How to deal with your thoughts

We tend to accept our thoughts as absolute truth. But thoughts are just thoughts; they are not facts. Below you can read four tips for dealing with your thoughts in a different way. 

  1. Do what Socrates did
    The philosopher Socrates took to the streets, talking to people about their prejudices and opinions, and picked holes in their arguments. According to philosopher and mindfulness trainer Viktoria Susovits, you can also conduct a Socratic dialogue with yourself: ‘Why do I think this?’ ‘How do I know that my thoughts are true?’ This is one way to view your thoughts from a distance.
  2. Get some breathing space
    Take the time to breathe in and out slowly, to live completely in the moment. Philosopher and Zen Buddhist Jan Bor put it so aptly in ‘Filosofie Magazine’: ‘Anyone who observes or listens while they think will mostly see and hear their own thoughts. Anyone who doesn’t do this is capable of being touched by life or by another person.’
  3. Set a reminder
    According to a well-versed quote, ‘It’s not hard to be mindful. It’s hard to remember to be mindful’. Choose a reminder that works for you: a gong or bell ringing on your phone, a quote on the wall. You could also schedule a regular time to do this. Every time you drink your cup of tea, take a shower or have a bad feeling, consciously return to the here and now.
  4. Hold a focus hour
    Make a deal with yourself. For example: I’m going to concentrate on work for an hour, and won’t let anything distract me. Each time a thought or impulse materializes (Just going to check Facebook quickly, or I wonder how my ex is doing), redirect your focus back to the present moment. You will really notice how many thoughts occur to you in an hour’s time, and that it is much more productive to not allow yourself to give in to temptation.

Text Otje van der Lelij Illustration Deborah van der Schaaf