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We need to learn to be alone with our thoughts

Enough with podcasts: it's time to think

We need to learn to be alone with our thoughts Enough with podcasts: it's time to think

Once, during a Tinder date that wasn't going well, the person I was walking with said, "You can't take public transportation with music in your ears; how do you hear people, get inspiration from the world around you?" It astonished me. Not so much because I feel that listening to people on public transport is not helpful, but mainly because without music I would have to heed my thoughts freely flowing, lulled by the sounds of the subway as I traverse the city. Who willingly listens to their thoughts? Certainly not me. "I'm just a girl, watching a movie, scrolling through Instagram because I don't want to spend even a second in the company of my thoughts." How many memes of this kind have you seen online lately? Personally, thousands. Perhaps this is also why podcasts are so popular, expanding vastly to cover any topic and theme (including true crime), and they can be listened to anywhere, while cleaning, on public transport, while driving, taking a shower, or simply while walking or being on social media.

Keyword: Escapism

There's a reason why most millennials and Gen Z (myself included, as the episode documents) bombard their brains with noisy content almost 24/7, often even at double speed. We fear the news that floods social media every day, and the more negative it is, the more viral it becomes, making it harder to escape, distract ourselves. We fear our future, our work and economic situation, our prospects for emotional and material fulfillment. We fear what we feel because it seems we don't have the means to manage it. We don't want to remember, we don't want to feel embarrassment, we don't want to think about ourselves: we live and survive by constantly distracting ourselves, escaping from the here and now. It's very difficult to be young adults in this world and at this moment, processing our feelings about personal things, small tragedies, medium ones, and big ones—so huge that we can't even allow ourselves to start facing them.

Not Just Podcasts: Other Methods to Avoid Thinking

Content is not the only way to distract ourselves, even though it has the advantage of making us feel always updated and on point. You can, for example, always be in company. Moving from one commitment to another—even if it's not sustainable in the long run—is an excellent method to not be alone with our thoughts even for a second, and it fills us with friendships and acquaintances, avoiding loneliness at all costs. As if that weren't enough, it tires us a lot: we'll fall asleep in a second and have a dreamless sleep without dreams. There are even those who, to avoid thinking, embark on reckless ventures. It's also a matter of habit. According to some studies, people don't appreciate being alone with themselves without stimuli or distractions even for a period of time ranging from 6 to 15 minutes, which is really short in the context of a lifetime or even just a day.



original sound - Oswaldo Cepeda

What's the Point of Being Alone with Our Thoughts?

This avoidant attitude cannot last forever, and it's time to say it clearly. Even if we wanted to escape from the things of the world, we could never escape from ourselves: we might as well face ourselves. Spending time alone with ourselves, in our heads, listening to our thoughts could be positive: it could help us understand who we are and what we want at this moment, for example. Or which memories we need to overcome, which ideas about ourselves are outdated, how our behaviors impact the people around us. Sometimes, it might even give us the chance to express desires and work out solutions. Moreover, it allows us not to limit our feelings and to experience the entire spectrum of human emotions. Terrifying, but also sincere and useful to ourselves. It's amazing what our inner voice can do when we give it the space it deserves. On this topic, Ethan Kross has even written a book titled Chatter.

How Do You Do It?

How do you learn to be alone with yourself after months (perhaps years) of continuous noise? It may sound silly, but this is also a matter of habit and practice. We need to give ourselves time to be silent, impose not picking up the phone every time we have nothing to do. Moreover, it could be helpful, in the early stages of this change, to decide in advance how many minutes to dedicate to this activity, which, even though it seems passive, is instead active and hence scares us. Another thing to keep in mind is that negative thoughts will inevitably come, and we should be ready to face them. If we think we don't have the means to do so, a good idea might be to turn to a therapist, honestly, to do it together. It will be worth it.