EP255: “Whose thoughts are they?” A question from a listener
Mon Jun 12 2023
The Changeable podcast
- The Changeable podcast is about breaking habits, ending anxiety, and how change really works.
The nature of thoughts and the self
- Dr. Amy Johnson received a question from a listener named Linda about the nature of thoughts and who they belong to.
- Linda recognizes that there is a witness within her that sees everything about her and watches her thoughts, but she still feels like the thoughts are hers.
- Dr. Johnson explores this question intellectually and experientially by looking at sensory information and thought as two components of experience.
- Our senses create a clear separation between ourselves and the things we perceive.
- We don't think of ourselves as being what we feel or smell, but rather as separate entities.
- Thought tends to be narrative and constantly refers back to an "I" or "me."
- This narrative has been present since childhood and is often taken as truth without question.
Inquiring into the nature of the self
- The podcast discusses the concept of the self and how it is created by our thoughts.
- The speaker encourages listeners to question their sense of self and to inquire about who they really are.
- They suggest that we should look at this experientially, rather than just intellectually.
- The speaker asks listeners to find themselves and locate where they think their sense of self resides in their body.
- They encourage listeners to examine their thoughts about themselves and ask who these thoughts are referring to.
- The speaker suggests that our sense of self is created by images, memories, sensations, words, and labels in our minds.
Unraveling the sense of self
- Thoughts can be associated with images, feelings, sensations, words or labels.
- The sense of "me" is constantly changing and thoughts are just spitting out something that feels associated with this sense of "me".
- When asking the question "what is that?", it's important to keep looking and getting curious about who the person behind the thoughts really is.
- The narrator constantly saying "I and me and mine forever" creates a sense of self as the thinker which needs to be unraveled.
- The mind is good at keeping this sense of self alive and diverting attention elsewhere.
- The content of our thinking is all about us but it's important to question who the person behind these thoughts really is.
The witness and awareness
- Thoughts cannot belong to any individual because they cannot be held onto or controlled.
- There is a witness that is bigger than the character and body, aware of thoughts and everything else.
- It's worth being curious about whether there is something aware of the witness.
- The witness is aware of the Linda character and her thoughts.
- The witness is a complex concept with layers upon layers of story and belief.
- Thought is narrative and talks in "I, me, my" language, making it feel personal.
Overcoming anxiety and unwanted habits
- The Little School of Big Change self-study course helps overcome anxiety and unwanted habits without relying on willpower.