On Saturday Bloody Good Chap came upstairs at 1am to find me standing in the kitchen making a
mini bottle of salad dressing.
He looked at me with a laugh in his eyes and said
“I have never met anyone as uniquely yourself as you are.”
I grinned with my mini salad dressing in my hand and noted the oddness of the situation.
I do mildly odd stuff like this on a fairly regular basis now. If a spontaneous thought pops into my mind, I usually just do it rather than considering whether it’s socially appropriate.
When I learnt mindfulness I started to see that we all have weird, erratic thoughts. Mindfulness is essentially the practice of noticing your thoughts as a separate entity from ‘you’ and watching them swing around your mind like a drunk monkey. When you get good at it, you start to see how many fun, creative, spontaneous thoughts you suppress in order to fit in with the rest of society.
Now that I’m coaching, I get to see first hand that everyone else is doing the exact same thing.
We’re all just trying to fit in and cover up the fact that we really don’t know what the hell is going in.
We all look around us and see everyone else acting in a certain way, speaking in a certain way, dressing in a certain way. Most people won’t make salad dressing at 1am, because that’s not a normal 1am thing to do.
Normal 1am things include being drunk, dancing, sleeping, or having sex,
not making condiments.
When our thoughts give us an alternative idea (“why not wear your dressing gown to the supermarket today, Andrea?”), we shut them down so that people don’t think we’re weird. I’ll probably continue to shut that one down for now, to retain some credibility, but there are other random thoughts that I now welcome into my life.
When we grow up we start to copy normal people by doing normal things.
We start to base who we are on what we see around us; meanwhile shutting down any radical ideas that would make us stand out from the crowd.
Remember when your Mum let you dress yourself for the first time?
You wore ladybug wings over tie-died overalls with plastic pink heels and a transformers t-shirt, probably.
You were expressing your creative side, and you thought you looked awesome. But somewhere along the line Mum or you decided to start to dress you like other little kids, and you started to suppress your creative urges to dress like a mad person.
This is how so many of us end up a few decades into our lives wondering who on earth “we” are. We look around and see a sea of white sheep, and we’re right there in the middle of them, blending in and wondering why life has lost its colour.
We all have mad thoughts. Mad people are often just people who enact their thoughts out in reality.
That homeless guy that wanders around having a conversation with no-one, shouting, flicking from subject to subject in an erratic stream of consciousness – he’s just voicing his thoughts out loud.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone in your head before?
If you could print your thought trains out on a screen, you might be shocked to find just how similar they are to the mad rants of a homeless dude.
So who’s really mad?
The dude being honest about his thoughts, or the rest of us having the same thoughts and then pretending that we don’t?
It’s this gradual, habitual conforming to normalcy that sees our youthful creativity and flare start to dissipate.
From the age we start to worry what others think of us, we pile on layer upon grey layer of conformity, until we’re wearing so many grey coats, we can’t see or feel the colour that we once knew was in us.
We start to feel a bit numb; little things don’t bring us joy anymore and we can’t remember what we’re passionate about.
Almost all my Bloody Good Life 101 clients say they want to find more clarity and direction in their life, have a break from their over-analysing thoughts, and re-find what gets them passionate and inspired enough to leap out of bed every morning. They’re not sure who they are anymore, and they don’t know which direction to go from here. They get stuck in a hamster wheel of overthinking. It causes a whole lot of worry; a constant background indecision-anxiety, and they start to doubt themselves in their ability to be confident in their own decisions.
I used to feel exactly the same.
But when I learnt what I teach in Bloody Good Life 101, I started to see my thoughts as an entity distinct from “me”. It gave me a bit of a shock to find that most of the way I was living was based on thoughts and fears about others judging me. They were like invisible walls that were getting in the way of me creating the kind of life I wanted to live. A bloody good life- the life that I have now.
But now that I can see my thoughts as they happen, the walls are visible; I can climb over them.
So now if I have a spontaneous thought that I want to pursue (it could be as small as “fuckit, I’m going to make 1am salad dressing”; or as life altering as “I’m going to ditch my architecture degree and start my own fricken awesome business”), I watch for any subsequent thoughts that say “that’s stupid, people will think x, y and z, you’re an idiot, etc etc.” Then I thank my mind for the warning, and then do what I want anyway.
So, next time your mind has a fun, random thought that propels you to do something differently than you normally do – get really alert and notice any subsequent thoughts that pop up to tell you it’s a stupid idea. Perhaps sometimes they’re right, you shouldn’t walk to Woolworths in your dressing gown if you want to be taken seriously.
But more often than not, you’ll find your thoughts are just being
and should just get on and follow your spontaneous idea anyway.
You might surprise yourself how good it feels to stop blending in, start being less normal in your behaviour, and stop giving so much thought to what others think.
Be a norpie with me! A third normal, a third hippie, a third something else entirely!
If you want to learn how to care less about what others think; learn to watch your thoughts rather than be consumed by them, and find some direction and clarity in your life, check this out