I've been having some sticky thoughts lately. Moving to a new state + renting out my house for the first time = lots of change. With that change comes the requisite busy-ness in my mind as my brain tries to anticipate every detail and find an answer to the uncertaintly it feels. It settles on particular thoughts that seem especially troublesome and that demand immediate attention. As I've observed the phenomenon of my brain deciding certain thoughts are more important that others, an image keeps popping up that illustrates what I see happening. And which may help you.
Imagine a birthday party decorated with lots of colorful helium balloons that are floating along the ceiling. The balloons come in different colors and various sizes. They may bob a little on the ceiling, like when air moves through the room or when someone walks by and brushes against a ribbon hanging down. Some balloons pop quickly. Some last the whole party, then eventually deflate. And some seem like they stay forever. But left alone, they just do their thing.
What if our thoughts were like balloons on a ceiling?
Like these balloons, thoughts appear and shift on their own. We don't need to do anything with them. They can hang out on the ceiling - or in our minds - for us to look at. And they say nothing about who we are.
And can we consider that thoughts get sticky when we innocently attach to them, like excited kids at a party jumping up to grab a balloon? Like kids wanting to own one of these balloons, our minds reach out to grab certain thoughts. They want to claim them. They see the red one with the silver ribbon and decide that one needs attention. We do not control this - the mind does it all on its own. It's as if we all have our own restless kids in our minds, grabbing balloons.
After the kid grabs the balloon, they wonder what to do with it. Maybe they play with it awhile or annoy others with it. Maybe the kid gets tired of the balloon and lets it go. Maybe someone grabs the one they have in their hand and uses the helium to change their voice. Anything can happen.
Isn't this just what our minds do with thoughts? They grab a thought and wrestle with it until something happens - it moves, it deflates, it pops. Sometimes the mind grabs another thought. But eventually the thought, like the balloon, shifts its shape and turns into something else. And sometimes no thoughts are grabbed at all and we have the awareness that there are many different colored balloons floating on the ceiling.
If this sounds like you, that's OK. We all have a mind that likes to grab onto a certain thought.There's no harm in that, especially when we can see what's happening. That it’s just a balloon.