"THE RUNAWAY MIND"
By Reydon Stanford
As Detective Joe Friday from the TV show Dragnet used to say,
"Just the facts, Ma'am." If we as humans could limit our thinking to ‘just the facts,' we might find
our mental and emotional health a lot better, but our brain doesn't seem to like being limited by ‘just the facts,'
especially if we're uncertain of what the facts are. When the facts are unavailable...our minds will venture into scary territory.
The reason for this delimma is that one of the main tasks of the human brain is to solve problems,
even if it has to ‘stretch the facts' or ignore them entirely to come to an answer it likes. When the brain is presented
with a problem, it goes to work trying to solve the issue so that we can move forward with satisfaction and a peace of mind...even
if it's a false peace of mind. When our brain cannot adequately solve a problem, it begins to stress. This is one reason that
many people struggle with mathematics. Math requires our brain to look at a problem and through a series of steps, solve that
problem. It can be mentally exhausting, (especially if we have difficulty solving the problem), which is why some people end
up hating math and why some people shy away from all problem-solving as much as possible.
Since the brain works hard to solve problems, it is common for humans to enter into ‘Oblique
Thinking,' concerning various issues when an ‘easy' answer is not available. Oblique Thinking is a series of thought-patterns
that work to achieve satisfying answers to a problem, but end up falling short of a factual answer. In fact, oblique thinking
can lead us into 'distorted thinking,' which makes the matter worse. When we enter into Oblique Thinking, it can raise even
more questions and problems, which in turn can leave us feeling distraught, weak, confused and fearful or superstitious...all
very painful thoughts that exhibit themselves through painful emotions such as depression or anxiety.
When an answer, (based upon facts), becomes hard to find, our minds will often venture into mythical
thoughts that have little bearing upon the truth, or the problem we're attempting to solve. For example: Let's say we hear
a noise outside of our house during the night. Is it an animal? Is it prowler? Is it a Peeping Tom? (Or Tomasina, so as
not to sound prejudiced). Is it a stalker? A Serial Killer? Does this killer have a knife or a gun? Maybe it's a chain-saw???
Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!
This type of thinking,
which allows our minds to run away with us is ‘oblique thinking.' Let's say you finally get up the courage to crawl
across the floor, turn on the porch-light and peek through the window into the night beyond. The wind has blown your patio
umbrella over and it is now banging against the side of the house. No animal, no prowler, no Peeping Tom, no stalker, no Serial
Killer and no weapons. Just a umbrella blowing in the wind. Suddenly the mind begins to reclaim calm, the adrenaline gland
returns to normal and we often feel foolish for having allowed our mind to run away with us.
Another emotion that often falls victim to oblique thinking is jealousy. Jealousy is a human emotion
that follows a certain pattern of thought where we become suspicious, fearful, threatened and angry. You call your spouse
on their cell phone and they don't answer. Since you do not have the facts, (they are in the restroom), you begin to wonder
why they are not answering. You try again...no answer. Oblique thinking kicks in. Perhaps they are ignoring you? Perhaps they
are engaged in a flirting conversation with that no-good-for-nothing co-worker of theirs??? As these thoughts go unchecked,
the heart begins to race, the face fills with blood, and these are followed by feelings of fearfulness and anger. When they
DO answer your call...you are now furious. "Why didn't you answer my call?" you shout. "I was in the restroom
honey, sorry." they explain. "The restroom? Yea, right! I've been pacing the floor for five minutes, worried sick
and all you can tell me is that you were poo pooing? Where was ol' Lover boy while you were on the John? Huh?"
See what I mean? Oblique thinking can spell all kinds of trouble.
Now, because of your own run-away mind, your spouse thinks you are mental and you feel very suspicious of them for no reason.
Again, the problem is oblique thinking. To someone who is allowing their mind to run away with them with non-factual thoughts,
it begins to fill in the blanks with suspicion or conspiracy. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a
duck...it's probably an assassin! At least to the oblique thinker. Someone once asked me who I thought really murdered J.F.K..
My answer was this: "I don't know because I don't have all the facts. But one thing I do know for a FACT is...I didn't
do it. I was only two years old." They looked at me like I was the nutty one.
The answer for reeling in our thoughts is to base them upon as many facts as we can. If we don't have
all the facts, then it would be healthier to try and find them, than to simply allow our mind to fill in the blanks on it's
own. Detective Joe Friday might have seemed boring to most...but he wasn't motivated by oblique thinking either.
Copyright by Reydon Stanford 2010