“I’ve got nothing to say.”
This is a mental habit, an automatic thought that arises when it’s time to sit down to write. Another automatic thought is “I don’t know,” which has a far more expansive field of meaning—“I don’t know” arises in response to many questions and demands.
On another layer is the emotional quality of feeling stuck, feeling stifled somehow, suggesting another truth. Some part of me felt the wish to show up to writing, and if there is a longing to write, there must be something to say. Yet that urge to express something has met with the leaden habit of resistance, “I’ve got nothing to say.”
The anxiety that emerges is, in my observation, often what happens when resistance blocks energy seeking expression. Anxiety is the longing to act rubbing against a refusal to act. If the longing cannot overcome the refusal, anxiety grows larger and more intense, or burns down into a dull depressive flame. Energy wants to move.
On another layer is the physical experience of standing here at my desk, looking at the screen, feeling the keys under my fingers, noticing those feelings of anxiety and stuckness. Somewhere in my gloriously biological brain, synapses are firing and moving closer together, braided into a new configuration, a complexity that yields new insight and activity. For whatever reason, as a human, I am not content with the contents of my brain. Some drive seeks to forge new connections, prune connections that lead to suffering, to find a new truth amidst the information my senses constantly receive.
On another layer is what might be called the soul, the Self, the psyche, a part that is highly contested and difficult to find if you’re looking for it. This part seems a totality that is and is separate from the whole. When I dream, my waking mind’s rigid habits of thought relax and my mind’s eye opens to how this part of me, this psyche, perceives the world: A symbolic, non-rational, and profoundly deep and complex experiencing. It is here, I think, that the impulse seeking expression has its origin. Here are the muddy roots, the nourishing dark decay.
The mind is an expert organizer and manager, and the psyche is fertile chaos, an uneasy partnership. Disconnected from its roots, the mind becomes enamored of its own rationalizations. Our stories harden and our beliefs about ourselves and the world become fixed. Often these stories and beliefs are the strategies we use to manage or avoid these deeper experiences that threaten to overturn the mind’s certainty.
We think we are engaging in intellectual discussions when we are really arguing because we feel judged or unsafe and the emotional part of us is closing down. We ignore emotions that are not what we think we should feel. We engage in habits of thought and action that shut us down, block our self’s expression, and sometimes actively hurt us because our mind believes these habits are necessary for survival.
We can liberate the mind and sink deeper into the Self. We can become skeptical of our own rationalizations and stories, and we can look to what emotions lie beneath, what bodily sensations, what stirrings of the soul. We can allow room for the non-rational, those images, practices, or beliefs that are mind cannot easily contain and integrate. We need these experiences to keep ourselves from becoming stuck and blind in our mind’s self-perpetuating cycle. We need the things we do not understand to invite us to continue going deeper, forging those new connections, seeking what lies beneath.