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Why Thinking the Same Thoughts Doesn't Work

Let me know if this sounds familiar. You're stuck in a rut. You're in quite "a pickle," if you will.
Why Thinking the Same Thoughts Doesn't Work
By Jordan Brown • Issue #76 • View online
Let me know if this sounds familiar.
You’re stuck in a rut.
You’re in quite “a pickle,” if you will.
And to get out you, you think, If only I think about this more, I’m sure to find a way out.
Have you ever thought like that?
I have.
And what I learned is this: it usually does not work!
Here’s why.

Thoughts become things.
Thoughts become things.
Get Out of Your Thinking Rut
When you think the same way, you’re going to get the same thoughts you’ve already been having.
Thanks, Captain Obvious.
But this is what I mean. Common thoughts are linked to common associations. When you think common thoughts, the ones you’ve already been having, you’re just moving around on a hamster wheel of associations. The structure of the hamster wheel makes up the structure of your thoughts.
You feel like you should be making progress, but you’re actually just a hamster running in the same place. How frustrating.
The key is NOT to keep thinking the way you already have. It’s to come up with new thoughts, which lead to new associations.
New thoughts help you break free. They get you out of the rut you’re in.
This is how it works.
If I want to understand why my coworker gave me a strange look when I entered the office, it will do me no good to ask myself, over and over, “Why did she look at me that way? What did I do?”
This kind of thought loop typically leads to similar thoughts.
Thoughts like,
“Did I make her mad?”
“What am I wearing? Is this a stupid shirt?”
“What could I possibly have done?”
This is where new thoughts are helpful–thoughts that are completely different from the old, tired thoughts that are serving no purpose but to keep me down in the dirt.
Instead, it’s better to think this.
“Well, that was odd. Maybe she wasn’t looking at me. I’m sure it’s nothing. I wonder if she’s having a good morning?”
Those new thoughts are not judgmental. They’re inquisitive. As you can see “inquisitive” is a totally different mode of operation for the mind than “judgmental.”
It’s the difference between staying on a train moving down one track across the country–and hopping off and deciding to explore the community through the train is moving.
It’s a totally different way of thinking. And that’s the point.
So if you’re stuck on something, it’s totally fine. We all get stuck.
What you should not do is continue to let the train track of your mind burn deeper grooves into your brain.
Hop off. Try a different approach.
It’s only by going a different way that you can step out of the rut you’re in.
This sounds simple. It is–and it isn’t. Like anything, this takes practice. I hope you’ll practice. It’s worth it.


P.S. I used this app when it was called Pacifica. Now it’s Sanvello, but it still seems incredibly effective for changing anxious thinking. Give it a try if you’re stuck in a mental rut.
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