I’ve spent many years behind the wheel of one vehicle or another, maybe you have too? When I’m behind the wheel, less so when walking, I catch myself smiling at people and behaviours… or snarling… because I’ve made a snap (mindless) judgement about a person or behaviour. Why is this?
When I think deeper about those moments, I come to realise that when I smile at something it is at an intellectual judgement and conscious level less apparent; I didn’t appear to think and create much inner dialogue.
However, when I snarled, it was very clearly a result of a judgement; a conscious decision assembled in my mindless moment – and may sound (unpleasantly) something like this… “What an idiot – driving so fast” “Look at the state of that” “OMG” and “You D**k”!
Now, I consider myself a genuinely compassionate soul… so what goes wrong? I think a clue is in the earlier paragraphs – “Mindless”! When I am driving, and like much of life, this can happens (seemingly) without much conscious effort for me – (after thirty years!) yet, clearly, I am thinking at some level or I would crash before the first hundred metres travelled!
I am making decisions all the time, observing for hazards, anticipating the potentials requiring me to manoeuvre in another way or alter my speed… and that’s helpful! Yet what value is there in making judgements and negative comments in my head (or aloud) about things that have no obvious connection to me. What business is it of mine?
When we are living in a way that is without conscious thought, mindlessly and on autopilot, this is where so many negative thoughts occur. Recall how when you are brushing your teeth your mind wanders off, thinking of the past, and the future, but rarely, unless you choose, actually present and aware of the toothpaste, the bristles, the noise as you brush… the sensations that are in that moment; ‘mindfully’ using your senses to be present. Why would you?
When you choose, automaticity rules and a huge number of the seventy thousand thoughts we have each day will be negative and less than healthy. We are always making judgements; they’re conditioned responses to experiences. When those logged experiences replay – resulting from a reactive response to “what do they look like” or “I don’t like them” as a first impression, it comes from a place that may have been relevant previously, but may be less so in THAT moment.
Practising mindfulness brings many clients to peace from suffering because of negative unwelcome thoughts and ‘mind-chatter’ or ‘monkey-mind’! For more on mindfulness, this circa five thousand year old practice, drop me a line.
Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of Conscious Living by Design™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.
Bob provides bespoke counselling services to clients in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).