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Surface thinker.

ChangeMe1 posted 10/2/2019 20:56 PM

None of us are unique right? I mean obviously we are but only in as much as I'm me and you are not, but in terms of how we think, the choices we make, there's a billion have been there before us.

I've been trying to look at myself, to get underneath my own skin, and I find that I have this constant feeling that I can't trust people would like what they saw if they saw what I see. I guess that's shame?

Anyway to my point, I sometimes feel that I'm not emotional enough. That things don't seem to affect me the way I think they should, and it confuses me, because I certainly feel things, but other than embarrassment and shame they don't seem to sit for long, and something I'm starting to realise is that it's because nothing really sits for long.

I sift, I flit, my brain is constantly in motion. It's almost like the wheel of fortune game where my thought process is constantly spinning, only when it starts to slow down onto the prize selection it speeds up again.

I've labelled it surface thinking, because honestly that's the first label that came to mind. It's like something hits my brain and j go "yup, there's that" and then the wheel starts spinning again.

Now to my opening words, none of us are unique, which means some of you must have dealt with, be dealing with this as well.

So how do you dig in? I know mindfulness is mentioned a lot, but I feel like I need something more practical, something tangible I can do. Imagining my thoughts as cars on a road and letting them drive by, well in my head that just looks like a NASCAR track with too many cars.

What say you fellow Waywards? Any advice on how you slow things down and really dig in to what's going on inside?

[This message edited by ChangeMe1 at 8:59 PM, October 2nd, 2019 (Wednesday)]

LifeDestroyer posted 10/2/2019 22:47 PM

No advice because I too feel the same way. Just waiting for those wise members to speak....

DaddyDom posted 10/2/2019 23:48 PM

Just curious, but have you explored this with an IC at all?

Have you considered that maybe you have something similar to ADD/ADHD?

What I can also tell you however is that people who have experienced trauma in their lives, to the point of having PTSD, often report similar issues. They have trouble focusing for long periods of time, tend to shift moods rapidly and sometimes unpredictably, and of course, learn to "go elsewhere" and do so by boxing up the emotions and shoving them into a dark corner of the closet in our minds.

I struggle with similar issues. Yes, mindfulness does help but only if you keep up with it. I have also found that simple "thinking games" help. For example, I play the NYT crossword app every day, as well as some games that involve problem-solving, strategy, word recall and generation, and other brain games. They do help to improve focus and memory.

In my opinion, like all things, we can improve or change what we want by making a conscious effort to do so. Try practicing. Think of something that makes you emotional. Then see if you can hang on to that thought for 60 seconds. Don't get discouraged if your mind wanders and pulls you away, just keep accepting that, and go back to feeling the emotion. Over time, it may get easier to refocus, or you can try to maintain that focus for longer periods of time.

My only advice is to make sure that what you are doing is being distracted, as opposed to simply not dealing with the emotions. You may be getting overwhelmed, and if it is too much to handle, perhaps your brain shuts the emotions down in order to protect itself. If so, know that, and make choices to experience the emotions in small bites. Again, talk to an IC about all of this, because I'm not one.

I'm curious to see if others experience this same way of thinking/feeling?

LifeDestroyer posted 10/3/2019 07:09 AM

that people who have experienced trauma in their lives, to the point of having PTSD, often report similar issues. They have trouble focusing for long periods of time, tend to shift moods rapidly and sometimes unpredictably, and of course, learn to "go elsewhere" and do so by boxing up the emotions and shoving them into a dark corner of the closet in our minds.

This is true for me. As a kid, I felt like I had to what was really going on, so I had to fake my emotions. I boxed those suckers up real tight and put on a facade. That shitty coping skill stuck with me as a I got older.

leavingorbit posted 10/3/2019 08:30 AM

Mindfulness has been helpful for me. I use a meditation app and keep a gratitude journal, in addition to another ďheavierĒ journal that I work through things in. Itís definitely effort but worth keeping up on. My thoughts feel much slower and I feel better able to identify them. I realize youíre asking for more concrete things to do - do you mean mental exercises, thought processes, or literally activities?

Other things that help are focusing 100% on tasks, incorporating activities that increase focus (like we put together puzzles as a family), and trying to limit screen time. Mostly, I find itís just remaining dedicated to being aware of my thoughts and redirecting.

One thing: when I started, mindfulness seemed absolutely pointless to me (although really it was because I sucked at it and wanted it to work immediately, more instant gratification). It probably took about a solid month of daily meditation to see any appreciable difference. So I feel you on wanting something tangible/concrete. I do think that it usually takes time and consistency before tapping into the ďpresentĒ mindset.

hikingout posted 10/3/2019 09:26 AM

This is an interesting topic, and nope, I don't think what you are talking about is all that unique.

We live in a society where we are constantly turning channels, we have addicitions to our phones and will stop mid conversation to check them. We have so much data available to us as well.

I think you are actually talking about two maybe three separate concepts.

1. Some of your unfeeling is you have likely learned to numb your feelings. I was very numb surrounding the affair time and could not connect with feelings that would have made sense. Typical one: I love you but I am not in love with you. On the surface, what does that even mean? It means we have numbed something in order to do something else. To me the process of awakening some of those feelings was very painful. I found Brene Brown's Rising Strong book to be really a good one, she talks about how when we numb bad feelings we numb good ones. I think waywards in general overvalue good feelings and want to avoid bad ones.


2. You could be like my husband (and this is the one I am not sure and why I said maybe 3 things). He has this inability to understand his emotions or to rank thinks. Like, once he was having these feelings of depression and would get overwhelmed throughout the day a few moments at a time. He went and read about it and told me "I can't differentiate if during that time I am feeling sad, or anxious, or something else" He doesn't know the difference. And, when I say ranking, I will say "what was your favorite part" or "what's your favorite____". He freezes up with that, because he has two modes he likes it or he doesn't. Yet, he's sensible and very emotionally mature and he handles situations very well. He's very in control. So, I don't know if that's something that you are describing, but I thought I would throw it out there in the case it's suitable.

3. Mindfulness. I think as I said in today's society we don't have this. There are a lot of things I have done and still do to tap into this. The reason it's so important is because we can't feel joy if we are mentally in the past or present, and if that's the case it's likely that you can't feel anything else.


I would recommend reading "The Power of Now" by Eckhardt Tolle. He talks a lot about how to objectively look at your thoughts, meditation, and a lot of the topics I think you are looking for answers on. It's not a breezy read - I had to read it in segments and absorb it, but it really does help me cope in situations better and has really made me aware of what being in the moment is and trying to practice being present more consistently. I also recommend a yoga practice. I hated yoga by the way - but I found that if I just do a 15 minute video 5 or 6 days a week it brings a feeling of wellness to my mind. I practice meditation on and off, and I am not a good meditator but in the thick of the worst of my depression and shame it was exactly what I needed.


I don't know if you exercise, but I find that to be a meditation of it's own. If I am running, I have to focus on my breathing, my cadence, my direction. I can't let my mind wonder. It creates a lot of endorphins for me and it helps boost my confidence and energy. I have a hard time feeling blue on a regular running schedule. I started with a walk to run program and I think that might be something that would help you with anxiety with some of the new time you have on your hands.


I don't remember if you were one of the ones pining for your AP (you came here originally in a crop of them), but I know that you are now on your own, just out of curiosity where are you with that?

Aubrie posted 10/3/2019 10:35 AM

ChangeMe1, are you on the autism spectrum? The only reason I ask, is because what you said sounds very much like what my husband and son describe their thought processes. Your descriptiveness about the Wheel of Fortune and NASCAR track are something they do. They see things in pictures. Constantly. Your post felt like something I've heard in my own house before.

My husband would describe himself as having not normal emotions, and only breifly. While my son is one who feels very deeply. (Hence where the "spectrum" comes in. Same, but different.) They both struggle with slowing down and focusing. Their minds are too busy constantly processing. They both are Aspergers.

As far as slowing down and digging in, I couldn't begin to tell you how. I'm still trying to do that with my son.

Anyway, look it up. See if it rings a bell. Something to think about.

SeekingABetterMe posted 10/3/2019 12:27 PM

ChangeMe1 I also am not sure that I have any advice to offer, but I did want to reach out because I feel like this is similar to issues that I deal with. My BH once asked me what I thought about all day, I told him that I didnít think I had any thoughts throughout the day, it was more like white noise. I have learned since then that it was more like what you described cars on a track passing by so quickly I couldnít tell you what they even looked like, I just felt the air as they went past. I have come to believe that this is a huge problem for me. If I canít see a thought then I canít understand it, I canít understand why it is there, what caused it, how it makes me feel. I canít understand what kind of impact it is going to have on my emotional self or what kind of behaviors will follow because of it. I think it also contributes to my selfishness. If I canít examine my thinking and how it relates to me, then there is no way for me to do that and process show it relates to someone I love. I end up just doing what feels good without any understanding to whether it is what I want or whether it actually will make me happy. Not sure if that makes any sense or not...I guess I am interested in hearing what others have to say about this too.

DaddyDom posted 10/3/2019 16:59 PM

He has this inability to understand his emotions or to rank thinks. ... "I can't differentiate if during that time I am feeling sad, or anxious, or something else" He doesn't know the difference.

This really stood out for me. I know I struggle to identify emotions sometimes, other than with broad strokes. In other words, I know if an emotion is positive or negative, but past that, sometimes it is just so overwhelmingly physical in nature that I can't really pin it down.

For me, depression feels like my brain has swollen and weighs about 10lbs in my head. My thoughts become noise. I feel nauseated. My neck and shoulders and jaw tend to clench. I feel feverish and ill. My therapist keeps trying to get me to notice my physical sensations, and then tie them to emotions so that I can identify them. Maybe this will sound familiar to someone else?

After reading the responses, I'll add two things:

1) I'd like to hear from women about this. For men, I can tell you that men are taught to repress our emotions from childhood. Men aren't supposed to cry or get upset, and if we do, we are taught to process it physically, either by fighting, or running away (e.g. addiction). My therapists have told me that it is not uncommon at all for men to struggle with identifying emotions, because they never learned to in the first place.

2) The messages we get as WS's can be incredibly damaging and hurtful. The guilt, blame, shame, anger, distrust, and hurt that comes from our spouses, our families and even society in general, is overwhelming. It doesn't take long at all before all those things become noise in our heads and just turn into emotional "mud". Part of identifying our feelings involves sorting through that muck and detaching from it enough to understand it. This is not easy, at all, and I find that I often just end up feeling whatever I'm told I'm feeling. "You're just being selfish" for example. When I hear that, everything I think and feel just gloms on to that thought, and having been told what to feel, my brain gives up on thinking for itself. In some ways, it is like planting an idea (like the police planting a false memory) and then assuming ownership of it.

Zugzwang posted 10/3/2019 18:11 PM

I find that I have this constant feeling that I can't trust people would like what they saw if they saw what I see. I guess that's shame?

Personally, I don't think that is shame. Shame is feeling bad because you did something you were guilty of. It isn't the same as not liking yourself or IMO what you are describing. To me that is something more. What you are describing is not shame. It is fear. It is lacking self love, self esteem, and self respect.

ChangeMe1 posted 10/3/2019 20:07 PM

Thanks to everyone for the responses so far. I think what I find difficult is summed up in the way my wife would always say I was looking for a checklist. And I am. I am someone who looks for doable things when faced with problem. Like, if żou keep forgetting things you have said you'll do, then write them down. But there's no similar solution to how to tame racing thoughts, though now I've just said that I'm wondering if spending a few minutes eaxh day trying to "capture my thoughts" physically on paper and then consciously forcing myself
to spend some time on each one might not be a bad exercise.


Zug for me it feels like shame in as much as feeling ashamed of who you are. Shame can be driven from feeling something is wrong even if it's not I guess?

But, I think that can also be described as a lack of self love/esteem.

Zugzwang posted 10/3/2019 20:25 PM

Shame can be driven from feeling something is wrong even if it's not I guess?

I would think that is fear. Self sabotage. Hypervigilance.

ChanceAtLife35 posted 10/3/2019 20:26 PM

ChangeMe1,

I remember when i was in the 2nd grade, my teacher called my Mom and suggested i be put on ritalin. My Mom, being the over protective Mom she was cussed her out and said there is nothing wrong with her child and that was the end of that. However, i am pretty damn distracted and whether i am driving or i am at work, my brain is going a 100 miles per hour with sporadic thoughts, or looking out the window like an overly hyped dog. I have not been clinically diagnosed with PTSD, attention deficit disorders, but i guarantee you with the FOO issues(raised by 2 avoidant parents) and different types of abuses i experienced, this caused so much fear within me, i didn't trust myself or anyone else no matter how loving or caring they were. I was filled with such crippling fear and was afraid to let anyone near me. As defense coping mechanisms, I have always been surfaced and afraid to open up to anyone even myself(means of protecting myself) until now.

What helped me is being in IC, connecting with my feelings by trying to relive through memories of my past especially and sitting through those feelings and emotions and giving myself the opportunity to cry, scream, or whatever to get it out. Also, practicing honesty, gratitude, and humility helps me too.

Being on here, talking to safe people, having hobbies, journaling listening to uplifting music, self-care, excersicing too. **Being yourself** and practicing effective communication with your BS with "open feelings." Hope this helps.

Quick question? Do you know if you have any abandonment issues?

JBWD posted 10/3/2019 20:54 PM

Thatís a great first step.
Mindfulness will help with this also- Pema Chodronís ďHow to MeditateĒ gets this ball rolling and helps you approach feeling emotions without thinking: Understanding what youíre feeling but detaching enough to observe without being controlled/manipulated by emotion.

Also CBT- Starting with emotions and slowly describing and unraveling them. As you find the emotions you can begin to find where they originate and begin to counter them when theyíre misleading/deceptive. As this becomes practiced you will find yourself less reactive and more aware of what youíre thinking as opposed to feeling.

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