What you think is not what you are

“You can become what you think, but you aren’t what you think”

Dear Integral Meditators,

There is a big difference between thinking something and doing something. Mindfulness in this area helps us to navigate difficult, stressful times more successfully. The article below explores how to start practicing mindfulness around this.

In the spirit of clarity,




What you think is not what you are

The mental act of thinking about something is not the same as having done that thing. If we go through a period where we think about a lot of negative things and negative actions, the feeling inside can be as if we have actually done those things. This leads to a vicious cycle whereby:

  1. We have a negative thought, for example about doing or saying something nasty to a family member.
  2. Even though we didn’t actually do it, we feel as if we have done it (because we thought it) and so we feel guilty
  3. Because we feel guilty our self with and self esteem goes down
  4. Because we feel worthless, we become prone to all sorts of other negative thoughts, so we feel more guilty and worthless
  5. And the cycle continues

Sometimes we end up feeling so bad about ourselves because of all the things that we have thought, that we then actually do something nasty, stupid or cruel (etc..) so it becomes an actual self-fulfilling prophecy.

What you think is not what you are, or what you have done!
So the key object of mindfulness is recognize that just because you thought it doesn’t mean you did it. So we break the above cycle at stage 2. We recognize that we don’t need to feel guilty for something that we have not actually done.
This then means that our self-esteem does not take a nose dive, which in turn makes it easier for us to relax a bit and do the actual work we need to do to dismantle the cycle of negative thinking and feeling that is going on on our mind.
You can become what you think, but you aren’t what you think.

© Toby Ouvry 2020, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com

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