Before going forward about the thought machine and how it works, I think it is important that we define what the thought machine is. We need to understand the wiring and how our machine operates.
The thought machine is our brain. Like any machine, the thought machine has switches and relays and sensors and safeties. Think about a circuit board; think about a control room with big switches and dials.
At our best, we achieve a sense of balance or stability, otherwise known as homeostasis. All the connections are made; the machine is good, The lights are bright, the air is sweet, and all’s right with the world. This is us at our best. This is us without any interruption or disturbance.
However, the thought machine is alarm sensitive. When all systems check, the current flows smoothly.
All alarms lead back to the fear switch. Whether the feeling is pain, anticipation, anger, rejection, guilt, or distress of any kind, all circuits lead back to the motherboard to trigger the fear switch. Once the fear switch hits the limit, the machine goes into overload.
Overload equals anxiety. This is when the machine goes into a panic cycle. The alarms sound, every sensory is at high alert. And us, we’re the operator inside the control room, typing away at computer keys and trying to settle the alarm.
But it’s a red alert!
Fear receptors overreact and produce too much calcium. The lactic acid levels in the blood increase while the oxygen levels decrease. Messages come from the control room and spread throughout our body.
This causes physical discomfort, which triggers more fear and higher anxiety. Often, with panic attacks, one can become physically ill to they point they swear they’re going to die.
Before we go forward, let’s discuss what anxiety is.
The answer is simple.
Anxiety is the reflection of our thinking.
Keep in mind, thoughts are not always accurate. Opinion is not fact and perception is not always true. But to us they are . . .
Consider the disclaimer on the side view mirror of a car, which states, “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.”
The reason for this warning is to decrease the driver’s misperceptions of cars that drive passed on either side of the vehicle.
Either way, regardless to fact or fiction and regardless to our perception or misperceptions, the thought machine has a strong influence over the physical body.
Take insomnia, for example.
Insomnia is a bitch!
Sleep is important.
A rested body is a healthy one.
But how do you sleep when your mind is moving a thousand miles an hour? How do you relax when you can’t stop thinking?
You lay there, you toss, you turn, and you literally think about anything and everything. Some people relive old conversations they wish they could change. Some try to re-litigate the past, which is literally impossible.
Some prepare for conversations that they had once before, long ago, just in case they ever have the conversation again.
Next thing, it’s morning.
It’s time to go and there is a day ahead that needs our attention.
But how can we get by when our body is not rested?
One would think the next day would be so tiresome that the night after, we would go home and sleep long and hard.
But no. Maybe we fall asleep.
But falling asleep and remaining asleep is not the same thing.
Anxiety affects blood flow, which makes it easier to run away or fight. But what if there’s nowhere to run and no one to fight?
Besides, it’s 3:00am an no one else is awake (but us) and the only fight we have at this hour is with us in our own head.
The body is trying to protect itself.
But from what?
Anxiety is a reflection of our thought. Therefore, regardless to whether our thoughts are fact or fiction, our heart rate picks up. Our fear receptors overreact. The oxygen levels in our blood change. And the thought machine spins out of control.
Sometimes, anxiety feels like all the nerves in our body is on high alert—it’s like expecting something terrible to happen. This is the thinking part of the anxiety problem.
The second part of anxiety is the belief in our thinking. Rather than thinking in rational terms such as plan or strategy, anxiety is fueled by the irrational mind.
The irrational mind is fueled by feeling, previous experience, emotion, and opinions, which again, are not fact or fiction—they just are what they are. Plain and simple.
We start to believe in our fears. We start to overthink. One thought becomes two, then two become four. The alarms trip and the thought machine spins further out of tilt.
The consequences are the sleeplessness. This lead to further depression which leads to behavioral dysfunctions.
I have read reports that anxiety affects the taste buds. I have seen reports that suggest people with high anxiety tend to have cold feet because the blood flow is focused on other areas of the body.
(Keep in mind, I’m not a doctor or professional or anything like that. I just like to learn about anxiety because of all things to a human being, I cannot say anything is more debilitating to the thought machine than anxiety)
One thing suggested to people that struggle with anxiety is to change your thinking.
But hmm . . . change my thinking.
Is it that simple?
What if I learned to understand more about my thoughts and how they interconnect? What if I learned more about the thought machine and the internal wiring?
Maybe if I understand more about my irrational thinking, I could learn ways to replace my thoughts with rational ideas.
It is my experience that I can change my behavior easier than my thinking; however, if my thinking does not change in the long run, my behavior relapses back to its previous setting.
Change my thinking . . .
I have heard this more times than I can imagine. I have been told to find acceptance. I was told acceptance is key.
I have been told several different rational suggestions but panic and anxiety attacks have nothing to do with rationality. Insomnia has nothing to do with rational though.
So what do we do?
I have lived with panic and anxiety attacks for most of my life (If not all.) Over the years, I have had to learn different tools to soothe me at anxious times.
I struggle to listen when someone tells me to change my thinking. I’m sure this is possible; however, I don’t like when my symptoms are belittled.
It’s easy when someone tells me, “Just do this,” but the word “Just” implies the task is simple.
No, I don’t agree.
If the word “Just” was as simple as everyone says, we would all, “Just” be happy. No one would ever have a substance abuse problem because they would “Just” stop. Insomnia would never be a problem because people would “Just” go to sleep.”
The word, “Just” is something that”Just” doesn’t work for me.
I had to learn to replace my thinking with action. I had to learn how to invest my time with things that have a redeeming quality. I learned that short-lived highs and quick rushes never work.
I learned that for me to achieve a state of balance (or peace) I have to create actions based on both long term and short term goals.
Like anyone else in the world; I want to achieve a state of homeostasis.
I want to achieve balance
Balance—to not be ruled by fear—to not be hinged upon emotion—to have the thought machine run smoothly without so much as a hiccup.