Where Do Thoughts Come From?

(Originally published 4th May, 2007)

Where do ideas come from? When I’m writing, what part of me comes up with the words to type?

Sometimes, it feels as though there’s someone else trapped inside my brain, trying to find an opening to come out and be heard. There might be something in that, too. In her book, The Journey from Abandonment to Healing, Susan Anderson recommends giving free rein to the little voice in your head and having a whole question and answer session with it, in order to try to uncover where some of your emotional land mines are. I’ve tried it, and it does seem to work to some extent. Once you get stuff out in the open, it loses its potency.

Michael Domeyko Rowland once said that we often repress emotions and it’s like holding a beach ball underwater. It wants to float to the surface and be released, but over time, we hold it down, repressing it because we think that facing that emotion is going to be too hard or too painful. In the process, we tie up a lot of extra emotional energy and end up making ourselves sick in the process.

Are our thoughts the same thing? Do we already possess and know all the things that we need in order to get us through life and if we’d just shut up for a second and let that stuff out, we’d find that life is actually a whole lot easier than we thought?

I know that in the past I’ve had times when I’ve been able to instantly recall all sorts of knowledge at exactly the right time, and then wondered where the hell it came from. It always freaks me out a little when it happens, because it shows me that there’s more to my mind than the stuff I can consciously recall easily.

What else is trapped in our minds that we don’t let out? I’ve heard that some people believe that we never really forget anything – that, under the right circumstances – we can recall everything we’ve ever experienced. You hear of people going under hypnosis and being able to remember all sorts of details about things that they’ve forgotten completely in their normal waking world.

Are we so afraid of succeeding that we subconsciously block certain information from our conscious minds in order to fail? It seems a little weird at first, but there are times when I do think that’s precisely what we do. We downplay our own abilities and knowledge, so that we don’t have to worry about making other people jealous, or so that we don’t have to worry about what they might think of us. If we keep our mouths shut, then we won’t upset anyone and we won’t get into trouble.

Strange thing is, that sort of behaviour is remarkably self-limiting. It holds us back and strangles our creativity. It stops us from reaching our full potential in whatever it is we’re trying to do.

So friends, maybe it’s time for all of us to stop getting in our own way and to let out some of the stuff that’s welling up inside us all the time. After all, once you give your imagination its head, it can often come up with some truly magnificent ideas. If even one of those ideas improves your own life or the life of someone else, then it will have been worth the effort.