The Thought Monster

I am going to talk about the thought monster today.

thought monsterThe thought monster seems to have a special love for buggin’ inside the minds of artistic people.

Once a week, I make the pilgrimage out to Dharma Punx  in San Francisco on a Friday night during rush hour traffic for a half hour meditation and hour lecture on mindfulness. It seems to be helping with managing the insatiable thought monster who resides in my own brain.

A few weeks ago, the guy who was speaking, Vinnie I think, was talking about the voice (thought monster) in our heads, how it doesn’t ever want to shut up. He recommended we tell it to fuck off. But not in a way that we are engaging with it. It absolutely LOVES being engaged with, is waiting for a little debate. No, just a little, “That’s nice, now shut up.” Or, “Oh, hey, you’re talking again?”

He also said that the voice tends to pop up more whenever we try to challenge our own comfort zone. The voice is there to keep us from bucking the norm. It developed for healthy reasons over years of evolution, but can be an inhibitor to moving forward and growing outside of your self-created limits if you let it keep you down. Every time you try to challenge what is familiar, safe, notice that voice? Yep. Me too.

Lately, the voice in my head is relentless, likely because I am doing things I’ve never done before with my music. I’m challenging myself and going after what I’ve always dreamed of doing, in spite of the nut gallery going, “Nur, that’s dumb. You’ll never bla bla bla.”

While I’m sitting peacefully at the library or in the practice space or in my room or driving aimlessly somewhere, it crops up. “You should just give up.” It says. “Music is too hard. The band you’re in is too challenging, you can’t do the tasks required of you. They’re going to find out you totally suck and you’re an imposter. Quit while you’re ahead. You’re almost 32, you’re practically dead. Your looks will fade soon and nobody will care, it’s all about image, not talent. Music is for the young.”

It’s all bullshit. Mostly, I act as if that voice isn’t there and continue to practice my guitar, voice and keyboard in the spaces I’ve allotted to do these things regardless of what it says. Sometimes it gets a little bit of momentum when I take a few days off from practice. “You aren’t practicing enough. You suck. You’re gonna blow it. How can you even think you can do a show coming up? You’re such a pretender. Everyone else is better than you. Remember how much you used to practice as a teenager? Where did that get you when you stopped. Nowhere. That’s where you’re headed again.”

Sometimes, I consider what it says for a moment during those times. Think about moving to the woods, living a quiet life without any challenges, without ever changing what has become rote and easy. But that thought makes me want to explode. I am not leaving this life unless I know I’ve worked as hard as I can on what I seem to be meant to do, no matter what naysayers and the anxious nail-biting thought monster in my head that don’t want me to challenge societal norms want me to do. There’s enough room in this world for me to do what I love full-time. Or die trying.


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