful one- agree to disagree I think thats what i wrote yesterday. AS my mum used to stay would be a boring old world if we all thought the same.

the room above the garage Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 3:09pm

Hello HO, THANK YOU for asking. I feel sore and low but definitely a rung up from yesterday. The tears have stopped falling too. I hope a corner was turned. Thank you boyo, cyber friends are valuable xxx.

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 11:17pm

Hopeful one, just read your joke! Thanks made me smile.

DAVE Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 9:13am

Hi Leah,

I think you're spot on with your thoughts today.

In my recent blogs I stress that negativity is the major obstacle in which we need to overcome.

If as you say 90% thoughts are repetitive and 80% of those thoughts are negative, there is tremendous scope for us to turn around negative thoughts and become more assertive in thought word and deed.

That inner Happiness and inner peace, (which I enjoy) becomes the norm where we are in control, not permitting others to have power over us, when we have put to bed FINALLY, procrastination, we achieve a sort of level of self confidence, not known, which becomes the very incentive we need to continue consistently, with a positive frame of mind. We actually depart from these negative thoughts or as I say be rid for good of SELF-INFLICTED adversities.

You do not mention the remaining 10%....I believe this is the happiness a capsule, a particle of Bipolar depression generally speaking, which needs to be escalated, turning that 80% negative to POSITIVE.

In so doing those 30,000 thoughts will automatically be HALVED, as our minds have less to worry about concerning these negative thoughts. We will have at last gained control of our life, and started at the bottom of the ladder so-to-speak, to obtain this order in every facet of our lives.

Leah, I believe passionately in what Eleanor Roosevelt (wife of former American President) quoting Albert Einstein in saying......QUOTE:-

"IF YOU ALWAYS DO WHAT YOU'VE ALWAYS DONE, YOU'LL ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU'VE ALWAYS GOT".
CLOSE QUOTE.

or in my words....

If you always get, what you've always got, carry on doing what you've always done.


We cannot pursuade others to be positive, we have to make the changes ourselves, or be forever grumbling about our lot, ( no offence intended) but only stress that for me with Bipolar, particularly depression, it iwas a complete change of life, happier than I've ever been for years and years.

I do hope I have expressed clearly in the aforementioned, and may throw some light and will help.
Dave.

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 9:25am

Dave, as always you have written a great post that has given me lots to think about and to cosider later. Thanks again for your interesting reply.

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 9:26am

RATG,
I am thinking of you and hope you slept a bit a find five miutes of peace today. Take care Leah xxx

the room above the garage Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 3:11pm

Hello lovely girl, a short, but undisturbed sleep! A little brighter today. If yesterday was a 1, then today is a 2. It's the right direction. So grateful for your help yesterday xxx.

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 11:16pm

RATG so good to hear a 2 is double a 1. I also think or know you helped so many people by your honesty. When I feel that low I find it almost imossible to write one word, but when I read your words I really gor relate to them.That as I said is a gift you have. Thanks so much for replying with an update as I know that is hard. Take care xx

Vivien Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 11:55am

Hi everyone, this blog really touched a nerve. My problem is I think too much. How I get through it, is to do something that is not me. Listen to a Radio station that isn't light and airy - listening to something that is a boring subject or something I know nothing about, helps me to forget, albeit temporarily, about my negativity. I've always thought 'I'd be dangerous if I had a brain' but hey I've got one! I even do something out of my comfort zone, or read a book that is of a subject I know nothing about. I may only do these things for a short time, but it certainly helps.
Take care all xxx

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 12:26pm

Vivien, Thanks for your reply with some interesting points to consider.

Bearofliddlebrain Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 12:19pm

....and if I didn't think so much, maybe I'd get better sleep!!
Great blog again, Leah, thankees!
Bear hugs to all x x x

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 12:27pm

Thanks Bear, glad to see your name.

Jul Sun, Jul 24th 2016 @ 12:28pm

I agree Bear. I think too much especially at night. Growl aaargh! Julxx

Maria Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 3:07pm

Wonderful blog Leah! I think about what I'm grateful for upon waking. This followed by meditation puts me in a positive state of mind that can influence my entire day. I learned recently that thoughts last for 90 seconds and will dissipate if we don't engage in them. While breathing deeply I imagine that thought floating into the flame of a candle and disappearing in a puff of smoke. It doesn't always work but has been very helpful to me. Much love to all!!!

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 10:58pm

Maria What a great reply. I like the idea of thinking about what you are grateful for upon waking except I tend to then think about too many things. I read that just being grateful you woke up is a good start to the day! I will work on the image of the though floating into a candle. Thanks again Maria.

Lexi Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 3:13pm

Hi Leah. Always love reading your blog. They touch so many people. My thoughts used to be - as eloquently put by Blake - "mind-forg'd manacles". I could whip up a drama in my mind in a matter of seconds that would send me to bed for hours, berating myself for being so wretched, so unlovable, a waste of a person. My mood could go from cheery to bleak in a very short period of time without any outside influence. But my lovely therapist has been teaching me over the past few years the difference between the old brain - the brain that gets stuck and doesn't know the difference between reality and illusion and is pretty much stuck at a young age when I was told I was wretched - and my new brain, which DOES know that all thoughts are illusion and that I am not a wretched being. Thoughts are nothing. And that I can change them in a instant. That has helped me tremendously. In meditation I am changing my reality. That's my two cents :)

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 11:01pm

Lexi, Thank you for your kind words. I find the comments by moodscopers so helpful and moving. I am glad that the new brain,old brain concept works for you. It has given me much to think about.Your two cents well help many of us.

The Gardener Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 4:36pm

I talk to my brain 'one thing at a time', I try to channel it into concentrating on the thing currently 'top of the list'. Then something happens which pushes me back into the current obsession of how to cope - now complicated by impractical town parking - we have a totally Hitler gendarme, totally unhelpful. So I 'brood' you cannot call it thinking. As fast as I find a diversion it leaps back to the current obsession. Sometimes, over-tired the thoughts tumble over each other in a scary manner - at night I have to wake up and do something like SUDUKO or I'd feel I was possessed. Who can count thoughts - could be one word 'Shopping!', or convoluted, like chess moves. The idea that you can be happier if you don't think seems bizarre - thinking is surely inevitable unless you are in a coma - moral - only think happy thoughts? Never coped with Sylvia Plath - found her depressing - another line 'I think, therefore I am' - is that right? Do you think more when you're old because there is so much in the data bank to draw on? And bear - switching off to get to sleep is really difficult - it seems the whole day's problems are ready to burst just as you 'drop off'.

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 11:07pm

Gardener, I can relate to much of what you have writen. As sual your writing has given me more to think about! DEscartes said "I think therefore I am". I think poor Sylvia knew her thoughts troubled her and amde her life a struggle so she wondered if life would be simpler or happier. Thanks so much for your reply. I also like the distinction between thinking and brooding and obsessing. How is your garden? Does that help with lessening the brooding and your worries? Hugs Leah xx

Duncan Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 5:45pm

Great post, Leah. I think 30,000 is probably too low, too.

If anyone wants to explore the 30,000 daily thought statistic, just try meditating. For me, I realize that there are multiple simultaneous streams of thought going at the same time. Thoughts are stacked and layered. Some are limbic system thoughts (is that wind chime a predator)? Others are endless songs and lyrics (apparently I have a Pandora account in my brain.) Then there are the conscious waking thoughts (daydreaming and wandering down thought rabbit-holes.) And then there are sensory signals (my butt is falling asleep sitting in this position.) There are also negative self-talk thoughts (I should be meditating better, paying attention to my breath, even though paying attention to my breath is very distracting and doesn't work for me.) On difficult days, I even get old 80's and 90's TV advertising jingles. Damn Madison Avenue!

After 20-30 minutes of noticing these many layers of thoughts and returning to a mantra, things start to quiet down a little. The volume on the wind chime, the songs and the jingles goes from 11 to 2. I can catch my daydream midstream and return to the single word mantra. I accept the discomfort of keeping still despite 225 pounds of muscle, fat, nerves, skin and bones wanting to wiggle about, acknowledge it, and return to the mantra. And screw the breath thing. It doesn't work for me, so I pay attention to my one word mantra and let the breath take care of itself.

When I finally manage to apply the brakes to so many simultaneous messages, I am amazed at how the silence (or at least the muffled roaring) sounds inside there. It's peaceful. Oh, and merely writing "apply the brakes" caused me to think of the song "Draw Your Brakes" on the soundtrack to the movie "The Harder They Come" and now the infectious beat is playing in a little loop inside my head!

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 11:11pm

Duncan, What a fascintaing comment full of so many thoughts and ideas. I like the image of a 'pandora account' in your brain and the layering of your thoughts. The process you go through to meditate is so detailed and interesting. It has given us an insight how it is different fro everyone and we need to work out a way that suits us.Thanks Duncan

Nicco Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 6:06pm

I was really interested to read today's entry because I've just started a course of CBT on how to deal with worry, anxiety and negative thoughts. Today's lesson was as follows: Anxiety causes us to worry. Worry, according to CBT, is a behaviour which causes us to withdraw, procrastinate, ruminate, causing more anxiety, leading to physical symptoms of increased heart rate, headaches, etc. which leads to more anxiety. The way to break the cycle is to interrupt the behaviour. Thoughts are like bubbles from a broken bubble-making machine. We can either choose to keep trying to pop the bubbles (every time you pop one - deal with one thought - another one comes along) or we can fix the button on the machine. The way we do this (interrupt the behaviour and fix the button on the broken machine) is to have 3 x 5min worry-free zones per day by using mindfulness. Eg, it could be while you're brushing your teeth - focus the mind and all the senses on what is happening in the moment, ie, what does the brush feel like on the gums, what does the toothpaste taste like, if it's an electric brush then what does it sound like, is there any smell? Then widen it by maybe hearing birds outside the window, feeling breeze coming in on skin, etc., etc. Also, to think of worry as a nagging child to whom we say, "I will get to you in 5mins" (a child is likely to give us some peace if they know we will return to them a few mins). Keeping a Worry Diary is a help... 5 columns on a page, each headed: Date/Time, Situation (where you are, what you are doing, what is going on around you), The Worry, How anxious do you feel I feel on a scale of 0-10 (0=not anxious & 10=the most anxious I've ever been), and the last column is Classify the worry - is it 'practical' or 'hypothetical' so this column is divided into two (P / H). Classifying can be challenging but the 'Worry Tree' is a help - it's just a flow chart in the shape of a fir tree which says 'NOTICE the Worry' at the top, then ASK 'Can I do something about it?' If 'no', then let the worry go and bring the mind back to the present by using the mindfulness technique. If 'yes', then Action Plan & Problem Solve - either NOW by taking action and then letting the worry go, or LATER by scheduling a time to take action. Sounds complicated and lengthy but I'm told the more it's practiced it will become second nature. Hypothetical worries, I'm told, are often 'what if' worries. Some worries are hard to categorise, eg, I have a 91yr old father and I worry what will happen if/when he dies. To me, it's both practical & hypothetical. Thinking about it means I can form a plan of action but I worry I won't be strong enough to carry out all I have to do. It's not good to be thinking about it every day and, tbh, I don't know how I'll react or what will happen until it happens, and I have no control over how or when it may happen. So the idea is to get a bit of control back - I control the worry instead of it controlling me and taking up a lot of my time an energy. Anyway, I just thought I'd share my session today in case it may be of help or in case anyone is having the same sort of CBT treatment. I'm going to give it my best shot. (Ps: I don't comment on the blog often - sorry this is lengthy!)

Leah Fri, Jul 22nd 2016 @ 11:22pm

Nicco Thanks so much for your detailed and most practical reply. I can feel your enthusiasm in your words. Please dont apologise for the length as it is so interesting and I hope you will reply more often and write a blog if you want to about your experiences. I will consider the worry tree and the worry diary but sometimes I find writing things down makes me worry more. I do see there is a plan and I may give it a go. I will need to reread your post a few times to gain more insight into the process.Thanks for sahring your session I am sure many will find this useful as I have.

Duma Sat, Jul 23rd 2016 @ 8:34am

Hi Leah. Just wanted to vindicate - I have never thought in words. Too slow. I'm a pure manic (unipolar hypomania) and I am immune to depression. I never cried, even as a baby. My mother had to take me to the doctor aged about 18 months and the doc, concerned about my eyes asked "How often does he cry". My mother, perplexed, said "Never."

So I think your quote is on the money.

Cheers, Duma. X

Duma Sat, Jul 23rd 2016 @ 8:45am

My moodscope average is 96.6%. btw

Leah Sat, Jul 23rd 2016 @ 10:46am

Duma, I have often wondered what having pure mania would be like. If I was manic all the time I would [robably not be here any more as I would one day take one risk too many. A baby that never cried- amazing. I would like to find out more about your 'condition' think it would make an interesting blog. Thanks for replying I am fascinated.

Leah Sat, Jul 23rd 2016 @ 10:48am

Duma, what would your lowest score be. I am confused are you happy all the time or manic all the time? What does being manic mean to you??

Duma Sat, Jul 23rd 2016 @ 3:16pm

Sorry for the double reply, cat on keyboard issues. After each bout of psychosis, I return to 'normal', but retain the speed of thought. I have had 9 or 10 major episodes, depending on whether or not you count the 'pre-shock' that got me thrown out of Med School. I would consider a blog, I am an essayist...

Leah Mon, Jul 25th 2016 @ 2:53am

Duma, I can relate to the speed of thought. I am on medication but people complain I talk and think too fast!!

Duma Sat, Jul 23rd 2016 @ 3:12pm

49%, I thought my father was dying of a heart attack.

Duma Sat, Jul 23rd 2016 @ 3:12pm

49%, I thought my father was dying of a heart attack.

Duma Sat, Jul 23rd 2016 @ 3:22pm

... i have other negative emotions, I get upset, irritated, etc.I'm happy most of the time, I'm just never depressed, or even that sad. There is one problem - I'm kind of oblivious as to when I'm being depressing, bit of a empathic blind spot. Plus, if I speak at my normal rate of thought, I totally exhaust people.

Leah Mon, Jul 25th 2016 @ 2:55am

Duma, thanks for explaining this. I have been told I exhaust people.

Duma Sat, Jul 23rd 2016 @ 3:28pm

As to what I think mania means and why it hasn't been selected out of the population. Well, I'll save that for the blog, if you don't mind.

Leah Mon, Jul 25th 2016 @ 2:56am

I look forward to that blog.

Jul Sun, Jul 24th 2016 @ 12:33pm

Hi Leah. A late reply to your wonderful blog. I have decided that if my brain wants me to think, I will let it. Occasionally i do say to myself "STOP" and listen to external sounds but not for long as my mind wanders off again. This is just me. It keeps me awake and makes me anxious or I am already anxious so over/thinking is a product of this. However I have decided to let my thoughts just flow rather than try tactics to stop them as I think this could be dangerous and unnatural. I was interested in your statistics. Love Jul xx

Leah Mon, Jul 25th 2016 @ 2:58am

Hi Jul, Thanks for your reply. So much to think about!

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