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Thinking out loud – about thinking…


I’ll be 49 years old this year.  If I live until June anyway.  50 used to sound so old!  🙂  There aren’t many things that I’d do differently in my life if I had the misfortune of having to do it all over again.  But there is one thing I wish I knew better, and wish I’d have known a long time ago.  It has to do with thinking.

It’s like I’ve got this voice inside of me, and the conversation between me and that voice goes on nearly all the time.  I never used to be distracted by it very much.  I am distracted by it now – I want to say to this voice, “Shut UP!”  Of course that doesn’t help but there are ways.  This voice, is never focused on what I need to focus on; and always talking about the past, or worrying about the future.

Today, right now, I’m taking a moment to quiet him.  Slowing down all the chatter until there is only quiet – then I can think clearly.  I can choose what I need to think about.  I can make decisions easily and find then the ability to move forward.

“Why is it so difficult to quiet that inner voice?  Why didn’t I learn to just shut-up before now?”

Ha!  see there?  He’s talking again!  Just as I decided to become quiet!

I suppose I’ve never been regarded as an intellectual.  (I can hear friends and family snickering…)  But even I find that the best way forward is to slow down my mind.  Slower.  slower.  s l o w e r.

Quiet.  Present right here, right now.

All around me is noise – but inside is calm and still.

This is the place to be.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 21, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Hi. It’s me again. This post is directly related to a question I was wanting to ask you! Until a few years ago, I never thought about it before, but I didn’t know that some people might not think in complete sentences. In my mind, every thing I want to think about is formulated in the same way as if I were explaining it to someone. I work through my thought process just as if I was talking to a non-responsive person. I think this is the only way I would know how to say what I would tell someone if they asked me a question. For me it is a kind of practice, otherwise I would have more difficulty speaking English than I do now. How about you? If you want to think about something, do you have to do it this way, or can you think more abstractly? I can feel without language, but I always think with language. I suppose it’s a waste of time since I already agree with myself on most things. I don’t know how to stop thinking. Is it really possible? Is it just a matter of training? I think it would help with language acquisition if I could stop thinking in English. What do you think?

    • February 22, 2010 at 1:07 am

      Hi Keith,

      This is a very interesting topic and one that has been argued about by linguists frequently. It seems there are some people who are conscious of only thinking through their language. They will swear that it’s the only way possible. There are others who enjoy thinking outside of language – then if they want, will look for language to express those thoughts. I find myself doing both. For example, it’s often helpful for me to get with a friend I can talk to and just verbalize things I’m thinking about. This invariably leads to new and exciting thoughts and ideas. There are other times, and I feel that it’s a deeper level of thought, where language really seems to get in the way of clear thinking. To experience this, I normally just start thinking in pictures. Metaphors are language pictures – and are effective at helping us see things in new ways, so I use pictures without language as metaphors. I take an idea, and frame it as a picture of some sort, then look for a new picture that seems to fit. An example of this sort of thing would be to picture yourself thinking that the world is flat, and then thinking about a basketball and an orange as the sun and earth. It seems easy to imagine that language would actually get in the way of this picture sort of thinking.

      The discipline aspect of this level of thought is found in meditation. Most of us never quiet our minds from the inside conversation that we’re having all the time with ourselves, so we don’t easily break away from language-level thought. Once our inner conversation is quieted, thinking about nothing – anything – everything becomes a very nice thing to experience.

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