Chatter vs. original thought: When did you start to think for yourself?
“I was thirty years old before I had an actual thought.” When I read this statement in the book Do the Work by Steven Pressfield, I laughed.
But then, like any good left-handed comment does, it made me pause. “Hey, wait a minute. I’m 40. I’m a writer. I live and thrive on original thought… don’t I?”
In this book, Pressfield hits a nerve that we all have as a hotspot: Resistance. Although that may sound like it comes straight out of a Star Wars movie, it has much more truth than we would like to admit.
Anytime anyone wants to better themselves, make a difference, lose weight, give back, exceed expectations, improve the state of their inner- or outer-being, Resistance is poised and ready to stop us.
Also of great importance is the method. The most dastardly thing about Resistance is its ability to disguise itself. We never see it coming. We begin to think, “Wow. That was a silly thought. What made me think I could pull something like that off?
But thinking like this is not original thought. It’s simply chatter.
If that internal chatter doesn’t stop us, then Resistance takes it up a notch and uses someone we trust. “You’ve got a family to think about, you can’t begin a venture like that without first having some guarantees. How are you going to do that, and your day job? You should really just do more research, or better yet, leave it to someone else, buddy.”
Then, the universe itself seems to send us a message by presenting an array of people who all seem like they are better equipped, smarter, more fit, richer, better educated and higher on the social scale. But by participating in the destructive behavior of comparing ourselves to others, we succumb to Resistance, and eventually settle for the status quo.
Instead of cultivating original thought, we begin to dwell on chatter.
Pressfield goes on to explain:
“Chatter is your mother and father’s well-intentioned expressions of caution, seeking to shield you from hurting yourself. Chatter is your teacher’s equally well-meaning attempts at socialization, training you to follow the rules. Chatter is your friends’ regular-Joe buddy-talk, trying to make you like them and follow the rules of the pack.
Chatter is Resistance.”
If we do not make the distinction between our original thought, and chatter, we could be jeopardizing our significance in this world by making decisions based on the wrong input.
So how do we distinguish the two?
I’m not exactly sure. And I’m not even sure the same method would work for everyone.
But what I do know is that we all face this struggle. Even the richer, prettier, better educated, fancier-car-driving people who live in bigger houses, they face it too. Things are never as they seem.
In my next post, I’ll expand on what I am doing to win the challenge of chatter versus original thought. Even I am anxious to see what I come up with.
In the meantime, do you remember your first original thought? Have you found a way to drown out the chatter? How do you face the Resistance in your life? I’d love to know.
Posted on June 24, 2011, in Finding Your Significance, Resistance and tagged Chatter versus Original Thought, Do the Work, Resistance, Significance, Steven Pressfield. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.