Detaching Myself from “My” Ideas

I used to think I had ideas. Or thoughts. Beliefs… I used to think I had all of these things. I thought they were mine; and when something is yours, you’ll do anything to protect it.

So, I had some ideas floating around in my head: opinions, beliefs, and thoughts about the world. I walked around with an attachment to these ideas. After all, they were in my head, and I had thought a lot about them. When something or someone would challenge these ideas, my first reaction would be to explain or defend my ideas. I had invested so much time and thought into these ideas, so I figured it would be silly to just let them go and not put up a fight.

But maybe letting go of my ideas is exactly the course of action I should have been taking all along. To begin, they weren’t really my ideas at all. They were mostly an amalgamation of other people’s ideas. This was the first important thing I came to understand regarding ideas. But this, too, isn’t exactly right, because those people don’t have ideas either.

To quote Carl Jung: “People don’t have ideas, ideas have people.”  When I think about how an idea surfaces, it’s not something I consciously create. It’s something that emerges within my consciousness. It simply rises through me like a fine mist. It’s when my mind is at rest that the most profound ideas appear to me. And then they’re gone. I can think about the idea, but I can’t find it anywhere within me. I can’t locate it, I can’t grasp it, and I can’t have it. It’s not mine.

When I started to separate myself from ideas, I began to lose any vested interest in proving them right. They aren’t something I feel as if I need to defend anymore since I have no attachment to them. I’m still going to make my case and defend what I believe to be true, but I’m perfectly willing to accept I could be wrong. In fact, the most likely scenario is that I’m wrong.

Starting from this position allows me to genuinely listen to people. I can lend my ear and say “tell me what you know, because I’m probably wrong, and I’d like to find the truth.” If I start from the position of “let me tell you why I’m right,” it becomes difficult to truly listen to the other person, because my focus isn’t on what they’re saying, but what I’m saying.

I’ve seen the latter position rear its ugly head far too many times. The more invested somebody becomes in an idea, the worse it gets. This is what happens when somebody becomes ideologically possessed. They become so invested in an idea or a certain line of thinking, and they’ve staked so much on it, to let it go would be an admission of a lot of wasted time. Nobody wants to admit they’re wrong, but people really don’t want to admit they’ve been wrong for most of their lives.

When somebody is possessed by an idea or an ideology, they’ll do anything to defend it. Because of this, the person becomes almost indistinguishable from the ideology. Nothing they say is an original thought, merely a projection of the ideology. The conversation is impossible. They’ll attack you and your character, and do whatever it takes to stay away from discussing the points at hand. They’re almost always angry, and the ideology is their outlet.

It’s difficult to talk to these people, especially online, but there is hope. If you demonstrate you’re at peace and are content and respectful, it can be enough to prevent somebody from becoming possessed by an idea. When somebody is yelling at you or insulting you and calling you names, and you peacefully listen and respond calmly and rationally, an outsider who maintains any shred of individuality will take notice. Even if they disagree with the points your making, it will be impossible to disregard your behavior.


Jason Brendel
Jason Brendel

Jason Brendel is an author, poet, and comedian living in Austin, Texas. Navigate the buttons below to follow him on social media, make a donation, or purchase his collection of laugh-out-loud poetry on Amazon.

17 thoughts on “Detaching Myself from “My” Ideas

  1. “First of all, they weren’t really my ideas. They were mostly an amalgamation of other people’s ideas. This was the first important thing I came to understand regarding ideas. But this, too, isn’t exactly right, because those people don’t have ideas either.”

    Soooooo true! 😊

  2. I like this ! Though I’m inclined to disagree, and mainly because I wrote a whole paper about how a writer is rarely distinguishable from their work/ideas- I mean surely the “fine mist” materialising through you has picked up little you particles (however small) in the process ?

    Anyway, this is just to say, this post sparked thoughts beyond Instagram posts in me. So yay! 👏🏾👏🏾

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! I think you could definitely say that a writer isn’t distinguishable from their work/ideas and also that you can’t have ideas, in the sense that you can’t have something that you are. I think the mind and ideas are both developments of consciousness, which is something we all share. So, I guess my point is essentially that when an idea arises within consciousness, it isn’t an individual’s idea to claim ownership of, but something we all share within consciousness.

  3. That’s so true, guilty also! I like to say I’m ever evolving, never the same person for more than a day. Sometimes even the day changes me. You make me think thoughts! Thanks for that!

  4. You’re overly optimistic in my opinion. Hardly anyone realises they’ve never had one original thought in their whole life, and that to an extent that’s typically in proportion to their fanaticism. Opinions are mostly leaked from the environment into people’s lives, but they take them as springing from their very core. The degree of delusion goes hand in hand with that of stupidity.

    1. I like your point about opinions being leaked into people from the environment, that seems to be very true. I don’t think I’m being overly optimistic, though. I think it would be overly optimistic to expect to pull somebody out of idealogical possession alone or for that to be done easily. When people are gone they’re usually pretty gone and it takes a long time and repeated instances of negative experience for them to come out of it. I think delusion and stupidity aren’t necessarily correlated either. I’ve seen plenty of very smart people become possessed by an idea or ideology. I think classifying those people as stupid only bridges the gap between people and creates an “other” mentality. I’ve caught myself in that train of thought in the past, thinking “well these people are just stupid, they’re not like me,” but that just creates a sense of resentment towards humanity in general and resentment is even uglier than stupidity.

      1. Delusion and stupidity do correlate in my experience, as indeed they are almost synonymous. When they don’t seem to it’s because a third factor enter the equation – vested interest, something at which smart humans are regrettably often inclined to.

      2. Yeah smart people are definitely prone to vested interest, that’s a good point. I think there may be a stronger correlation between vested interest and delusion than stupidity and delusion. That’s interesting, I’ll have to think about that more.

  5. I find it hard to understand your position. If all ideas are delusory, and if you have achieved detachment from them, then why discuss them or try to better them at all?

    1. To get to the truth. There’s an ancient quote that says “if you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be “for” or “against”. The struggle between “for” and “against” is the mind’s worst disease.”

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