There are two types of thoughts involuntary, spontaneous thoughts and intentional thoughts.
An example of an intentional thought is imagination. If I would ask you to imagine a blue balloon, you would create its image in your mind by thinking about it. If I would ask you to say “blue balloon” to yourself in your mind, you would hear yourself speaking in your head without talking.
The second type of thought is involuntary thought, a thought that seems to just appear out of nowhere, but it is also heard or seen or felt just like the intentional thought of a blue balloon.
In both cases, there is a thought and the receiver, the experiencer of that thought. However, with the intentional thought, there seems to be a sense of control because the receiver is the also the creator of that thought, whereas with the involuntary thoughts there seems to be no control as they just appear out of nowhere.
People seek to control their lives by controlling events in life. That control is initiated by thinking thoughts, giving us the illusion that we control our lives with our own thoughts. So when the involuntary “unwanted” thoughts arise we continue to do exactly that, trying to control them by initiating more thoughts about what can be done to control the unwanted thoughts.
But how do you really control a spontaneous thought that provokes guilt, shame, blame, worry, fear, or any strong emotion? you can’t, and if you try, you’ll just find yourself even more emotionally involved in your thoughts.
Helping yourself by trying to relax may not be so easy to do due to the continuous stream of thoughts. When faced with this issue there are two main approaches that we can take.
The first one is to “let thoughts be”, and the second is to “ignore all thoughts” altogether. At first, it may seem that both suggestions are valid, however, when inspecting them closely I find them a bit misleading. Let’s see why.
The suggestion to “let thoughts be” could imply to you about having control over thoughts and then releasing that control. But as we just saw, this is only an illusion when facing with spontaneous thoughts over which we have no control. Therefore, if you’re used to being in control you may find yourself struggling when you try to “let thoughts be”.
The suggestion to “ignore all thoughts” could imply to you about the absence of control over thoughts. That in itself can get on your nerves since you are used think that you are in control at all times.
It seems that whatever we choose to do, we engage ourselves with more thoughts simply by reacting to thoughts. This is why I think this is important to be aware of the type of thought that is going through your mind.
As I see it, the main thing here is not to react to the involuntary thoughts by understanding that the involuntary thoughts appear without our intention, therefore, we are not to blame for thinking them nor we are responsible for them appearing. However, if we tend to agree with all of our involuntary thoughts that trigger us emotionally, we have a greater chance of falling into worry, anxiety or depression.
We are beings that exist in the now, we react to everything that is happening now, including thoughts. Spontaneous thoughts are the echoes of our past that appear in the now, not to remind us about who we are, but to give us the opportunity to react anyway we choose to them.
Why clearing thoughts is important?
– So you can see yourself, your emotional triggers, and move on.
In order to see who you are you need to free your awareness from everything including thoughts. However, apparently, it is not so easy to accomplish because most of us direct our awareness to thoughts all the time. We mainly think about the things that make us worry. We worry about the things that make us fear. We worry because we believe that some things should be a certain way, while they are not.
Awakening is getting to know yourself by finding your beliefs that place you on an emotional scale that begins from worry and ends up with fear.
I spent most of my life on autopilot reacting to beliefs that were causing me emotional pain because I didn’t know better. Instead of awakening to the involuntary thoughts that triggered my emotions, I reacted to them by intentionally creating more thoughts that triggered me further, falling deeper into the emotional rabbit hole.
If you find yourself reacting emotionally to any kind of thought, understand that – that thought is backed up by a strong conviction or belief that prevents you from being in peace.
When you notice that your body is triggered emotionally remind yourself about the involuntary and the intentional thoughts. Identify what type of thought is asking for your attention. Try not to create more unnecessary stress by thinking intentionally about consequences or seeking meaning, this will only create more worry and emotional triggers. (Read about returning triggers in the previous post)
The moment you stop reacting to thoughts, you give yourself a chance to calm down and to awaken to what you believe in, to awaken to what really triggers you. Then when you have nothing to think about, you become aware of your true self.