The Fog of Thought
In the past few weeks the weather has been foggy, especially in the early hours of the morning or late in the evening.
There is something mystical and intriguing about fog. It shrouds the skies with a quilt of dense air that changes the landscape in view. It feels like everything has been touched with faded watercolors. Life gets quieter.
If we all know anything about Mother Nature it’s this: she has a mind of her own. We can’t do anything about it.
Fog is a calm act of nature. On the surface, it doesn’t cause a lot of disturbance. If you’re staying indoors you may never notice it. But if you step outside, it can be quite magical, yet intimidating.
- Fog can impede our vision, especially in a moving vehicle. We might feel like we’re driving into thin air.
- We can get disoriented and lose our sense of direction. Or worse,
- We can freeze in fear of what could happen and start an inner losing battle with the weather.
All of the above can be looked at as the negative side effects of fog. And depending on the situation, all the beauty and intrigue in the world may not be enough to get us to see it differently.
The shift in focus towards the limitation caused by fog narrows our perspective. In the process of fearing, resisting, and complaining we ignore the most powerful thing we have—choice.
The fog will lift on its own terms, not ours. We do, however, have a choice on how to deal with it.
Because we’re connected to (if not part of) nature, we have a thought system that goes through cycles of fog and clarity, like the weather.
The nature of the mind
Our mind has its own nature. It’s a relentless thinking and analytical machine.
Thoughts appear out of nowhere, and depending on the situation, thoughts can overwhelm us. Just like fog, thoughts can blur our inner vision and scatter our attention.
Can we stop thinking?
I don’t think we can stop thoughts. Thoughts happen, just like passing clouds. We can, though, choose how to respond, just like we handle changes in the weather.
When faced with fog we can choose to:
Feel helpless and stuck and in this case wallow in our perceived bad luck or circumstances. Or
Fight and resist how nature takes its course, trudging through the hours and days. We whine about what we should’ve been doing, and how we’re missing out, because of overwhelm and confusion. Or
Accept our limited vision and either move with calm caution, or stay where we are without the need to argue and complain.
We can fear, argue or we can surrender and allow the fog to lift on its own terms.
Which do you think is the most helpful choice?
Dealing with the fog of thoughts
When we lack direction, and feel there are too many thoughts floating in our minds, we can use the steps below.
These steps mirror how we handle the weather. We work with the nature of the mind, not against it.
Allow the thoughts to pass through. They’ll cloud the mind for a bit, and then they will leave—if we don’t hold on to them.
The mere act of noticing a thought sometimes is more than enough to send it on its merry way.
If a thought persists, we can still choose to:
Trust and take one step in the direction that feels right at the moment. We don’t need to see the full picture and we don’t need to entertain other thoughts.
We don’t need to take a leap of faith. A tiny trusting step is all that’s needed most of the time.
Proceeding with caution with a small step is easier on the mind. We don’t have to feel more overwhelm or resistance.
This is truly where we can start making progress, as the fog of thought clears without a lot of stress or effort.
“You cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind.” ~Unknown
Keep going with minimum expectations and let the next step reveal itself to you as you continue to move.
If we keep going one tiny step at a time, the fog will lift at one point and the light of clarity will shine through.
Whether we continue in the same direction or change course doesn’t matter. What makes a difference is that we didn’t suffer needlessly and we didn’t block our own way.
“Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.” ~Carl Jung
Thoughts happen and will continue to happen as long as we’re breathing. And like the weather, we don’t need to control or change our thought patterns.
With every breath we can choose to hold on to thoughts and add to our confusion. Or we can let go and take a tiny step of faith in the direction that serves us best at the moment.