The Voice of Cynicism
I find the fact that we, as humans, have an internal dialogue to be endlessly fascinating. There is no way of ever truly knowing what another person is thinking, regardless of what they choose to share with you externally, for the fragments that go vocalized contain but a mere compartment of the whole in itself.
According to a 2005 research summary conducted by the National Science Foundation on the topic of human thought, ‘it was found that the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day’, with further investigation into the results providing the finding that approximately ‘80% [of these thoughts] were negative, and 95% were exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before’. (S1)
This doesn’t surprise me, and whether that statement comes across as cynical in and of itself I guess is up for plausible contesting. However, please hear me out.
I’m by no means a psychologist but as a human, I feel that I am able to at least share my views and insight on the phenomenon of thought at a personal level.
I know that I think negatively often and it isn’t something which I am ashamed to say. I don’t state this in a way to invoke pity, but rather as a matter of fact sentence. We, speaking in terms of the vast majority collective, all think negatively, whether we want to or not. Oftentimes it’s subconscious, and before you know it numerous things have flitted across your mind without your consent. It can happen so quickly and suddenly, and it seems to differ in the way that at times these thoughts link to an emotional response but at others they pass by with little to no effect.
Casual negativity? Perhaps. Having learned how to better respond to thoughts on an internal level so as to not cause a notable impact upon your exterior self unnecessarily? Possibly so. Whatever the case may be it’s overtly polysemic.
I would like to believe those negative thoughts, likewise to emotions carrying more frequented “negative” connotations, “are there to teach us something” because that utopian response sounds nicer on the ear than the fact that our minds sometimes just feel like being cruel. There are moments when I don’t know why I bother to write and times when I question whether anything I do or be will ultimately matter in the big ever looming celestial picture at all. Now yes as animated beings it is of course somewhat intrinsic to our nature to feel bouts of existential speculation but these speculations can only ever reach so far as we can never grasp concrete answers; only ones that we formulate and conclude for ourselves.
If I were to type in two separate streams on this page the trails of split thought that I am having legitimately as they were to arise in my head then it would currently look something like this:
POSITIVE: I’m very comfortable right now. I can hear the birds starting to sing outside which is a nice accompaniment to the otherwise silent atmosphere. I’m enjoying talking about this topic. I feel like I have been well organized lately and that I have been handling the lockdown well. I have lovely people in my life.
NEGATIVE: I am really tired and wish that I was a person who could sleep better. Will anyone actually find the inclusion of these streams of thought to be of interest? Does love actually exist or is it a human construct, because I really would like to hope that it exists although I could debate it. I don’t want to let the people in my life down. How do people perceive me?
If our minds were split into tangible segments such as this then the jumble of mental dialogue that we face on a day-to-day basis might be easier to compartmentalize, but this is not the case. We are faced with everything at once, all at once. And our minds don’t stop thinking, even when we reside in the subconscious realm, as our time there is used to process the thoughts from the day.
We can’t switch off our inner critics or, if you prefer, our “inner cynics”, but we can do our best to police them. When a thought pops up and takes a hold of you, stop to look at it from a distance and ask yourself “Is this rational?”. Perhaps write it out and then try to break it down in order to discover where this pinprick has come from. Has it stemmed from something that relates to you, or is it your mind blowing a thought or feeling out of proportion? Is it something that is in your control?
Amplification is (unfortunately) relatively common, especially for the anxious and overthinkers among us, but it’s important to learn to distinguish between what is a problem and what your mind is deciding to make into a problem.
This is so much easier said than done but, as I’ll reiterate, I am by no means a psychologist. I am merely a human going through the same very real human sorts of things as you are. I feel that it’s important to talk about our minds in order to be a point of connection for the minds of others, as well as for ourselves.
So this is me. I can think indescribably positively and see endless beauty within others and the world, but I can also think negatively, question what I’m doing and wonder why I’m here. And I’m learning that this is okay.
Image: Photo by Jesse Bowser on Unsplash