Not All Thoughts Tell Truth
How do we distinguish between thoughts that tell the truth and thoughts that don’t?
Almost noon: I was returning home by bus. It was a ~8 hours Nepali journey. 4 hrs gone. I had called home in the morning but my mother had neither answered nor called-back.
It was then that I received a text. Nothing special — just a normal hello text. From my cousin. But it was enough to set the anxiety alarm on:
Call not received + Abrupt text = There must have been some accident at home.
Some tragedy must have occurred at home which they do not want to let me know while I am on my way. They don’t want me to panic on my way home!
For an hour I couldn’t think of anything else as I was thought-bombarded by multiple ‘wrongs’ that could have occurred at home. To x, to y, to z! All seemed valid. All seemed reasonable. All seemed possible. All seemed real.
I couldn’t dare to call, nor text back. I began preparing myself for whatever tragedy may have occurred. I told myself to be strong. Calm. I even imagined the way things would be x years on!
An hour later:
I received a call from home. I asked if everything was alright. I was informed it was. But something didn’t feel right. They were hiding something from me. There has been a tragedy! Surely. They just don’t want me to panic on my way home!
Four hours later:
I was back home. Everyone was fine. No tragedy. No accidents. Nothing. Even if there had been anything wrong, nothing of the magnitude of what I had imagined!
(So much for intuition)
As I sat in the sofa, looking at the faces of my family members, a thought appeared within — observing the workings of thoughts in general:
Not all you think is true!
These types of false alarms are not new to me. In fact, having thought about it hard, I have come to realize that these kinds of ‘wrong’ thoughts (or anxiety attack) have been an integral part of me. During sneaky smokings or late night home-returnings, I have had untrue thoughts. On numerous occasions, I have damaged myself or my relationships because of these very false alarms. It is only recently I have come to realize that these types of thoughts — in themselves — are wrong thoughts. Untrue thoughts. Otherwise, for a long time I have allowed myself to take them as true and have reacted likewise.
But there have also been thoughts that tell the truth:
For instance, there is a thought(s) that tells me I will only be read on Medium after I write.
But if a thought occurs 5 minutes after publishing one story, saying I will never ever be read, that may be untrue. That may be true too.
The difficulty then is to distinguish between thoughts that tell the truth and thoughts that don’t. This then becomes the difficulty of not just me but the entire human race. Collectively, we too haven’t been able to come up with a complete method to distinguish true from false. While this realization may not seem much relevant at first, it makes me at least dig into subjects that deal with such true-false thoughts-thinking. Beginning with Philosophy.
And what do I learn?
There are attempts. But there just isn’t a concrete way to distinguish something as basic as false thoughts from true thoughts.
All we are collectively doing is winnowing our way. We pick one thought and deem it true until it is proven otherwise. We then move to another. That’s the way we have been moving and that’s the way we are moving. Collectively we can afford a mistake here, a mistake there. We have made them time and again. And yet we have survived. We have evolved. We have come to science.
That is one thing I learn.
But at the end of the day, personally, I want to not-have untrue thoughts like the ones I had on the bus. I don’t have such privileges as the collective human race. Another untrue thought could spell disaster to me. And it’s not like those thoughts are crucial.
Goethe called anxiety shrewdness, but it was proven otherwise to me.
And I do not want to program myself to have true thoughts all the time. It wouldn’t be fun. Life would be too scientific. All I want to is be able to distinguish true thoughts from false. I want them to come.
Back at the bus:
After I receive the text and this thought pops up:
Call not received + Abrupt text = There must have been some accident at home,
Q: What do I do?
Validate through evidence?
Be calm and strong?