Part two of the Shattered series
There is power in our thoughts.
Sometimes, we wield this power for the benefit of ourselves and the ones we love. We think to defend, to love, to protect, to cherish.
But our thoughts are a double-edged sword. Just as strongly as they cut down obstacles, so can they cut you down.
And that sucks. Why would our minds turn against us? Why would our thoughts conspire to our detriment? Why can’t they just work well all the damned time?
Overthinking changes the landscape of our thoughts. A person isn’t just what he eats. He’s also what he thinks. And that can be deadly.
The previously green and healthy trees where birds roost and animals rest have now turned into bony and ominous husks with no life in sight. The clear stream had now dried up, cracking the riverbed.
How can a thought change how we perceive the world?
Primarily because we are what we think. We are our own biases. We are whatever we believe in. This can work for and against us.
Our mind landscapes are made up of the things we hold fast to, whether we actively want to hold on to them or not. Our thoughts stem from our fears, our previous traumas, our desires, our needs, our wants, our expectations, our feelings. There’s a variety of places that can catalyze the production and subsequent flourishment of our thoughts.
And it’s what we allow to catalyze that dictates what and how we think.
In a forest that you’ve built for yourself based on what you had experienced, each tree can serve as a nucleating point for a memory, a belief, a thought. And when you were still a child, you had no control over who planted what trees in your head.
Any abuse you’ve ever encountered as a child flips the entire landscape in on its head. Everything you experience after that will inevitably be tested and weighed against that single (or, I apologize if this is what you’ve been through, multiple) occurrence(s).
Just as in any forest, the first trees will be the tallest, biggest, and strongest of the bunch. As we grow older and continue planting trees (whether it’s us or somebody else), the entire landscape will change in accordance with the first trees.
So, does that mean that those who’ve had traumatic incidents early on in their lives will remain aligned with them for the rest of their life? No.
It’s way more complicated than that.
You can control what is yours.
Trees, like any other living being, need basic things to survive. Water, sunlight, air. In the same way, the forests in our minds require our attention, among other things.
Whenever we pay attention to a certain thought, we give it what it needs to continue thriving. The forest of our own minds knows how to prune itself and to keep the paths through it accessible. It cuts down trees that are no longer needed.
Overthinking causes you to focus on a single tree. And from there, the tree takes over and grows way bigger than it originally was. A single tree in the entire mind forest can take hold of you and control what else you think.
This is a cycle. The toxic tree that you’ve paid enough attention to now has power over you. And it’s directing you towards trees that are similar to it—trees that will make it even more powerful.
This is exactly, although in analogy, how overthinking works. Trees are planted in our mental forest. There are good and bad trees. Whenever we pay attention to the bad trees, it grows exponentially and corrupts the landscape.
However, we shouldn’t feel confined by this. We shouldn’t be caged by our bad experiences. Trees—and thoughts—are only as powerful as we allow them to be.
Sure, there will be trees that we can’t uproot because they’ve been so deeply ingrained in our psyche and in our minds. But what we can do is to figure out which thoughts we need to better thrive, and which we should keep at a minimum.
There may be trees planted beyond our control, but remember—your mind is your own, along with everything in it. And what is yours, you can control.