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The Distance of Thoughts

In our minds, we talk extremely fast.

It's often hard to keep up.

Because it's hard to know what might enter your head next, it's equally hard to then learn how to juggle that thing with the other things that are already renting space in your head.

I'd like to briefly make a case for writing things down.

Typing things would likely work as well, though my preference is pen and paper.

Next time you find yourself consumed by racing thoughts, try these two steps.

Step One: Write

Find a pen that works, get comfortable, grab some paper, and just start writing down whatever comes to mind.

Don't judge yourself, just write.

Ignore sentence structure, throw grammar out of the window, pretend typos don't exist, just write.

It's going to be really hard to not stop and take a pause to think about what to write next, but I assure you, if you can remove that tiny bit of judgement that might show up, it will serve you better.

The goal is to keep writing until you feel like you're finished. You'll know when that is.

For me, it's when my mind starts to feel very quiet. Like I've deleted all the email in the inbox, down to zero.

You might need to create some time around doing this because it may take you a while, depending on how fast you can write.

Once you feel like you're done, massage your hand a little, and get ready for the magic.

Step Two: Read

Sit comfortably, and start reading what you've just written.

Look for patterns. These may be themes, or even repeated words.

Again, don't judge, just observe.

Just by doing this, you may get certain insights that help clarify what was once a blur of racing thoughts, into a few distinct important ones.

If after the reading phase, you feel like you want to repeat the process immediately, you can.

Expect the thoughts to come a bit slower during the writing phase this time.

How can this help?

Distance. It's really that simple.

If I asked you to stop reading this right now and point to where you think your thoughts are, I would be willing to bet that many of you would point to your head.

If you measure the distance from that to your eyes, it's pretty close, right?

That's the problem. You're too close to your thoughts.

Now if you write them down, and I ask you to do the very same thing ... point to where your thoughts are ... if you're playing along, you'll point to the paper in front of you.

The distance between that paper and your eyes, is further than the original distance, right?

That little change in distance, is everything.

It will allow you to examine your thoughts—hopefully as many of them as you can write down—from a distance.

Distance often brings clarity.

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