UNTANGLING THE WOOL OF THOUGHTS: RELEASE SELF FROM BECOMING A SLAVE OF MIND
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Before the pandemic outbreak, I felt, at last, things are happening the way I wanted them to be. However, COVID knocked on the door of nations. With the fear of illness and death, it brought upon huge tangled thoughts from the past and future. With all the social distancing, it also invited the old wounds from memories and worries of the future, and just like wool lying on the floor in wind tangles, these wounds from memories and worries future tangles more.
I did not come across any accident. I didn't test positive with COVID. However, news running 24*7, people cribbing about being stuck inside on one hand; and on the other, the workers took up their bicycle, and with their child sitting over the shoulder, walked miles and miles to reach home hoping to find a glimpse of food and water in their walked path.
Noticing this, some helped them by giving a parcel of food and water and seeing them walk with the bare feet, worn-out slipper in the scorching sun. This immense heat was burning up the skin, the cheek, and drying the lips of these individuals, dehydrating them. Yet the zeal to protect and meet with loved ones kept them going.
And we are sitting at home, able to obtain food and water, watching Netflix, YouTube, interacting with whomever we want, on-call, or video conferencing. Life seems easy for the ones sitting inside. But that is not true. Many faces with smiles and technologies, food on their plate, and water in their cup were pierced with arrows of thoughts and worries.
Upon communicating with some of my students and hearing the stories of how strong they are, yet the situation is making them vulnerable made me think that how easy it is for us to get dragged into the whirlpool of thoughts. How easy it gets to shatter self-esteem by our own hands. And with full of confusion and chaos of thoughts we get stuck, become hopeless. The overwhelming feelings become so suffocating that we feel the world is ending. A comparison made with the situation outside worsens it by bringing guilt. The guilt of not capable enough to help oneself, is filled with a thought process that, “I have almost everything necessary but the person out there doesn’t even have anything to eat or drink”.
One of my close friend discussed the wool of her thoughts, where she constantly felt low due to a medical issue, she has which is common but she ended up relating it with many things. Here is how the wool gets more tangled. A simple situation, where she needed to see a new doctor, she very well gets in touch with many doctors yet the worry coming out of distrust kept jumping. It kept pulling the thoughts of doubt, whether things will work or not. Her guy was busy in preparation for the exam and could text back whenever he gets time. One negative thought pulled this one closer, making her feel that he had forgotten her, he is not going to pay attention, or maybe he will reject her. Another addition, she recalled telling him about the medical condition (which is common among girls) on her first date made her more anxious. The chain of thought kept tangling more and more with additional thoughts clinging with self dissonance memories. Over-thinking with a negative perception of reappraising an event which keeps occurring, again and again, adds more negativity. Eventually, leading her into the whirlpool of suffocating emotions, not understanding what was happening around.
With all this confusion, the communication which was going well ended up becoming serious and full of doubts. With a deep silence yet a sound mind the judgment of the other person also increased. And in the end, it led to a disturbance in the relationship, and in return, it caused more emotional distress to her.
There was no accident, no illness, yet the distress caused her tremendous pain to make her cry for days and feel that whomever she is communicating with, is bringing chaos into the relationship. And it all started from one thought; clinging on to the memory and future worry making her feel the illusion as reality. There was nothing wrong with others yet the sound mind which looked silent was having a whole pool of thoughts and stories.
Noticing this and crying for a few days she made a choice. A choice to let go of the fear, she realized that she was scared of being left alone. She has always been alone and away from family. Just like any child who gets a toy of a favorite candy does not want to finish it quickly, we also, have the same fear of losing something that is bringing peace and pleasure to us.
However, we forget that peace is already within. Before this fear could strike her, she already was cheerful. What made things worse was the fear chaining down the thoughts and letting the feeling overcome her making her all suffocated and hopeless.
I realized after noticing her and hearing similar stories. There are no coincidences in life. This happens to teach us or to bring the support which we need at that time and this certainly does not always happen with coziness, in fact, a lot of pain does come along to grow us. And noticing these, it felt that a tap onto the thoughts and patterns can help us stop or can help us choose whether we should react or act in the situation.
A quick way to do it is by using emotional freedom technique, tapping on the forehead, under the eye bone, chin, collar bone, and holding the wrist, letting out the breath, and saying peace. The body is the only thing that is present in the very moment. And to acknowledge or get in touch with the suffocating thought before letting it tangle more, a single tap can act as an alarm clock for the body to pay attention to this thought and notice whether it is you who is over-thinking, overanalyzing or is it okay to express and act. This gives you a pause to stay intact with the here-and-now instead of being blown away by the storm of thoughts.
Acknowledgment of the thought, the feeling, can help one perceive it properly to stop oneself from reacting towards and then regretting later on.
The acknowledgment of the inner dwelling feeling and tapping onto it also allows releasing it and not to be caged as a slave by it.
In return, it allows choosing to clinging on or to let go. That is, 'a choice to be happy or keep clinging and drown into the distress'.
This is what my friend also felt when she could tap on her thought and she chose to breathe and be how she was instead of becoming miserable. The thoughts do keep coming back. However, the intensity lowers, and it becomes easier to see what new this untangling of wool has to bring upon the surface of the psyche and to release more and help one grow, just like a flower growing, even when the path gets cemented because it wants to grow. So do we. All we need to do is tap on, and make a choice.