September 9, 2018

Your thoughts are not you


Short thought for today, inspired by Yuval Harari’s latest book.

Harari argues that we should stop treating our thoughts as an integral part of us. That our identity is a fabrication of our internal propaganda. A story, carefully crafted to minimise discomfort and changing from time to time.

In my previous article I looked into various reasons to be moral, ranked from the most remote to the most immediate ones – starting from punishment in the afterlife and ending with the reward of not having to endure painful thoughts before you commit an immoral act.

In a very similar way, this concept closes a loop in considering the degrees of self-improvement.

At the first stage, you just act on your impulses.

At the second stage, you learn to acknowledge your thoughts.

At the third stage, you start debating with your thoughts.

At the fourth stage, you learn to curb your thoughts (neural hacks, formation of habits, motivation excercises, affirmations – take your pick).

And finally, you recognize that your thoughts are not actually a part of you.

They are reactions to the environment around your brain, both external and internal (your body). They are ways of interpreting reality, passing through the filters of existing pre-conceptions, habits and feelings. But they are NOT you talking.

Thoughts are like microbial colonies growing in the Petri dish of your brain.


You let the germs of a thought in, and then they grow inside your mind.

This concept makes it a lot easier to deal with harmful thoughts. After all, you are the gatekeeper to your brain. Once you shut the germs out, you won’t have the harmful thoughts developing.

That’s exactly what meditation is – shutting the access to your brain down for a while.

So, next time you want to get angry at someone, don’t supress the anger or reason with it. Just don’t let the seed of anger into your brain. Problem solved!

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