Thoughts are real, but not true

Sometimes I get ruminative thoughts that spin around and around in my head. I create all possible scenarios of failure and tragedy. And I believe they will come true.

Worry is a very real kind of mental suffering. I know because I come from a lineage of worriers myself. My mother used to joke that when not much was happening it was time to worry. “It is my way of making sure nothing goes wrong,” she says.

the thinker.jpg

And these thoughts can be very convincing, holding us back by making us believe they are actually true. But an incredibly liberating realization is that we don’t actually have to believe our thoughts. They are there, they keep coming, they are real. But as one of my teachers says: they are real, but not true.

So what can we do to wake ourselves from the suffering of worry and the anxiety that goes with it? Experts suggest to explore with curiosity: what am I believing right now? Once you start questioning your thoughts you can start to gain distance from them. But of course this is not a quick fix: it’s a practice. It’s a matter of questioning time and time again, on and off the cushion.