November 16, 2021
Letting Go of Repetitive Thoughts
Recently, I covered why hearing something for the 100th time can be a good thing – and I’ve covered the fact that humans average between 50-80k thoughts per day. This blog comes courtesy of Jack Kornfield, who quotes Buddha: “Whatever a person frequently thinks and reflects on, that will become the inclination of their mind.”
Here’s an excerpt from Jack’s blog on this topic:
Yet however much we try, sometimes we’re caught in our repetitive thoughts, and knowing about their emptiness doesn’t help. We can obsess for months about a past relationship or about our fear of failure at work. These difficult patterns of thought can repeat and persist, coloring our consciousness so deeply that we can be tormented by them, unable to see without their distortion.
If we pay attention to the feelings underneath these repeated thoughts, there is often unacknowledged or unaccepted emotions, pain or difficulty. It might be a grief or loss that we have not fully acknowledged, or worry or fear, or longing or a thwarted creative impulse. When we let ourselves drop below the thoughts and sense what is asking for acceptance, our willingness to feel these emotions that have been driving the thoughts often allows them to quiet down.
Following this we need, quite deliberately, to create positive thoughts in order to replace these unskillful patterns of mind. The understanding of these as simply unskillful states means that we can do something about them, as opposed to saying we’re neurotic and there’s no hope.