Recurring themes and SECURITY

When you have nothing in the way, where does your mind wander?

On a clear night, what stars do you see? When you have nothing to think about, what do you think about? When your head hits the pillow, what thoughts come to mind? When you hit mile seven in the run, what types of thoughts start to cloud your vision?

I find—and perhaps I am unique in this but I find that unlikely to be the case—there to be _recurring themes_ that play in my personal movie theatre (my brain). And when I clear the distractions from my plate—all the notifications and stimulation—I find my brain sometimes (in certain parts of my life OFTEN) returning to the same set of recurring themes.

The recurring themes are not necessarily damaging to me. I do not hate them. Well, I do not hate them all. They are not constant—in my life, some themes come and go. But in general, if I look back on say my adult life (which is about 10 years now since I turned 16), I imagine there is a finite set of themes that occupy my plate.

I think a lot about:

  • My sense of self (understanding who I am and what I want?)
  • My interactions with others (did I do something good or bad to others?)

These are really root prompts. They appear in different form factors. Perhaps I think about a goal I have (I want to get strong or I want to win at this particular thing). Or perhaps I think about an interaction with others (e.g. what could I have done better or differently).

But the root themes are the same. They track back to the above: sense of self and relationships with others.

Is this sort of analyzing good? Is this bad? Is this normal?

Aside, I say wow to the the meta conversation that is present RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. Who cares if it is good or bad another voice in my head echoes. It is what happens. You have topics that your brain returns to over and over (and over). Who cares good or bad? The question of WHY is perhaps more important.

Why am I returning to these thoughts? Why are they THESE thoughts in particular? And where do they come from?

Do they come from the present or the past? Perhaps the future? Let me reword—do they come from MY present or MY past? Or worry of MY future? Are the thoughts productive FOR ME? Are they healthy for ME? Should I stop them or confront them?

I realize this whole stream of consciousness sounds a bit insane—now I am projecting but yes it does sound a whole bit insane because I am analyzing the meta meta thought of thinking and what I should do with those meta thoughts. Oof.

I sometimes view these themes as mini rubix cubes that my brain is trying to solve. Over and over and over I rotate the pieces only to see the cube jumbled up at the end of the day.

Many of the themes, I believe, come from INTERNAL conflict. Internal battles my brain is grappling with. Some of these battles are decades old. Some of them come from early childhood. Some of them I perhaps do not even remember but they are SO etched into my thinking and identity that they exhibit the backdrop of my life. Like the soundtrack that is playing all the time. The score of the play. The tint of the window—driven by a moment from decades ago that I A) do not remember and B) do not control.

How does the brain do these sorts of things? How is it that traumatic memories of childhood could leak so ~randomly (perhaps not really randomly but seemingly randomly) into my inner monologue. The stories I tell myself, all told in a language CUSTOM BUILT to protect myself against the troubles of the past. What an interesting contraption the brain really is.

These themes are powerful. But what do I do with them?

Sometimes they appear as external stories. Like X person or Y event. But in reality, they trace to those root ideologies. Sense of self wavering. Insecurity about relationships with others. Fascinating. Caring about these things—as I do—says a lot about me. Not in a permanent type of way, but in a way that I think is revealing of some of my priorities and also some of my insecurities. In a way, to be blunt about, that I am not particularly proud of. I would go further—I am a bit embarrassed by this acknowledgement. Not that I am making the acknowledgement (not that I am AWARE), but rather that it exists. Why? Well, these themes feel like SUCH A WASTE and such a distraction from THE MOMENT, THE PRESENT, THE BEAUTY OF LIFE.

I am caring SO MUCH about protecting my INSECURITY that I am not enjoying the beauty of now. I am building security around my insecurity—a walled garden, a fortress with weaponry, to prevent myself from FEELING (not understanding, but FEELING) the NOW.

Much of this is unintentional and involuntary. But that does not distract the point. The places my brain goes when I am STILL AND UNDISTRACTED are not joyous. They are defensive. They are not grateful. They are not virtuous. They are reactionary.

I fight battles in my free time is what this says.

When I have NOTHING IN MY WAY, I return to building walls. I build walls around my heart because I am so so scared of LOSING MY SENSE OF SELF AND LOSING MY RELATIONSHIPS. This is weakness. Admitting weakness is not weakness. Vulnerability is not weakness. BUT PRIORITIZING YOUR WEAKNESSES and DISTRACTING THEM RATHER THAN TACKLING THEM—that is my expression of weakness.

And this weakness has led to many many other downstream problems. It has led to my approach to conversations in general with others. It has led to how I treat the people around me. It has led to how I prioritize my time.

All—let’s say most—stem from protecting this insecurity. And that…and that is NOT how I want to live.

Changes to come.


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