Programme: Learning to think differently

1. You are not your thoughts

Reading time: 4 minutes

Yes, it’s true - you are definitely not your thoughts! This is a very important lesson to learn if you want to learn how to think differently. Let’s explore this idea further with the help of a metaphor:

Imagine you are a bus driver. The destinations that the bus can go to are metaphors for your values, goals and dreams. Sitting next to you on the bus, though, is your greatest fear. This could be fear of failure, of rejection or of having a panic attack. What is your greatest fear? Who is sitting next to you on that bus? And what does that fear really look like? But’s not just one fear - there are more passengers sitting behind you, and they are all interfering with the choices you are trying to make. These passengers represent the thoughts in your head. One passenger might be telling you not to drive too fast and to be more cautious. Another is telling you to turn left, even though you want to go right. The other passengers on the bus keep meddling with everything you try to do; whatever you choose to do, there’s no way you can make them all happy. Does this sound familiar to you? Do you have a fear that goes with you wherever you go? Do those voices keep trying to interfere with your plans?

You could try listening to every one of the voices. But then you would end up turning left and right, going forwards and backwards and driving fast and slowly all at once - in other words, the bus would come to a complete standstill. Does this sound familiar to you? Does your brain sometimes feel paralysed? The moral of this story is this: you are the driver. There is only one steering wheel and it is in your hands. The passengers will keep making lots of noise, but even your greatest fear cannot determine your direction. Your fears can only determine your direction if you believe that they , too are a driver - but they are not. You need to put your greatest fear fimly in its place, alongside all the other passengers who are sitting behind you on the bus shouting and complaining. Only then can you successfully steer the bus to where you want to go. 

Watch this video of the bus metaphor. (duration: 4.51)


Reflect & connect

Now answer these questions and share your answers with your online psychologist and/or a friend:

- Who is sitting next to you on the bus?

- Who is sitting behind you on the bus?

- Which thoughts are in the first row of seats?

- Which thoughts are sitting a little more quietly in the second row?

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