Solid, Liquid, Gas: Water Can Teach Us Thought Management


We know that water can be a solid, liquid or gas. That makes water an excellent metaphor or illustration for thoughts, which can also be a solid, liquid or gas.

What we feel has much to do with how we think. Knowing the difference between “types” of thoughts can help us manage our depression, anxiety or other mental illness.

Solid Thoughts

Our thoughts become solid when we believe them. Believing a thought makes it a part of our mindset, and our mindset affects our emotions and our body. These solid thoughts provide a framework for our lives, a self-image, so we must choose them wisely.

For instance, if you believe the thought that you are powerless, that thought becomes one of a cluster of thoughts that you call “me.” When you think of “me” or “I,” it will include powerlessness because your belief has made that a reality. Solid ideas create our self-image. If our self-image is peppered with thoughts such as, “I am powerless,” our self-image will contribute to a depressed or anxious mood.

How to Manage Them

Some psychotherapies address the solid thoughts that create a problematic self-image. For instance, cognitive or psycho-dynamic therapies help individuals identify beliefs that have been held for so long they seem like facts. Once we know our negative-effect beliefs, we can melt them with our awareness and choose more effective ones to hold on to.

Liquid Thoughts

Thought has often been compared to a river. The river of thought contains all possible thoughts. This rush of ideas is available to an open and curious mind, an intention to learn or create. As thoughts flow, they help us do work by turning the wheels in our mind. “Liquid” ideas are free to collide and make interesting connections. They inspire and sometimes enlighten us.

How to Use Them

The river of thought is not positive or negative, but work done there will reflect the heart and intentions of the person using it. If we take any of the river’s thoughts and hang on to them tightly, they lose energy and become a solid. This is not necessarily bad. Ice has its uses. However, we need to be aware of how we use thought so that we are not trapped within it.

Gas Thoughts

When we stop working with thoughts and observe them, they become clouds scudding across the sky. If the mind is exceptionally still, thought is as invisible as humidity in the air. Observing without making judgments (thinking) is being mindful.

How to Free Them

When we are mindful, thoughts are wispy things that carry no personal baggage or emotional weight. They are no longer about us. We experience that being, or being alive, does not depend on thinking. If we know moments of mental stillness, it becomes apparent that the drama of our daily thoughts is not life nor who we are.

When we again engage our thoughts, they lose some of their gaseous vibrancy and we find ourselves back in the river of thought, thinking, inventing, collecting, comparing, measuring, making our living and sharing our ideas with others.


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