If I’m Not My Thoughts, What Am I?

Kieran Parker-Moroney
2 min readJul 20, 2023

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I don’t have an answer for this.

I’m going to use thoughts/emotions fairly interchangeably here.

I have meditated semi-regularly for about 8 years. 20 mins of breath focus. When I do it consistently my life is better. Not through some undefinable magic in the ether but because I find time to breathe, to pause between the inception of a thought and the moment I roll with it.

In meditation, there is an oft-repeated analogy about your thoughts- you are sitting by the side of a river watching the river (your thoughts) go by, it is easy to get swept up in them and to get stuck in the river. When you sit on the side you are able to realise you aren’t your thoughts or emotions. You can watch them go by and not get pulled away by the negative spirals.

Sit by the river, don’t get swept into it

When I meditate regularly I really resonate with this idea. If I have negative (or positive) thoughts pop up, I am able to stop myself before I spiral with them or blindly accept them as true.

I realise this is obvious for some people, but I definitely used to identify my thoughts or emotions as purely me. Then I think about how we are capable of creating thoughts that bare no resemblance to us or are totally untrue, ‘I’m going to spend all my savings in a casino’, but I know I would never do that...The jokes on the internet about intrusive thoughts make me think of this, you know they don’t represent you.

However, this begs the question, if I am not my thoughts, what am I?

I don’t have an answer.

I am the thing that produces them. Is there a core of thinking that is ‘you’? Is the skill to realise many thoughts are just random and to get in tune with this core and ignore the imposter/fake thoughts?

I find it quite a freeing idea, when I first started thinking about it I could feel my ego wanting to hold onto ‘my’ thoughts, ‘my’ emotions, like it was some sort of identity crisis. Whenever this is resistance like that I think there is something to explore.

Any good reading on this?

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Kieran Parker-Moroney

Interested in learning. Art collector, investor, DeFi obsessed, golfer.