ozymandias271 theungrumpablegrinch hunterstheorem I’ve been practicing meditation lately…




I’ve been practicing meditation lately.  It’s really hard for me–distraction comes naturally.  But I’m slowly, slowly getting better, and it’s starting to have effects.  One thing my guide (Headspace) talks about a lot is noting–that if you’re anxious, you should just (by trying to remain, well, present and mindful) notice, say so internally, accept that it’s there, and move on.

Last night, after some drama involving my dogs, I had a lot of anxiety.  I was practically shaking while driving to rehearsal (real safe, Andrew.)  After ten minutes of this–see what I mean about being bad it?–I suddenly “noticed” it, and like a shot, the panic seemed to go away.   I’m stunned how weirdly effective this was: I need to get better at noticing (eat your heart out, Steve Sailer.)

Here’s the weirdest thing though, which I truly don’t understand: sometimes I note unpleasant thoughts–usually self-hatred, the sort of negative spiral of “you’re useless and worthless and it’ll never get better” that characterize depression for me.  I note them, I note they’re unpleasant…but instead of moving on, I–or some part of me–WANTS to focus on them.  Like, I know they’re making me unhappy and are useless, but there’s some part of my brain that has a perverse need/desire to have them.  Note that I’m specifically not describing having thoughts pop up and refuse to stop popping up, I’m describing an intense _desire_ to _keep having thoughts_ that are actively unpleasant.  Externally to my brain, I’ve noticed the same thing reading things I hate about how bad I am–Gawker posts about how I’m evil, etc. I notice that I am reading this, I hate it, it scares me, there’s nothing of value there, I should stop….but part of me desires to keep going.

What the hell is up with that? This happen to other people too?  Is there a way to note, accept, dissolve, and move on with these thoughts?

This happens to me also.

Recognizing the pattern and its outcomes and tagging it as self-destructive helps me somewhat.

This happens to me. If you find a cure, do tell me, I feel very stupid about it. 

“Self-critical thoughts.”

THINKING! Bring attention to the meditation object.

“Hm, those self critical thoughts didn’t go away – ”

THINKING! Bring attention to the meditation object.

“Err, I’m continuing to think about how my thoughts aren’t – ”

THINKING! Bring attention to the meditation object.

“I seem to want to be having these thoughts, why would that – ”

THINKING! Bring attention to the meditation object.

“What an annoying meta-cognitive – ”

THINKING! Bring attention to the meditation object.


It’s perfectly ok for those thoughts and feelings to just keep on spinning in the background, btw. You don’t need to crush or extinguish those thoughts. You’re not controlling your thoughts. You’re controlling your ATTENTION. Where you allocate your attention tells your brain what’s important. By repeatedly telling your brain that your self-criticism and the incipient meta cognitive spiral isn’t important, it gradually down-weights the valence of those thoughts until they eventually (ideally) stop happening.