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Do you ever think about how you think?

Last night, I sat down at my mom’s puzzle table and started working on her half-completed puzzle. I realized midway through that I wasn’t even thinking about where pieces went – just picking up pieces and putting them in place. It doesn’t work all the time, but I’m astounded when it does. My mind is working without me being consciously aware of and active in it.

There are perks to the problem-solving aspects of my personality, but also pitfalls. Thinking is such an intense part of my life that I can sometimes forget to stop thinking and let my mind work on its own. It’s when I think too hard about something that I find it difficult to do. If I stop and think, how do I do this? I have no idea. Trying to plot out logically a novel is difficult – the days I’m actively “plotting” and writing at the same time, it’s a laborious, frustrating process. But the days I just get up and write, I wind up with 4,000 words in one shot, and my plot going exactly where it needs to go, without me guiding it there. The story just unfolds under my fingertips.

Sometimes I just “know” things, but can’t explain them – that this person is untrustworthy, that that writer has an agenda that conflicts with my beliefs even if it isn’t surface-apparent, that something specific is going to happen, or that this person is guilty. The odd thing about my mind is that unless I’m actively engaging it (in conversation, or concentrating hard on something) … it’s quiet. There are no viable thoughts floating around in it. I just sit down and type. I can lay down, stare at the ceiling, and not think about anything.

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Emotional attachment is something I have to do myself – it doesn’t happen naturally. I make a conscious choice to invest emotionally –or not. I remember one of my beloved friends in tears over the second season finale of Sherlock, and I asked her, “Why? You know Sherlock isn’t dead.” She attached to the emotion of John’s reaction, and identified with it while being touched by their friendship … and I hadn’t. I saw the logical conclusion (I’ve read the books, I know where this is going) and disengaged my emotional response. I can build an emotional investment over time, but it takes just that – time.

Once we understand ourselves and how we relate to the world and everything that goes on in it, it’s much easier to appreciate ourselves for who we are rather than compare ourselves negatively to the minds around us. I’m not delighted that I get easily distracted by new ideas and thoughts, but I love the fact that my instincts are so sharp. I enjoy disengaging from my environment and letting my subconscious mind do all the work. But I can also appreciate the mind of my friend – how she will remember who gave her what, and attach special memories to every single item in her room. I don’t understand it, and I can’t imagine doing it, but I love it about her.

There are pros and cons to every mind, but once we “get” why we are the way we are, it’s easier to like ourselves.