The Innocent Habit of Believing Unloving Thoughts

By Adam J. Pearson

Friend: Things are slowly working out for me but I’m really struggling today and succumbing to suicidal thoughts.

Me: I’m happy to hear that you feel that things are slowly working out. Healing and growth are a process and moments of struggle along the way are a normal part of that. You have many strengths and you are drawing on them beautifully more and more and getting a sense of your own resilience, which is perfect.

As for the suicidal feelings, I hear you and I can relate to those from experience too. Connecting and sharing what you’re feeling rather than keeping it all inside is the perfect approach. You’re on the right path. You’re doing great and you’re not alone.

Photography by the great Annie Japaud. She’s fantastic. Support her!

Friend: I just feel a bit stupid and talentless and hard to love…

Me: Ah yes, I hear you. These are normal feelings that we all face from time to time. I wonder though, feel or think: which comes first? For me, it’s think, believe, then feel.

Isn’t it a thought that says “I’m a bit stupid,” “I’m talentless,” “I’m hard to love”? Who’s the judge in this court and on what evidence is it making such universal and absolute pronouncements? Isn’t it a mind, a mental process, that has made a habit of judging our worth on the basis of a few incidents in a sea of millions of others? That’s what happened in my case time after time. I feel you from experience and yes, your word “struggle” is exactly what it feels like.

What power does a thought have without our belief, without our faith in it? A thought arises. I believe it’s true about me, and then it seems as real as real can be. Then I feel accordingly. If a thought arises and you don’t believe it, what happens? It passes like a cloud in the sky, or a breeze that leaves no ripples on a perfectly still lake.

Photography by Annie Japaud. Check her out if you like her art!


Can we absolutely know that they’re true, though, these absolute statements about us, can we really? Or have we just developed an innocent habit of believing unloving thoughts because they speak with such confidence and authority?

You know, I’ve been interacting with you for quite a while now and I’ve seen you share many intelligent insights. I’ve seen you share your talents. I’ve seen you demonstrate many lovable qualities. And there are people who know you far better than I do and can give you many examples of all of these things… Is all of this objective evidence false, are we all wrong, or is the subjective thought that ignores it all false? That was something worth considering in my case.

Depression and suicidal thoughts are rough. They feel so heavy. And the temptation to lose ourselves in the feelings is so strong. All that works for me in those moments is being gentle with myself, saying “Hey, you’re feeling sad, going through something tough right now. This is perfectly natural and normal. Many people feel like this sometimes,” and then ask myself: “What am I believing?” And then find the guilty culprit thoughts trying to slide counterfeit ‘truths’ about “me” into my belief system, hoping I won’t check them to find out they’re fugazis or fakes.

You probably don’t need my advice, but in case it’s helpful, what often helps me when depressing thoughts are arising is this: (1) give myself empathy, even when the dark thoughts arise, talk to myself like I’m my own child or my own best friend, hold a caring space for myself, and then (2) when a little space clears, question what I’m believing.

In the clear space of not believing unloving thoughts, the mind relaxes into its Source. Thinking is agitation. As it subsides and faith flows out of it, where does it go? It rests here, now. In the absence of believing unloving thoughts, we don’t seem not to love ourselves. Love is there, gentle and quiet. It says nothing, does not even ask us to believe it. When we’re not believing agitated thoughts, peace is here.

If we’re not believing unloving thoughts, attention rests in being, loving now. If we are believing unloving thoughts, we need only be gentle with ourselves and inquire into whether or not they are true, whether we can absolutely know they are true, how we react when we believe them, and who we’d be without them. There’s always hope, always; there can only seem not to be when we don’t believe there is. But those thoughts, also, can be questioned. And they don’t stand up to truth.

You’re great, dear friend, really. I see what you’re going through and I’m here for and with you. Hang in there. ❤

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