Yonks ago someone said to me (without any actual, hard evidence) that only about 1% of what the average Jo/e thinks each day is original thought.
I LOVED this idea. It made me laugh out loud because it fitted so well with my own direct experience.
I suppose I would class myself as neurotypical, an ordinary Jo/e if you like (others might disagree).
But because of my job I’ve become pretty good at noticing what my own brain is up to, and I have to admit that for the most part it’s not being wildly creative or original.
It’s mostly just chattering about ‘general housekeeping’ stuff, for example what I’m going to eat next. It also offers an ongoing commentary, on the inner and outer world, and flits from past to present to future. We generally get along OK, which I’m pleased about.
This 1% idea reappeared in the days and weeks that followed, and it tickled me even more each time, because each time it came to mind again, it proved itself right, again.
It was only an original thought once, the first time I thought it, every subsequent presentation was a rehash. Funny!
It made me feel really smart and really dumb at the same time, and I liked that feeling.
Aside from this being a daft little insider joke I was enjoying with myself, there is value in this awareness that is worth sharing.
There is a (better evidenced) theory that it is the emotional charge associated with a thought that determines its frequency. After all, a thought without a feeling is just words, right?
In my case the emotional charge that went with the thought felt ‘good’. Sadly for many of my clients their repetitive thinking is charged and recharged by a ‘bad’ feeling, something they would rather avoid, not have or get rid of.
Unfortunately, the harder they try to avoid, not have or get rid of these ‘bad’ thoughts and feelings, the more frequently they occur.
Then there are thoughts about the thoughts. What do they mean? This can be a downward spiral that takes people to very dark place: ‘Am I sick in the head?’, ‘Does this mean I’m a bad person?’
What my unfortunate clients fail to recognise is that these are not original thoughts, they don’t tell them anything new or helpful, or merit the attention they are given. They are, in fact, just words.
So what to do?
‘But it’s true!’ It doesn’t matter so much if the thoughts are true or not, it matters more whether they are helpful or not.
Of course, some thoughts can be very sticky, and many people need their story to be heard before they are ready to let it go.
I’ll be happy to hear it.
Ordinary Jo/e xxx