On Burnt Cookies

What makes a conversation about the nature of human experience so different than talking about the details of the human experience is that it looks to the root, the origin, the very foundation of what makes something so.

Almost all, if not all, of psychology, self-help and popular advice is focused on the content of our thinking. By contrast, learning about the principles underlying our psychological experience directs us to the moment of creation instead of the details of what is already created. 

A metaphor that I absolutely love for this is that of baking cookies. Imagine we were baking cookies and a batch didn’t turn out well. It could be for any number of reasons. Maybe they got burnt, or we accidentally used the wrong ingredients, or they taste too salty or not sweet enough; the why is not important.

If we don’t realize that we have an infinite supply of cookie dough, we’re quite naturally going to do our best to remedy the failed batch. Maybe this means covering them with icing, dipping them in milk or scraping off the burnt parts.

But once we see that we have unlimited cookie dough, and constant access to an oven, we’re free to just toss the bad batch in the trash and bake some fresh ones.

Once something is already formed, whether it’s baked cookies or thoughts, it’s really difficult to try to reform them.

It’s so much easier to allow new form to be created than to exhaust ourselves working on what has already formed. 

We do the mental equivalent of trying to scrape the burnt bits off our cookies when we try to think positive, talk ourselves out of how we’re feeling or otherwise ‘fix’ our experience.

Once thought is being brought to life by consciousness and creating our reality, it doesn’t serve us to dig around in our thinking to try to control our experience. It doesn’t help us to muck around with what has already been created and is naturally on its way out.

Once we see for ourselves how temporary that experience is, we can look towards the next batch of thinking, the fresh cookies that are going to look, smell and taste much different. 

We’re not stuck with the one batch that didn’t turn out well, thought is always being created within us, making up our reality as we go along. There’s a constant flow, like a never-ending river.

It’s so reassuring, for me at least, to know that we don’t know what we’re going to be thinking even an hour from now, let alone a week from now.

Most, if not all, of psychology and self-help are in one way or another picking up the burnt cookies and asking questions like:

“What’s wrong with this person that would make these cookies wonky?”

“What happened in their past?”

“What personality traits should they develop to prevent this from happening?” and so on.

The inside-out understanding doesn’t concern itself with what form the cookies happen to take in any given moment, because that’s just the form energy took in that given moment. It doesn’t mean anything about the person, their current life situation or their future. 

The self-correcting the mind is always working to clear away old thought and bring us new thought. Fresh cookies are always on the way. We’re never stuck eating the batch that didn’t taste good or wasn’t good for us.

So next time we’re tempted to figure out our issue, solve our problem, fix our anxiety, manage our depression or otherwise change our thinking about certain things, we can take comfort in the fact that the next batch is already in the oven and there’s infinite more batches right behind that one.

On Misunderstanding Worry

Worrying is our imagination running wild making up all kinds of possible future scenarios. These scenarios then require solutions, so we make up “solutions” to all our what ifs. We make up what could go wrong, we make up how we’ll react in the moment, and we make up what needs to be done, avoided, changed, prepared for, on and on until we’re exhausted.

We believe we’re feeling bad because of the thing we’re worrying about. We believe that thing causes us to be worried, so naturally we engage in some worrying, and eventually we feel better.

Because we eventually feel better, we tend to conclude there’s some usefulness in worrying and overthinking. 

It seems logical: something happens to us that causes our anxiety, we feel anxious about it, we use our brains to cope with it, and at some point we feel good enough to carry on with life.

Without really giving it much thought we make two mistakes: we reckon something outside of us can cause us to feel a certain way and we reckon that worrying about it can help us to feel better.

This is simply not true. Our brains have innocently made a connection between what happened before we felt better and our feeling better. We’ve been played. We’ve fallen for a trick of the mind.

We feel more settled because mental health is our default. It’s our home base. Our natural disposition.

Thoughtstorms, like real storms, pass on their own because they’re part of a larger natural order.

Our minds clear hundreds, if not thousands, of times each day. Yet we rarely notice it because we’ve never been taught that’s how it works. When we don’t know how something works, we tend not to look towards its natural workings and see what’s always there.

We live in a world of thought. Thought is so prevalent in our life that we don’t really notice it come and we don’t really notice it leave. Though it’s easy to miss there is always a natural movement – that’s just the nature of thought.

Yes, we felt better after worrying… but that good feeling was going to be felt anyway. Your mind was going to clear anyway. Your thinking was going to settle anyway. Your peace of mind was going to be felt anyway. 

That’s the default. It’s how the system works.

You are feeling better now, not because you successfully accomplished something with worry, but in spite of it.

Humans naturally experience internal weather: ups, downs, sunny, cloudy and snowstorm kind of days. It’s not tied to our external circumstances, as much as we’re tricked into believing it is.

It’s just faulty logic to think our worry paves the way for our secure, peaceful feelings. Our worry can cover up our peace of mind, but it can’t create it as a by-product. 

Our habitual worrying is based on a misunderstanding of usefulness. It’s not.

Our minds are designed to clear. We naturally bounce back from stressful, anxious or worried thinking. And that whole naturally healthy system functions a lot better the less we mess with it.