The idea of the thought machine has been with me for years. I came up with this idea when I was a stationary engineer in a commercial office building. I view the thought machine as a little control room with switches and lights. I see this the same as the control room I worked in. Outside of the room is the plant with large machines that run the comfort cooling of almost 1 million sq. ft. of office space. Inside the control room is a person who works the control boards and checks the systems.
This is the main control room. There are printouts and readings and lights flashing and charts. There is everything here that one would imagine a control room would look like. However, rather than switching machines and adjusting temperatures, the thought machine has different volume switches and faders that select what we hear and what we choose to listen to.
Now that we have started our talks about motivation, I think this would be a good place to talk about our fears and our distractions. Our thought machine stores these things and keeps them in different compartments. Perhaps now is a good time to empty these bins and let go of the unwanted materials that keep us from reaching a better level of awareness.
It’s time to put everything into perspective, why people shine and why people fade. I think this is the right place for this chapter. This is where we talk about fear and our doubts, what holds us back, what sets us apart and what distracts us from being our best.
And what is it anyway? What is motivation?
What does this mean?
Where does this come from and how do you find it? Better yet, what do you do if you find it? And how do you keep it?
I have seen people on their first day of employment. I have seen them show up an hour early. They created a route for themselves. They narrowed down the best possible commute, They woke up extra early, set their pace, then like a shot from a starter’s pistol they were off.
“This is me,” they say and off they go.
Stop for a minute. Turn it off.
Turn off the noise around you. Shut down, just for a second. I’d like to take you someplace with me. I want to show you a quick glimpse from my point of view, which I hope translates clearly to you. I want to share this now, right here, because this is a good time to check in with our hopes and dreams. This is a good time to see where we stand and why. What keeps us stuck and what sets us free.
Worst are the assumptions. The irrational ones. Worst are the ideas and the thoughts that something is about to go wrong or that someone is against you. This keeps us from the moment. But more, this keeps us from being our best. We have our guard up. We don’t want to be sucker punched by fate so we prepare for the pain.
Worst are the ideas that trigger the dominos and next are the assumptions and the judgments. Meanwhile, none of this is real. It’s only real in our mind.
It is morning, mid-week and the temperature outside is in the single digits. As I write to you, the sky is mainly clear. The wind is mostly calm with a mild gust. It is cold and peaceful. I went out to start my car so it will be warm when I make my morning drive.
The white snow on the ground absorbs the moonlight. I love this. This somehow brightens the land around me. I am in the mountains and approximately 30 miles north of New York City.
Behind my home are a string of mountains that weave together. They are snow covered as well and the empty trees stick out from the snowy ground like hairs from an old man’s arm. I am no stranger to this scene and by now, I suppose neither are you.
I think it is only fair to be honest and clear. . .
I was never much for daily affirmations. I never liked much of the wellness routines that I saw and as for mindfulness, the only thing that I was mindful of is that my life was not working out. I was unhappy and easily triggered. My thoughts were prewired to anxious or depressive thinking. I was quick to fight and quick to give up. Meanwhile, I was following a blueprint for a life that I had outgrown. Or, maybe the life I had was never the right plan.
Of course, this is where I struggled the most. I was always trying to adapt. I always looked to adjust myself so that I could fit. At the same time, I never knew why. I only knew that I needed this to change.
We were talking the other day about the weight of our emotions. I was telling two friends about my ideas of something I call our self-destructive response disorder. Some could say this is a model of self-harm. Some could say this is what happens with alcohol or substance abuse disorders. And me, I like to explain that this is what happens when the emotions get too thick. This is a reaction. This is what happens when life turns in ways that we struggle to understand. Thus, we respond.
It’s time to put things in a simple construct. I am not one for the wordiness of programs that teach about wellbeing, nor do I understand the often unappealing hokiness of certain methods. However, I am only a person who understands what works for me. This does not mean what worked for me is something that works for everyone. Then again, my aim in my journals and my research is to find a commonality between us. I want to figure out in the simplest, most followable terms, what works, what makes sense and what simplifies the complicated thoughts that trigger anxiety or the anticipation of impending doom.
I don’t know what age this started. Safe to say that I’ve always been me. Safe to say that I’ve always identified with some kind of concern. Perhaps not everything was always so tragic but nevertheless; for as long as I can remember, I have always connected my thinking to a concern or a worry.
I never knew why. I never understood where this came from and at best, I thought this was only me.
Who else thinks this way?
Who else worries all the time and feels like something is always lurking around the corner? Who else believed there was this impending doom, lurking and waiting for me around the corner or hiding in the dark.
So, you say that you have anxiety disorder. Is that right?
Me too . . .
Ever freak out?
Ever come to the point where the walls are closing in and nothing works?
Nothing stops. Yell if you want, but nothing helps. You can’t calm down. You can’t rest. And you can’t get out of your own skin.
I’ve been there and if you’ve read this much, then I assume you have too.