Caught In The Web Of Other People's Thoughts

Have you ever felt like you were in a loud, crowded room so absorbed in what everyone else was saying you can barely hear yourself think…...only to look up and realize there is no one else around? It sounds crazy when you think about it like that, but we all do this. That’s right, most of us carry around an entire party full of people inside our own minds chirping away about what we should do, how we should act, what we should say, if Brad will think this shirt looks stupid or if Brittany will like this post.

It may not come across at first as someone else’s voice because these invisible whispers sure sound like “us” - in that familiar tone that bounces around our headspace all day. The same annoying tone that is unnecessarily narrating in the background of your life like a 90s movie trailer……. “the sun is shining outside” - obviously it’s shining, I’m seeing it, let me experience it fully without repeating back to me every single thing that’s going on. That is a whole topic within itself, but yeah, that familiar tone.

The thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and judgements of others sneak in and can get so mixed up inside with our internal dialog that we lose touch with what our authentic voice sounds like and what is a projection of someone else. If these go unchecked by our conscious mind we are unwilling inviting them into our home. After awhile this habit becomes so familiar that it’s hard to separate these outside influences as something other than our unique selves. They slowly begin to take up a comfortable residence in our mind and start making executive decisions that structure our choices and behaviors in the world.  

The truth of the matter is, a majority of us have the burning desire to not give a shit what other people think. So why do we do this? Why are we so quick to take hold of the judgements of others, often abandoning our inner guidance to the wayside? It may be on a subconscious level but I know we can all feel it deep down in some way, shape, or form. This is largely due to the fact that the way we are programmed on a fundamental level is not that different from one another.  Seeking acceptance and approval has been hard wired inside of the human operating system each of us were born into. It is a primal instinct stemming back from hundreds of thousands of years ago when we lived in the wild and depended on our tribe for survival. We needed the approval of the group or we might be ditched to our lonesome and lunch for a predator. Did reading that last sentence make your nervous system react even though you are in no immediate danger (or else you would not be reading this right now)?

The problem is, our bodies are still running this outdated software, unconsciously sounding the distress alarm inside and flooding our system with a cascade of chemicals in order to activate the fight or flight response. A response that was once crucial when we needed 100% of our energy on either running as fast as we can or fighting with all the strength we’ve got. A response that 99% of the time is no longer needed in our modern landscape. But this very primitive yet highly efficient security detail is still wired in our limbic brain and its trigger can get pulled all the time in our modern society. When we get the judgy eyes from the neighbor, when we don’t get very many likes on our instagram post, or when we receive that angry email from our boss. If these false alarms slide under our conscious radar we begin to live in this fight or flight response all day everyday.

It might not be in the forefront of our awareness as we move throughout our lives but if we don’t take a second to separate from this old programming, our limbic system hijacks the controls and signals to our body that we are in danger and that this could potentially mean death. Rather than needing to run from a bear in the wild, we carry around these stress hormones left coursing through our veins into our next activity - and the one after that. After awhile this state of stress and anxiety becomes our familiar state of being. We forget to assess altogether what we are really afraid of.

We need to upgrade our human operating system. It all starts with awareness and some simple inquiry. The questions are the answers.

Thoughts, beliefs, judgements - Where do they come from? Why do I latch onto to certain ones and easily dismiss others? What purpose do they serve in my life? Are they helping or hindering me? And finally...why the F*** am I still holding onto it?

It is rare that we stop and take a moment to look at where the opinions, thoughts, and judgements of others are actually coming from. Perhaps we have all pondered it from time to time, but in the business of our daily lives it is usually the default to let the judgement of someone else slip into our minds unquestioned and unconsciously begin to take roots. Think about the last time someone passed a negative judgement about you, did you take it personally and let it affect the way you think and feel about yourself? If so, (I am going to reiterate this again) you are far from alone.

Beliefs, judgements, and opinions - what are they? They are either stemming from what someone actually told us or projections of what we assume someone else might be thinking about us in the past, present or future. Either way, all of this lives in the elusive land of thought. Thought is an energy. It has a vibration. It can be measured. The vibration of a thought has a massive effect on how we interact in the world and creates our reality as we know it. Most of us give a huge weight to other people's thoughts without questioning or digging under the surface of 1. Why we have given that particular individual power over our minds and 2. Where, how, and with whom did that individual accumulate all their thoughts and beliefs from. If we get curious and inspect this concept a little further, we might find nothing is what it appears to be under the surface.

Think about where your judgements about other people and the world were formed. Now think about all of the thoughts that have influenced you. Were they from your mom, your dad, your teacher? Were they from an ex lover that left you heartbroken for someone else? Were they from a childhood experience where someone didn’t want to play with you on the playground? We all are bombarded with an assortment of different kinds of experiences throughout our lifetime that leave imprints inside of us. If certain emotional reactions go unmetabolized they get stuck in our system and have an influence on the way we interact with ourselves and with others.

Knowing that we are all wired very similar to one another, we can imagine the array of emotional baggage that lives inside each and every person. We tend to be complicated and emotional creatures, it comes with the nature of being human. So when we step back and think about someone that may have passed a judgement your way (either in real life or a wild guess coming from the crevasses of your mind) it would be worth a curious inspection as to where it’s coming from before you invite it inside to stay. For all we know this thought form could have originated from their great uncle Chuck who never took that chance on his dream job and criticized everyone in his life that pursued their dreams out of a shadowy jealousy. Or the alcoholic great great grandfather who didn’t see the world through a clear lens and told his son he would never amount to anything. Whatever it may be, it creates an unconscious ripple effect from the past that has trickled down through generations and somehow now is landing in your lap.

We don’t need to know the details of where it came from, we just need to understand that most of the negative bullshit we hold onto is nothing more than someone else’s unrealized emotional baggage and doesn’t actually have anything to do with us.

When I started to come to grips with this in my own life, it came to me as a visual like a giant spider web I was caught up in that was limiting my ability to move in the direction I wanted to go. Each strand of sticky silk connected to a thought form of someone else that I hadn’t detached from, and that same strand attached to that particular person by someone else that they haven’t detached from - and on and on. All of us caught together in this massive web of one another’s thought forms. Most of them being undigested emotional traumas that have been unconsciously projected outward in clumsy ways. Shadowy strings of self doubt, regret, envy, or shame that have stuck to us and slowly infiltrated the way we feel about ourselves. Some of these strands become so strong and reinforced that they become our belief structures and “reality” as we know it. The web becomes like the puppet master pulling on certain strings and generating specific actions that follow in alignment with that cord.  

I unconsciously felt like I needed to be a part of the web of others thoughts in order to be liked and accepted.  As if i would fall flat on my face without these invisible strands holding me up.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The truth of the matter is that deep down people don’t actually want you tangled in their web just as much as you don’t want them in yours. And the ones that do are massively tangled in the web of someone else. We all have a deep desire to be free. To be free from all these invisible restraints that pull on our psyche. It is wasted energy. Energy we could be directing toward cultivating our inner wisdom, guidance, and creativity.  To building our dreams and becoming our most unique and authentic selves.

Awareness is power. When you are aware of something, it no longer has power over you.

Thoughts and judgements will never stop, they are a part of this universe and will come at us from all angles. In the end, it is our choice which one’s we hold onto. So discernment is everything. Take a moment to stop. The next time you experience the voices in your mind - that party of people we carry around with us -  inquire with a curiosity that is removed from any judgement or attachment. Move forward with compassion and know that nothing is as personal as it seems. You might find a voice that sounds remarkably like you.

-Kristen Murphy