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  • Jaime Lang

Spider-Web Thought Patterns

Speech is linear. Language tends to be fairly linear. Look at this line that you are reading. The words hook together like links in a chain.

Why does this matter?

It matters because as humans it is common for the most conscious parts of our thoughts to take the form of speech. Have you noticed this?

If someone describes their thoughts they will come out very similar to sentences. This is important because thoughts shape our interpretation of reality, they are what we tell ourselves about everything we interact with (including ourselves) and generally when you first start thinking about thoughts you are likely to notice a linear pattern… But.. Thoughts are not actually linear.

I can’t speak for everyone of course, but what I’ve noticed about thoughts is that they take a pattern that is far more complex. A spider web would be better model (though still overly simplified) for them. Now our conscious focus tends to be able to only follow a certain amount of information, so while we might be aware of one line of thoughts it does not mean that multiple lines and layers are not occurring simultaneously. This could be compared to tracing a spiderweb. If you tried to trace a spiderweb you would follow a single line but it would diverge and you would have to chose which divergence to follow, then it would split again and again you would have to choose a path. Eventually you may map out the entire web—likely following certain lines multiple times—but if you had enough time and patience you could do it.

Now think about your thoughts. Often, they are like a spiderweb, but a temporary one that is continually being linked to and replaced by new webs. They all continue to exist but they are growing exponentially while your conscious thoughts can only move one line at a time. This is a good way to understand how sub and unconscious thoughts and beliefs can build even if we follow that one line of thought every second.

For every thought you have there are several splits in that direction of that thought that you can choose to follow with your attention. Whichever split you follow will lead you to a new direction. This is how you learn to both observe and change your thoughts. You aren’t actually changing your thoughts they all exist, but you are changing which set of thoughts you are focusing on and which course of webs you are paying attention to. All of these layers of reality exist simultaneously but when you start to become aware of the web of thoughts and choose which parts of the webs you want to follow you also start to change your experience of reality.

Having this view of thoughts—just changing the image—can be helpful because instead of trying to cram the entire web of thoughts into a single stream you can recognize your ability to not actually change the thoughts but glide over the strings to whatever destination you would like to reach.

Side note, this entire line of thoughts came as a tangential reaction to a video I just posted on YouTube about one of the symptoms commonly experienced by people who have the disorders I have. I’m adding the video here if you want to watch it, but after talking about pressured speech I started to think about the reason for it.

Part of that reason was something I talked about in the video—a level of anxiety and pain which made me want to speed through a thought process—but I realized that part of it was that when I talk in that way I am trying to cram several strands of webbing into one line. It is too much information across too many topics to actually fit into one coherent dialogue, but they are all connected and to try to keep up with the expansion of the webs I will sometimes talk too fast or get off topic in an attempt to communicate those strands.

It was a realization that I found interesting, especially if you are curious about these types of symptoms or can relate to these experiences.

Anyway, I hope this diagram for thoughts is helpful. Have a good night. Thank you for reading.

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