Why do downward spirals happen in the mind

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Any insights into why they occur?

what purpose they serve  ? 

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Fundamentally, "downward spirals" are stories designed to justify why you should resist reality. There's some secondary layers and nuances to it, but that's basically what it is. The ego very easily attaches itself to stories and imagination, that's actually how it exists and perpetuates itself. Today, a lot of people place immense value on thoughts and imagination.

The reason it is addicting to latch onto these stories is because there is a sense of righteousness there, the ego feels it is right, it thinks something real and valuable and tangible is there, so it latches on. It forgoes feeling good and being at peace, and instead chooses to think incessantly about these stories, which often brings serious emotional dismay. The imagination has limitless potential. It can contort things in many ways. Once you place so much value on something like imagination, it can lead to a lot of problems. After a while, the ego starts creating a bias towards what types of thoughts it likes and identifies with, and it becomes harder to let go of those over time, because after a while your ego builds so much of its personality and life around those thoughts.

If you're just conscious of how it makes you feel instead of being "right" or "correct", you might find that it is much easier to let go of these stories and falling into spirals. Next time, if you consciously look at it, you will simply see that the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to "falling into the spiral". You'll realize that it doesn't make sense to continue thinking about certain things because it wont bring any positive change, it will just ruin your emotional state. It's much easier to just let go, and it will be a net positive in every regard. Being conscious here simply means to realize that falling into a "downward spiral" is equivalent to self-harm, like stabbing yourself with a knife for no reason. No one will consciously harm themselves. It's common sense to remove your hand from a hot stove. It's the same principle here. But the ego would rather get burned and feel correct than remove the hand. The ego would rather torture itself than to stop being logical.

If you start practicing this, the next time you feel yourself falling into a spiral, you will consciously perceive an upsurge of negative emotions associated with it, and then immediately you will recognize that as a cue to just let go of those thoughts, and then you will easily let go of them, because that is the action that will negate those emotions. It's the only action that makes sense when you are behaving consciously. Just letting go. The outcome of letting go is way better than thinking about those thoughts. There will be an initial thought that creates an unpleasant emotion, then, from there is the vital moment where you can choose to keep your mental peace or allow yourself to get sucked into that thought. 

Metaphysically speaking, there is no emotional content to thoughts. That is something that comes after the fact. You have to build that type of relationship with your thoughts first, it is not an inherent property of thoughts. Over time, you may have gotten your emotions and value systems unconsciously wrapped up in thoughts, which only have a psychological reality and no existential reality. This can be improved and turned into a more conscious relationship.


"God is not a conclusion, it is a sudden revelation. When you see a rose it is not that you go through a logical solipsism, "This is a rose, and roses are beautiful, so this must be beautiful." The moment you see it, the head stops spinning thoughts. On the contrary, your heart starts beating faster. It is something totally different from the idea of truth." -Osho

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