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Intrusive thoughts are only intrusive if believed to be so

31 Mar 2024

Our relationship with thoughts is what determines the level of suffering they cause.

The belief that a thought shouldn’t be there only causes discord, because the fact is that the thought is there. To argue that it shouldn’t be there is arguing with reality. See that a thought is a thought, and the suffering relaxes.

Recently a significant relationship in my life came to an end (perhaps why I’m writing so much lately) and my thoughts have drifted to this person regularly.

At the end of previous relationships, I told myself that I shouldn’t be thinking of them in order to move on. I’d try to distract myself, avoid any reminders of them, and keep myself busy.

This time, that desire to fight the thoughts is no longer there. There’s an appreciation that even though it came to an end, this person was important enough to hold so much space in my mind. Without the fight, there’s a lightness to it. There’s a sweetness to the sadness. There’s a love in the longing. There’s appreciation in the despair. There’s hopefulness in the wishing it were otherwise. Yet none of those are actually a weight unless they’re believed to be.

It’s possible to miss someone at the same time as living the rest of life. To walk around with a broken heart feels like a burden until you see that you’re actually walking around with love that you believe you shouldn’t feel. It’s only the struggle that hurts. Without the internal struggle against what’s here there’s more energy left to process it all.

The thoughts that appear in the mind are not there by choice. They’re there through experiencing the world. So the belief that we have the choice over whether a thought appears or not is a denial of that experience, and causes nothing but frustration.

We give thoughts power by believing that they represent reality, then believing that they should be other than they are. Without that belief, reality and thought can be experienced in their fullness.

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Jordan West

Sydney, Australia

jordan [at] west.io | twitter | github | youtube | instagram