It’s Been a Rather Tough Week

What drives us? Is it the desire to be better, be stronger, be greater than ever before, pulling us forwards and lighting our paths as we strive ahead; or is it the overwhelming fear of failure that pushes, not pulls, us in a similar direction only because we’re too worried that—like a shark—going backwards would be as good as our doom? In this moment, I feel no greater than the title of my blog, a Boat Against the Current.  One moment, I feel myself being propelled forward; the next, i’m back where I started, beating frantically against this force that will surely drag me under should I stop trying.  Can I really be so narcissistic as to believe that I am alone in this? This worry and doubt of colossal proportions?  No. Others are going through hardships just as I am.  Yet, I ask again: Who am I to believe that I am alone in this?  How can I ignore that I have others surrounding me to buoy me and keep me afloat? I am not anchored to this spot, nor will I be the captain who goes down with his ship…for this ship will not be failing.  

Tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… . And then one fine morning—

And so I rest peacefully upon this notion: I am stronger today than I was yesterday; I will be stronger tomorrow than I ever was today.  I am no more a lost cause than I am alone.  In this moment, I am invincible. 

Out of Control

Wow..this is awesome. We are literally discussing what I mentioned in my last post in my Natural Psych class. Stay tuned.

And we’re back.  So today, we were learning about States of Consciousness and my professor, Will McIntosh (Social Psychologist by day, Sci-fi novelist by night), brought up an interesting point.  He opened today’s lecture by asking us to stop thinking; just turn off our brains; think….nothing. Now I’ve been through exercises like this before and, of course, it came as no surprise to me when that small, collective laughter met my ears, indicating: “I physically cannot, Professor. I cannot make myself stop thinking.”  These exercises always tend to follow the same pattern.  The professor tells us to “try something;” the whole class does it; the freshmen start laughing and talking with their neighbors, their eyes completely alight, while the upperclassmen of the class give a small smirk to show 1. I am older than these silly freshmen; I cannot be bought by your small academic tricks and 2. This is the fourth course I’ve taken in my time here where we’ve done a similar exercise already; I know what you are about to say this relates to, sir; NOW I may turn my brain off.  I am very grateful that this time, however, I did not stop paying attention. 

So Will McIntosh (I love calling him by his whole name; it makes me feel as though I’m being taught by this world-renowned and respected author, like ‘Today in Natty Psych, J.K. Rowling told us to turn our brains off; Jane Austin brought up an interesting point; Mark Twain showed us this slide that really got me thinking; etc. etc.), began the lecture by asking us to complete an impossible task. Upon receiving the request, I immediately thought about all of those times when I can’t sleep and I tell myself to shut my brain off by focusing as hard as possible upon the single image of a completely blank canvas. The irony here, I guess, is twofold: One, at this point in the lecture, I’m remembering other memories, meaning that my brain is very much on; and, two, even when I believe that I AM accurately completing the task, I’m actually not because my mind is focusing on an actual image—a white canvas.  

Will McIntosh then said, “Our thoughts are not really inside our control.  We are always engaged in an inner dialogue.  The only way to lessen this internal effect is to be MORE stimulated externally than internally.” Psychology, right?! I love it.  So then, we naturally discussed controlled and automatic thinking, which I won’t bore you with right now.  

Going back to my original question, I guess I’d have to answer that our thoughts define us, not the other way around. …..I’m not sure that this answer gives me the inner peace I was looking for though.  Maybe it’s what we DO with these thoughts that really matter. We may not be in control of our thoughts, but we sure as Heck are in control of our actions. …aren’t we?

Food for Automatic Thought

Can we say that our thoughts define us or do we actively define our thoughts? Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Admittedly, it is sometimes the thoughts that just pop automatically into the mind that really jolt you, really take hold, really make you wonder: What the heck? Where did THAT come from?  And then you can’t shake it.  Half of you wants to believe that these thoughts aren’t you and that you couldn’t HELP but think that. On the other hand, though, what made you automatically leap to THAT particular thought? Is it something situational or something innately ingrained in your being?  We’ve all had these moments and we’ve all wondered whether this brand of automatic thinking makes us bad people. I’d like to believe otherwise. I’d like to see the silver lining and believe in the human nature of it all. I’d like to say that we are not lost causes and there’s more to us than meets the mind’s eye.  My post this morning will either make complete sense or appear to be utter jumble to my readers, whomever they may be.  Either way, it’s something I’ve been pondering and I’d like to get to the bottom of it.  

Dear Future, Less-Stressed Christa,

Please remember to write about that one time you walked out of the dorm—completely by accident—in slippers, the keys to get inside dorm stopped working 1 hour later, and then you had to coach barefoot because all you had for footwear was…sopping, wet slippers. Oh and when you tell the story, mention that it was pouring rain and you met your RA finally through this experience. 

Don’t forget.

Past Christa