Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.

Marcus Aurelius

Going back to the idea that our thoughts literally come to us from outside sources – God, gods, spirits, our ancestors, whatever. Not saying this is true or untrue, but using it as a thought experiment.

Let’s say that some malevolent source has decided to influence you and your life by putting thoughts in your head.

This is their plan to harm you. They are going to destroy you from the inside. So they whisper to you relentlessly, narrating your life and putting their spin on everything that happens around you.

They comment on your clothes, your hair, the way you walk, the way you talk. They criticize your job, your car, how much money you have, what your yard looks like. The voice tells you negative things about your spouse and kids and just everything in your life.

I’m not saying this wouldn’t be debilitating to some degree, and it would definitely be as annoying as anything could possibly be, but how would it actually harm you unless you allowed it to? What effect would it have if you simply refused to acknowledge these things having any truth to them? What would these whispers and insinuations and criticisms actually have to do with any of the things they are trying to make you unhappy about?

In general, we would not listen to a commentary on our life if we thought it came from someone else, and the scenario mentioned above isn’t that different from what it’s like to be oppressed by negative thoughts.

You can’t make your thoughts go away or stop happening, so are they really “yours”?

Maybe the problem isn’t with having thoughts or thinking about things, the ability to think is probably one of our more useful attributes.

Maybe the problem lies in believing everything we think.

Maybe the problem is that because we think in the word “I”, we believe our thoughts have some objective validity or authority in what they say or that they communicate how we feel about something.

In reality, rather than telling us how we feel about things, our thoughts shape how we feel about things.

This is why it is important to realize they don’t really have any objective authority (thoughts are really the definition of subjective perspective).

Thoughts are inherently harmless, but they can be the most dangerous thing in the world if we allow them to be.

Which thoughts we choose to believe shape our reality and tell us how we feel about our lives and the people in it.

You wouldn’t necessarily believe them if you thought they were coming from an outside entity, why do you believe them because they are inside your own head? What makes them True or accurate?

Ask yourself about the thoughts you have today, check into them and refuse to take them at face value.

How are they affecting how you see things?

How would your life be different if you didn’t believe them?