Trapped by negative thoughts

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Adi
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Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:11 am

Trapped by negative thoughts

Post by Adi » Mon Jun 30, 2014 1:33 am

Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed with negative thoughts to the point where I feel very scared, sad and helpless. This happened to me yesterday. I was cleaning my house and these thoughts kept coming into my mind. There were thoughts about house repairs that need doing and how I have procrastinated about them and now they are piling up and getting worse, about how I have never had a career and/or achieved financial success because I've struggled with a lack of ambition and motivation my entire life (I'm 45), about how I need to have a career find a way to look after myself but again feel unmotivated and clueless about how to make it happen and also how I feel like I have no particular talent or area of interest, about how much I procrastinate every day and how I'm wasting my life, about how it feels like I have no real friends but just people who I see occasionally when it suits them, about how lazy, inadequate and useless I feel depending on my partner for money, about all the things I want to do in life such as travel and renovate but I can't afford them, about how I'm getting older , running out of time and life is passing me by. I even have thoughts such as what's the point of meditation and yoga etc if at the end of the day you're still here in this place (in my head)

There are hundreds if not thousands of these kinds of self pitying thoughts in my head and sometimes it all comes to a head and I find I can't cope with it.
I tell myself at the time that these are just thoughts, they are not who I am and they will pass. Yesterday I ended up having to sit down and ball my eyes out. I wanted these thoughts out of my head and I wanted to feel positive like I am going somewhere in life and that I'm worth something and I have a purpose. It didn't seem to make much difference though. The thoughts were as loud as always and no matter how much I tried to dispute them , I would then hear other thoughts such as you know it's true, look what you're doing with your life, bla bla bla.

In the end I kind of tried to tell myself everything was ok and there was no need to worry. Then I had sex and some wine and food and forgot about it. I was going to have those things anyway but perhaps wasn't the best time.

In one way I feel that these thoughts are actually trying to guide me to make better choices and to take action because I do procrastinate the important things a lot. But on the other hand being bombarded with negative thoughts in such a way doesn't motivate me at all. It makes me want to curl up in a sobbing ball like a child and switch off completely. So it makes me feel more helpless and then I continue to avoid and procrastinate things and then the cycle continues until the next time I become overwhelmed again.
It's a very mal-adaptive and dysfunctional way of being and I am not creating the life I want to live by living in this perpetual cycle. It's like I'm stuck as a child in an adult body.

I have to say it has been decades that I have been such a negative thinker and when I look back at my history and also my parents I can see where it comes from. This is not an excuse but it's a reason and it helps me to understand why I am the way I am.
I became very interested in spirituality in my early to mid 20s because of my despair but wasn't really until a few years ago that I begun to take it more seriously.
So I meditate everyday and read lots of different things including Eckharte Tolle and I have moments where I feel like yes I get it and I'm very aware of why I have made and continue to make the choices I make in life that don't take me to where I want to be but still it feels as though I don't ever really change. It's a bit like Groundhog Day. Although some things quite clearly do change because in my 20s I was a complete mess but my style of thinking continues to be mal adaptive. I'm not sure what I'm actually asking here.

If I look at this from a tolle perspective, I suppose Its all about regret of the past and dread of the future. When I am in this state of mind I am not here and now but instead I am in some imagined dreadful future inside my head. I understand this and I breathe and bring myself back Into the present which definitely helps me to feel better but it doesn't stop me from procrastinating and failing to make the choices that I need to create the life I want. I can see that if I do not make the choices and take actions that I am truly heading towards this imagined dreadful future but the level of effort and discomfort I have to feel in order to create this future outweighs the level of discomfort and effort I have remaining stuck. And so I don't take the actions. It's very shortsighted but nevertheless it's easier to stay stuck. Having a partner who selflessly and generously takes care of my every whim financially is making me worse because it's too easy for me to just not bother. It kind of enables me like a spoilt child. I don't want it to take a crisis before I take responsibility for my own life.

I guess I'm hoping that at some point something will click inside of me and I will no longer have this inner struggle and instead I will get my arse into gear and create the life I really want. I will figure out how to be a friend so that perhaps I will in turn create the friendships I want, I will go out and find something that interests me so that I can make it my life's purpose, I will find a way to earn a living so that I feel capable and less dependent, I will stop procrastinating. I'm not sure but I know that I cannot bear the thought of my life continuing on it's current trajectory for much longer.

I need a really big change, either in the way my life is or in the way I see it. Maybe if I can change the way I see it then it will flow from there. I'm just not sure how to achieve this change of view though. It's what I'm working on but doesn't seem to happen.

Enlightened2B
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Re: Trapped by negative thoughts

Post by Enlightened2B » Mon Jun 30, 2014 2:42 am

Hey Adi,

What kind of meditation do you perform?

Adi
Posts: 14
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Re: Trapped by negative thoughts

Post by Adi » Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:08 am

Enlightened2B wrote:Hey Adi,

What kind of meditation do you perform?
Hi enlightened, sometimes I do body scan, sometimes I do following the breathe and observing the coming and going of thoughts, and feelings. I also do some chanting and some mindful yoga.

I find that I cannot do body scan without a guided audio. My mind wanders so far off of what I'm doing that it takes me forever to complete or I end up not completing it at all. Even with a guide I find it very difficult to stay focused and I also feel unsure of how to breathe into a body part etc. When the guide says bring the focus into the foot for example, I'm not sure exactly how to do this. Usually I will just try to visualise my foot and then breathing into it but it feels strange. I rarely feel any sensations in the part I'm focusing on but instead will feel a sensation somewhere else such as a jolt on my arm or a tingle in my face when I concentrating on my foot. During following the breath my mind wonders wildly onto all sorts of thoughts, plans, worries, then I just notice it and bring my focus back to the breath. I very rarely have any sense of stillness. Just a constant barrage of thoughts and anxieties but an awareness of them.
The only time I ever feel any sense of calm and stillness is after exercise for about 20 minutes.

Enlightened2B
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Re: Trapped by negative thoughts

Post by Enlightened2B » Mon Jun 30, 2014 4:06 am

So what if your mind wanders off? So, what if you can't sit still or feel a number of sensations in different parts of your body? You're merely the observer of all this activity. It doesn't matter how many thoughts and emotions that come up during meditation, nor does it matter how many sensations or even stress that arise in the body, simply allow them to be exactly as they are and just observe. Observing means allowing. Allow the unease to be there and allow the sensations and wandering mind to be there. Allow them by simply being the observer. Observe the emotions and simply allow all to be exactly as is. You mention stillness, but there is no goal with meditation to achieve any kind of stillness. When you are trying to get somewhere in meditation, it is only (and I know from experience) going to cause more mind activity. Stillness is what you already are at the core of your existence. You can't become stillness. You can't achieve stillness either.

The reason for this is that the silent witness during meditation (the observer) that allows all to be known is stillness which is awareness. Amidst, the anxiety, thoughts, worries, stress going on that you witness in your life, it is all occurring within the stillness which is you. You are not worried, nor are you stressed, nor are you anything, but worry and stress are taking place within what you already are. That's the purpose of meditation, to merely observe all that is without attachment. Sounds a LOT like you are resisting what is arising.

Adi
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Re: Trapped by negative thoughts

Post by Adi » Mon Jun 30, 2014 4:31 am

Enlightened2B wrote:So what if your mind wanders off? So, what if you can't sit still or feel a number of sensations in different parts of your body? You're merely the observer of all this activity. It doesn't matter how many thoughts and emotions that come up during meditation, nor does it matter how many sensations or even stress that arise in the body, simply allow them to be exactly as they are and just observe. Observing means allowing. Allow the unease to be there and allow the sensations and wandering mind to be there. Allow them by simply being the observer. Observe the emotions and simply allow all to be exactly as is. You mention stillness, but there is no goal with meditation to achieve any kind of stillness. When you are trying to get somewhere in meditation, it is only (and I know from experience) going to cause more mind activity. Stillness is what you already are at the core of your existence. You can't become stillness. You can't achieve stillness either.

The reason for this is that the silent witness during meditation (the observer) that allows all to be known is stillness which is awareness. Amidst, the anxiety, thoughts, worries, stress going on that you witness in your life, it is all occurring within the stillness which is you. You are not worried, nor are you stressed, nor are you anything, but worry and stress are taking place within what you already are. That's the purpose of meditation, to merely observe all that is without attachment. Sounds a LOT like you are resisting what is arising.

I don't know this so called "stillness" that you say I apparently am. I have never witnessed or seen evidence of this. To me this is just a concept that people speak of or that I've read about in a book. So therefore to me it doesn't make much sense. I understand that you are trying to explain to me how you perceive your own experience but it's a bit like trying to explain what a black hole in space is. It's a completely daunting concept that is currently beyond my experience and knowledge and something I'm unsure really exists because I've never seen one. It's all hypothetical. Perhaps you are right. Maybe I am resisting but when I am resisting I'm not aware that I'm doing so. All I know is that I'm sitting there trying to focus on my breathe and watching my mind wander.

Enlightened2B
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Re: Trapped by negative thoughts

Post by Enlightened2B » Mon Jun 30, 2014 4:56 am

Ok, here's a simpler way to put it. When you feel unease, when you feel stress and you feel worry, anxiety or any other perceived negative emotions (aka suffering), these more often than not, arise because we want the present moment to be different than it already is. That's what resisting is.

Let's say that I finish meditating and feel that something is not right. I'm not achieving what I wanted to achieve. I have too many thoughts going through my head and they're saying this, that, and that. I don't have this level of peace that meditation is supposed to bring.

This feeling arises because I feel that having all of these thoughts going on in my head....is 'not right'....aka....something should be different than it already is. I shouldn't feel this way. Yet, you have no control over which thoughts will pop up in your head nor which sensations will arise. They just do. If you can merely 'be ok' with even the feeling of 'unease' in your life, you would essentially find a lot more peace.

I know it's hard to get across from one person to another on an internet forum, based on my own experience which you have not had of course. Because you meditate, I recommend for you to read:

'Meditation, now or never' by Steve Hagen. Read this book years ago. It's really a great little book that really simplifies meditation in a way that Eckhart Tolle would appreciate it and really could help for you to 'allow' what is...... to simply be...... in an easier fashion than the way I'm explaining it. It talks about resistance as well.

Also, check out this youtube video from Eckhart Tolle. Eckhart does a great job of explaining how you are the 'space' for all that arises.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqX5IFKYFWk

Adi
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Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:11 am

Re: Trapped by negative thoughts

Post by Adi » Mon Jun 30, 2014 5:49 am

Enlightened2B wrote:Ok, here's a simpler way to put it. When you feel unease, when you feel stress and you feel worry, anxiety or any other perceived negative emotions (aka suffering), these more often than not, arise because we want the present moment to be different than it already is. That's what resisting is.

Let's say that I finish meditating and feel that something is not right. I'm not achieving what I wanted to achieve. I have too many thoughts going through my head and they're saying this, that, and that. I don't have this level of peace that meditation is supposed to bring.

This feeling arises because I feel that having all of these thoughts going on in my head....is 'not right'....aka....something should be different than it already is. I shouldn't feel this way. Yet, you have no control over which thoughts will pop up in your head nor which sensations will arise. They just do. If you can merely 'be ok' with even the feeling of 'unease' in your life, you would essentially find a lot more peace.

I know it's hard to get across from one person to another on an internet forum, based on my own experience which you have not had of course. Because you meditate, I recommend for you to read:

'Meditation, now or never' by Steve Hagen. Read this book years ago. It's really a great little book that really simplifies meditation in a way that Eckhart Tolle would appreciate it and really could help for you to 'allow' what is...... to simply be...... in an easier fashion than the way I'm explaining it. It talks about resistance as well.

Also, check out this youtube video from Eckhart Tolle. Eckhart does a great job of explaining how you are the 'space' for all that arises.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqX5IFKYFWk
I think I get what you're saying about accepting what is. I kind of thought I was doing this by telling myself that they are only thoughts and they will pass but maybe I'm not. It's very difficult to accept feelings and thoughts that tell me I'm going nowhere, that im inadequate, a failure, hopeless, purposeless and worthless though. It feels like if I accept feeling like this then I am giving up or allowing these thoughts to win. Like I'm resigning myself to failure. Are you saying this isn't the case? And that If just accept feeling this way I will feel better? How does that work? It seems counter intuitive to me. I have watched that video you suggested before and I just watched again. I understand what he is saying about being aware of the anger and being the witness. I already know that I'm not the anger. It is an energy passing through so what he is saying isn't really anything surprising to me. I dont think anyone actually thinks they are anger, or are an emotion or thought so not sure why he is presuming that in the video. Sure we can become consumed by the emotion but we dont think we are it. However this does not seem to make it any easier to cope with. Perhaps I'm not doing it correctly? I will have thoughts and feelings, They feel unpleasant and I will tell myself " these are just thoughts" and I try to observe but still I feel overwhelmed. Anyway thanks for your recommendations I will check the book.
:)

Enlightened2B
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Re: Trapped by negative thoughts

Post by Enlightened2B » Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:08 am

Adi wrote: It's very difficult to accept feelings and thoughts that tell me I'm going nowhere, that im inadequate, a failure, hopeless, purposeless and worthless though. It feels like if I accept feeling like this then I am giving up or allowing these thoughts to win. Like I'm resigning myself to failure. Are you saying this isn't the case? And that If just accept feeling this way I will feel better?


You don't have to 'fight' with your thoughts. It's not about winning or losing. Accepting a thought that is arising, is not the same as believing a thought and in turn, giving it a life of its own. You can accept that 'this is the thought that is arising right now', while at the same time, not actually believe what the thought says. Thoughts arise on their own based on our conditioning and past experiences. If it helps at all, you have NO control what-so-ever over which thoughts pop in your head. However, you DO have control, once a thought does arise, whether to give that thought its own life by believing it....or...you can choose to see that it's merely just that....a thought...and nothing more and in turn focus your attention on something more positive. If our nature is unconditional loving acceptance at its core, then fighting with a thought, is merely doing the opposite by resisting something that is arising in the moment.

Let's take a hypothetical example here and say that a thought arises and says that 'I am worthless because I don't have a job and no girl will ever go out with me'.

This is based on a slew of factors that I have come to believe over time based on identification with thinking.

I've been out of work for a long time and as a result, it's led to my deteriorating opinion of myself which has led to my downfall in dating.

Ultimately, if you look at that quote carefully, there's only one thing that is true. That is that 'I don't have a job'. However, the mind (when we identify and believe in our thoughts) alters the image of reality and now my reality has become a very negative one. On the other hand, the truth is that I don't have a job. That is the reality of this moment. When you believe your thoughts to be true, your entire reality will represent that.
I have watched that video you suggested before and I just watched again. I understand what he is saying about being aware of the anger and being the witness. I already know that I'm not the anger. It is an energy passing through so what he is saying isn't really anything surprising to me. I dont think anyone actually thinks they are anger, or are an emotion or thought so not sure why he is presuming that in the video. Sure we can become consumed by the emotion but we dont think we are it.
Of course no one believes they are the actual emotion. The point is that most people identify themselves with 'I am the one who is angry'. It becomes an identity. Yet, you are not angry. You are that which allows anger to be there. Anger arises and passes through the body and you are that, which witnesses it. There is no one to actually be angry. Just a mind and a body which you are not. You are that which illuminates it.
However this does not seem to make it any easier to cope with. Perhaps I'm not doing it correctly? I will have thoughts and feelings, They feel unpleasant and I will tell myself " these are just thoughts" and I try to observe but still I feel overwhelmed.
And it's ok if you feel overwhelmed. Just watch that thought and the feeling in itself. Nothing has to be different than it already is...even the feeling of being overwhelmed. It's perfectly fine the way it is.

This mindset has helped me DRASTICALLY when suffering from insomnia. I used to have sleep anxiety until I finally accepted that, the main cause of sleep anxiety? I was resisting the now. I was so afraid of not falling asleep because of how I would feel the next day, that I couldn't sleep! It's a train of thought that you keep believing over and over and over and it's just a vicious cycle, until I finally accepted those thoughts and accepted that....it's ok if I don't sleep. What's the worst that could happen?

Phil2
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Re: Trapped by negative thoughts

Post by Phil2 » Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:34 am

Enlightened2B wrote:So what if your mind wanders off? So, what if you can't sit still or feel a number of sensations in different parts of your body? You're merely the observer of all this activity. It doesn't matter how many thoughts and emotions that come up during meditation, nor does it matter how many sensations or even stress that arise in the body, simply allow them to be exactly as they are and just observe. Observing means allowing. Allow the unease to be there and allow the sensations and wandering mind to be there. Allow them by simply being the observer. Observe the emotions and simply allow all to be exactly as is. You mention stillness, but there is no goal with meditation to achieve any kind of stillness. When you are trying to get somewhere in meditation, it is only (and I know from experience) going to cause more mind activity. Stillness is what you already are at the core of your existence. You can't become stillness. You can't achieve stillness either.

The reason for this is that the silent witness during meditation (the observer) that allows all to be known is stillness which is awareness. Amidst, the anxiety, thoughts, worries, stress going on that you witness in your life, it is all occurring within the stillness which is you. You are not worried, nor are you stressed, nor are you anything, but worry and stress are taking place within what you already are. That's the purpose of meditation, to merely observe all that is without attachment. Sounds a LOT like you are resisting what is arising.
Excellent posting E2B and excellent advice too ...

Yes, allowing means no resistance to 'what is' ... choiceless observation ... presence ... awareness ...
"What irritates us about others is an opportunity to learn on ourselves"
(Carl Jung)

Phil2
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Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2013 3:24 pm

Re: Trapped by negative thoughts

Post by Phil2 » Mon Jun 30, 2014 8:42 am

Adi wrote:
I don't know this so called "stillness" that you say I apparently am. I have never witnessed or seen evidence of this. To me this is just a concept that people speak of or that I've read about in a book. So therefore to me it doesn't make much sense. I understand that you are trying to explain to me how you perceive your own experience but it's a bit like trying to explain what a black hole in space is. It's a completely daunting concept that is currently beyond my experience and knowledge and something I'm unsure really exists because I've never seen one. It's all hypothetical.
It is like saying that silence is an "hypothetical" concept ... isn't silence evident ? needing no intellectual demonstration ? Stillness is the same nature as silence ... stillness IS silence of mind ... in this silence there is no 'me' no 'you', no separation, no division, no duality ...

:?:
"What irritates us about others is an opportunity to learn on ourselves"
(Carl Jung)

Adi
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Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:11 am

Re: Trapped by negative thoughts

Post by Adi » Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:52 am

Enlightened2B wrote: The point is that most people identify themselves with 'I am the one who is angry'. It becomes an identity. Yet, you are not angry. You are that which allows anger to be there. Anger arises and passes through the body and you are that, which witnesses it. There is no one to actually be angry. Just a mind and a body which you are not. You are that which illuminates it.
Ok this is making a bit more sense but I dont understand this concept that I am not my body and mind. My body and mind is all I have ever known myself to be. I have seen no evidence that Im not these things so far but I have been chatting to kiki in another thread about this and his explanations helped me to understand it a bit but I have yet to experience such a thing so Im highly skeptical about it.

Enlightened2B
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Re: Trapped by negative thoughts

Post by Enlightened2B » Mon Jun 30, 2014 5:29 pm

Listen to what kiki says. His posts are masterful. He can explain it a whole lot better than I can. It's ok to be skeptical. Trust me. I am too very much so. Didn't mean to confuse you with the 'no body' thing, but you'll get it over time. Don't worry too much about it right now though.

Adi
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Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:11 am

Re: Trapped by negative thoughts

Post by Adi » Mon Jun 30, 2014 11:00 pm

Enlightened2B wrote:Listen to what kiki says. His posts are masterful. He can explain it a whole lot better than I can. It's ok to be skeptical. Trust me. I am too very much so. Didn't mean to confuse you with the 'no body' thing, but you'll get it over time. Don't worry too much about it right now though.
Thanks Enlightened. I appreciate your advise :)

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