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I Do Not Have Control Over My Thoughts [Control is an Illusion]

You do not control your thoughts.

 

Here’s an example to illustrate this.

 

Try not to think about a pink elephant.

 

It’s pretty much impossible to not picture it.

 

Don’t think about the pink elephant.

 

Don’t think about 3 pink elephants playing trumpets.

 

If you’re me, you’re thinking of Dumbo’s acid trip on champagne.

 

You don’t have direct control over your “thinking mind.”

 

This is an idea I read from a Mark Manson article I read today called Your Two Minds. It’s based on Zen teachings. They are the thinking mind and the observing mind.

 

When you stress or have depressing thoughts, that’s your thinking mind at work.

 

You don’t have full control over it

 

The control is an illusion.

The Observing Mind

The observing mind is looking at yourself from afar.

You use your observing mind to see your thinking mind. In a way, you’re seeing yourself think.

Here’s a video game analogy:

The thinking mind is playing a first person shooter like halo or call of duty.

The observing mind is playing World of Warcraft, gears of war or Diablo.

You are not in yourself, you are looking at yourself.

This is a useful tool when you’re feeling overwhelmed. It could be fear, anxiety, stress, anger etc…

Something personal…

I have this fear. It feels irrational.  When things are going good in my life, it almost feels too good to be true and I’m afraid at any moment I’m going to lose it all.

When I shared this feeling with a friend he replied…

“Control is an illusion bro.”

I did some googling and found this on Wikipedia:

“The illusion of control is the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events.”

When I read that it was like fireworks went off. Whoa.

I found an article on psychology today that illustrated a great example of how worry works:

Hold a pencil out in front you.  Let go of the pencil while worrying it will hit the floor. See if it floats.

That’s how well worrying works.