Let’s hearken back to the early days of email.

You dial up. You listen to the squeaky scratchy noises. You wait for the AOL man to say “Welcome!” You wait to see if he’s finished his greeting, or if he’s simply pausing before telling you the exciting news: “You’ve got mail!”

Woo-hoo!

These were the days when email was exciting. Each one mattered.

Fast forward to now. Email is ubiquitous. If you have your own website and domain name, you can open up your computer in the morning and find 198 new emails. Most of them spam.

This week alone, even with my spam filters working like crazy, hundreds of spam email got through.

What if we sat down, opened each one of them, took them very seriously, and even spent time clicking through the links? What if we actually believed these emails?

If that were the case, here’s a fraction of what I would’ve believed this week (and I am making none of this up):

• that I can get a genuine (yes, genuine!) university degree in 6 weeks.

• that my penis needs updating.

• that there are major errors and breaches in my NatWest, SunTrust and Halifax bank accounts, and I no longer have access to these accounts I never knew I had.

• that I am inadequate and can choose not to be inadequate anymore and that Viagra could help with my feelings of inadequacy.

• that my website looks good but my traffic sucks.

• that nothing impresses business colleagues more than a classic Chanel strapped around my wrist.

• that Mrs. Roesel Kunie’s late husband left her $24 million, but she has no children to give it to, and she’s got cancer and she wants to give this money to me. (Oh, and I am to trust in the Lord.)

• that I can boost my confidence with a larger organ. (No mention of the size of my piano or guitar.)

• that many many nice girls are bored tonight and would like to chat with me.

• that es gibt keinen einzigen Grund, auf einen Schuhputzautomaten zu verzichten!

As you can see, it was quite a week for me. And that’s only a small snapshot.

Of course, I do not click on any of the links. I do what we all do…

I hit delete as fast as I can.

Okay. So, we all get spam. We all ignore it. It continues to come. So what?

Well, ponder something here.

Let’s hearken (yes, we’re doing that again) back to the early days of thoughts – say, when you were two or three. A thought was a simple thing. (“You’ve got thoughts!”) A thought here. A thought there.

“I like dad.”

“That is mine.”

“I want the earring on her ear to be in my fist right now.”

As you got older, however, your mind became like Mrs. Roesel Kunie, the nice girls who are bored, Viagra, and the luxury watch warehouse.

In other words, your mind became a spammer. It began to generate thoughts constantly.

And admit it. You encouraged it.

You gave attention to those thoughts. You took them seriously. You’ve clicked those links every time. And your mind – being your mind – convinced you that the thoughts were the truth. It kept churning out the thoughts, and you kept clicking the links, and now the spam filters can’t be updated fast enough.

Here’s how mind spam works:

You’re driving home after a party. It was a great party, and you’re happy inside.

Bink! Your mind spams you. (“You’ve got mail!”)

The spam subject heading is: “You’ve always been a moron. Here’s how…”

You’re curious. (“I am?! Do tell!”) You click.

The body of the spam is: “You know, that woman named Rachel seemed to avoid you after you made that stupid remark to her.”

Rather than rolling your eyes and hitting delete, you do the very thing your mind wants you to do. You click the link! You pore over the details of that spam thought. And before you know it, you’ve entered the actual website of that thought. (www.101reasonsyou’reamoron.com.)

Now you’re in trouble. You begin clicking links like a madman. You’ve followed that spam and are now putting that whole story into a shopping cart and clicking BUY! Before you know it, you feel awful. And you believe all of that mind spam like it’s the truth.

Probably your mind spam takes an angle that’s just right for you. Maybe yours is a thought like, “I’m going to end up broke and in pain.” Or, “The Republicans have ruined everything.” Or, “I’ve failed before, so now I have to hold on tight to what I’ve got so nothing bad will happen again.”

No matter what the thought, it’s just that: a thought. You can believe it. Or not.

Should you bombard your mind spam with affirmations? Should you try to smile and pretend your mind doesn’t do this kind of thing? Should you try to clean up all of your thoughts so that they don’t happen ever again?

Well, you can work on that stuff, sure. But the mind will keep churning it out. And my advice is this:

When mind spam happens, do exactly what you do when email spam happens.

See it as the spam it is. Roll your eyes. Click “delete.”

44 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Christina Ammerman

    I’m reading this article for the first time today. Here we are five years later, and both of these types of spam still plague the world. Ah well, the more things change…

    I really love the metaphor you’ve drawn here. It totally works for me – I can see myself labeling those thoughts as spam and clicking an imaginary Delete button.

    And thanks for the tip about Byron Katie. I’ve learned so much just from her book titles; maybe now I’ll actually read the inside too.

    Peace and blessings,
    Christina

  • Ben

    That’s really an interesting way to look at self-defeating thoughts, “mind spam.” I like it. Very creative and very fun to read. Thanks for the great article.

  • Luna

    Excellent post, Christine! What a perfect analogy!!

    You gave me some serious food for thought…
    GOOD thought 🙂

    Thanks for this,
    Luna

  • m

    Heres the spam art by linzi Hunter

    http://www.linziehunter.co.uk/shop.html

  • chris zydel

    Hi Christine,

    You made me laugh out loud! What a great, and fun, analogy for how to work with that wildly prolific, endlessly churning, crazy monkey mind. Being able to separate from those thoughts and realizing that they are NOT YOU is the first step in effectively dealing with them, and seeing them as spam is a wonderful, visceral way of making that separation, cause hey, who wants to identify themselves with spam!

    Thanks for a wonderful article….

  • m

    Christine a UK artist started to make the most funny and touching artwork out of spam emails I’ll try and find the link for you.

  • ChickiePam

    Well, that’s an excellent analogy of what goes on in my head sometimes. Here’s what I do…I go to a different website. (One particular night recently when my mind was caught in a particularly ugly loop, I did take a shot of Jack Daniels to help find the right website, but that was a very drastic measure for a very drastic time!) I take out my iPod, plug in the headphones and hit the random button under the Abraham Hicks playlist. I have about 15 of their weekly CD’s and I have them all loaded up. I find that it doesn’t matter which one I listen to. It calms me down and my life brain can rest. And I go to sleep with the earbuds in and often wake up to Abraham. Works for me.

    Thanks for all that you do. My life is much richer for having you in it.
    Pam

  • bonni

    Oh, one other thought on this… Some people use spam subjects and contents creatively. Some compose poetry, and I’ve seen someone who creatively composes little short stories. Others paint or draw funny or entertaining illustrations of the spam subjects. This kind of goes with the old saying about making lemonade when life gives you lemons, I think. 😉

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks everyone for such in-depth sharing. That helps people out more than you might know. Byron Katie’s work is, indeed, a great Akismet filter! (If you’re a 4 on the enneagram – she is a must-read!)

  • Mark

    Cool post Christine. I second Amylia’s recommendation of Byron Katie’s “Work” for getting rid of mind-spam.

    I never ate Spam, either, for what it’s worth, but I hear a lot of people like it. 😉

  • Jannie Sue

    Penis “updating” like getting a new hairdo or shoe style? lol

    But seriously, I like how this post ties in to and reinforces your one about The Universe Is your Dog. Be your thoughts!

    Jannie

  • Amylia Grace

    Christine,
    You inspire me with your ability to connect deeper truths and meanings to the every day things of life, like spam. It helps me to know there are other people out there who also make such connections and sometimes cry for the trees in the parking lot which the world forgot (been there). Thank you for this post. It makes so much sense to me and when I can detach from the spam-like thoughts and just let them come and not hold power over me to automatically buy the crap they’re sellin’ me that isn’t the truth, then I am a step closer to true freedom and for me that means true joy. I like this analogy very much.

    I’ve found that the best spam filter for me is Byron Katie’s “The Work,” with her 4 questions and a turnaround. I know you know it, but these are transforming my beliefs.

    1. Is it true?
    2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
    3. How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought?
    4. Who would you be without the thought?

    And the turn-around (turn the thought around to the opposite of that thought, to yourself or to the other).

    I find that I project so much of myself or my thoughts onto other people and that they rarely think the things I think about myself or the world. This process of inquiry is helping me to not believe my thoughts so much anymore and realize that pretty much any thought that brings me stress or makes me feel bad isn’t real, like Roesel Kunie’s $24,000,000 inheritance that she so desperately wants to leave to me. Seeing my thoughts on par with these types of statements and emails helps me to detach from my repetitive, false thoughts and not take it all so personally.

  • Sue

    This is awesome. A great way to instantly label those things as we do them, become aware and delete. Thanks!!!

  • Isaac Viana Tapias

    I usually don’t leave comments, but your spam-thoughts analogy clicked on me something. I’m not prone to being a pessimistic, but usually I remember the bad things, and getting my brain in the spam-filter mode should be easy for a tech/military-minded guy like me.

    Thanks.

  • Robert A. Henru

    Hi Christine, I’m encouraged by this post very much!
    I’m one of the member in grow your subscriber group. Great to know you and able to support each other. Looking forward to learn more from your blog =)

    Keep on smilin’
    Robert

  • Jonathan Mead

    I’m just waiting for them to come out with Akismet for my brain. Sigh.

    Great analogy!

  • Michelle

    Again, your ability to take an everyday occurance and turn it into something that is incredibly relevant to living as the best “me” that I can has inspired me…as it always does. Sometimes “just not going there” is the best thing I can do for myself.

  • Christine Kane

    thanks imelda and antonella!

    La Moretta – I get what your saying here. And of course, this article is meant to be somewhat on the lighter side…

    Here’s the thing for me. I used to follow each thought to its source and got very very focused on the “not repressing anything” side of thoughts and emotions. but that became useless – cuz i could trick myself into total misery because i was SO devoted to ‘not repressing’ anything. at some point I had to realize that i was totally aware of all of my negative thought patterns, and that I could just begin to diminish their power by not GIVING them power in the first place.

  • Antonella

    This is absolutely brilliant and so true!
    Just delete the “movies” we’re directing and styling in our minds.
    Thanks a lot

  • La Moretta

    I understand what you are saying, Christine, but I have found that the only way to truly dismiss mind spam about your personality and worth is to face these fears down. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself getting the same messages at a later date because you have just shushed them. It’s better to look clearly at this so-called flaw you possess and meditate on it until it loses its power for good.

  • Imelda/GreenishLady

    That is the only good use of spam I’ve ever encountered. Brilliant! Thanks so much Christine. Roll my eyes. Delete it! Yes!

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks to everyone for the links, and the quotes, and the jokes, and the personal stories too! As for “delete” vs. just noticing the thoughts. I think it’s sort of the same thing. This is more about not taking each thought as the truth. (like we do with spam.)

    Pat K – that’s a great story of reminding yourself to be aware of the power of your thoughts. You go! I’m sending you light.

    And Colin – I simply have to smile at your range of tone as you comment!

    caren – i think spam filters are written about in all of these comments – all of them are practices, but none of them are meant to “stop” the mind from doing its thing!

  • Pat K.

    I recently learned that they found an abnormality on my mammogram of last week and I have to go in for an MRI. First I started this “story” of how I would practice saying to my family “I have breast cancer” and all those maudlin stories that our head (EGO) spins for us, all the while honestly trying NOT to think about it. So, I said to myself I would insert the mantra “I choose health” when I caught myself spinning a tale of the victim once again. I was shocked at how often my ego would spin that story, over and over. The ego is a tricky thing.

    This morning when I called the doctors office to get more info, they said it was just abnormal looking cells and 9 times out of 10 it is just calcification and not much to worry about. Now I feel better, and I think I can wait the two weeks it will take to go in for an MRI, all the while repeating my “I choose health” mantra. (Note that I use the word “choose” instead of “am.” There is a big difference.

  • Al at 7P

    “Mind spam” … great analogy! This article made me smile as well 🙂

  • Colin

    CK, sssshhhhhh..how about forwarding that penis update thing to me, but don’t tell anyone, OK?

  • Caren

    Mind spam. tee-hee Just had to say (write) it. Thanks for another great tool!

    To continue the metaphor… what would our spam filters be? Positive thoughts? Hanging out with positive people? Meditation?

  • Nancy

    I love the way you put it –“mind spam”. Now I’ll just hit delete when those neg thoughts start popping up uninvited.

    Thanks,
    Nancy

  • Tammy Vitale

    Instead of tieing up the head hamster and sitting her in the corner, I can just hit delete: no spam, no head hamster. Oh, much better metaphor! Awesome metaphor. LOVE the way your mind works!

  • Irene

    Wow, what a simple way to explain but it is so true (unfortunately!). Thanks again for the wise words.

  • Ariff

    Wow. That’s a cool metaphor for thoughts. Never thought about it that way.

  • Angela

    I get rid of my mind spam by meditating on the breath! Thoughts come up … my mind wanders off … I notice … and return my focus to the breath! It doesn’t matter how many mind spams I have during my practice – it’s a great way to bring peace to your mind and body. And you don’t have to be buddhist to get the benefits! Check out anything by Jon Kabat-Zinn or Jack Kornfield from the local library – or see if you can find a local meditation group. I highly recommend it. I used to think that meditation was all about blocking or ‘deleting’ thoughts but it isn’t. Simply refocusing on the breath each time you’re mind wanders off, over time, brings profound benefits. I really notice how ‘off’ I can feel if I skip my practice even when I sometimes don’t feel like it’s doing anything when I’m doing it.

  • Emily

    ha! i was totally entering http://www.101reasonsyou’reamoron.com as I read this!

    I often find myself getting into arguments or battles with my thoughts trying to get rid of them and the idea of deleting them, even knowing that more will come again, seems a much more peaceful way to move past them.

    Thanks, Christine!

  • Mary@GoodlifeZen

    Lovely post! It made me smile.

    I found your remark about affirmations interesting. It has always seemed to me that they roll off like water off a greasy plate if the belief (or mindspam) behind it hasn’t been addressed first.

    I’m wondering whether ‘deleting’ thoughts (while it’s great creative idea to link thoughts to spam!) might be taken by some as ‘getting rid’ of thoughts. Unfortunately unwanted thoughts can have a way of pushing back!

    I find it more useful to ‘let go’ of thoughts. That mode has a tinge more kindness, as well as more acceptance. Thoughts then tend to shrivel up, instead of coming back and clamoring for more attention.

    I enjoy visiting this blog: lovely content and beautiful writing!
    cheers
    Mary

  • katherineME

    a trick of the mind for me involves “hope”. i view hope as a good thing to have. however, one can hold space in ones heart and mind for hope and have spam come and fill up that space in the name of hope. ie; i was hoping for a relationship to get through a tough stuck spot. i endored a lot of obvious spam…but some were too tempting to ignore and i got scammed. when my mind and heart are quiet, i can see the writing on the wall how the universe or LOA was at work to end this relationship for something more rich I was truly hoping for. i was hoping it was with that person, but, that just was not possible. that is my weak spot and any spam that says it will fix that for me is sometimes hard to resist.
    i think i have tried enough scams of spam to convince myself that “this relationship is over”…until the next money-back garantee-all-new-and-improved spam comes along? Ugh! it’s that hope thing that i have a really hard time with.

  • Meg

    Brilliant Christine! Thanks for the reminder that we have choice in what we do with our thoughts.

    I recently adopted a mantra for when the voices of doubt come marching in: “…thought happens….” 🙂

    It helps me not take the thoughts or myself too seriously.

  • Irene

    Good morning Christine,
    I love it. It is true. Most of the time I do not delete my thought spam. I will try it out today. It is a great way to look at different processes and the response to it. It is a great image to see a quiet mind free of traffic thoughts.

  • bonni

    I love the metaphor here, and I get and appreciate the greater message (just wanted to make that clear ;)).

    But you don’t have to ignore spam (as in, actual email spam). You can report it through a free service such as spamcop.net if you’re so inclined, and that can help to stem the tide just a teeny bit.

    I’m not sure if there’s a metaphysical metaphor in there, other than when something/someone is really bugging me, sometimes I do “report it” to whatever authority there is in the universe, and then I let go and forget it. Many, many times, I’ve had the great satisfaction of learning/seeing people brought to perfect karmic justice in ways that amaze and delight me.

    I’m not a vengeful person, but in my reality/universe, it does help sometimes to make a report to the Cosmic Sysadmin.

    Which reminds me of a joke. What’s the difference between a sysadmin and God? God doesn’t think he’s a sysadmin… (Maybe you have to be a geek to get it, but there you go.)

    🙂 Stream of consciousness blog commenting. Very pleasant (at least for me; thanks for giving me the opportunity).

  • Mindful Mimi

    Christine,
    We all suffer from mind-spam. I find it very difficult to ‘stop thinking’. I have read Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The power of now’ and have read that I am not my mind. But I haven’t found out the total me yet because my mind is still the director of my movie 😉
    Here is an excerpt of Practicing the Power of Now:

    “”The greatest obstacle to experiencing the reality of your connectedness is identification with your mind, which causes thought to become compulsive. Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don’t realize this because almost everybody is suffering from it, so it is considered normal. This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding that realm of inner stillness that is inseparable from Being. It also creates a false mind-made self that casts a shadow of fear and suffering.
    Identification with your mind creates an opaque screen of concepts, labels, images, words, judgments, and definitions that blocks all true relationship. It comes between you and yourself, between you and your fellow man and woman, between you and nature, between you and God. It is this screen of thought that creates the illusion of separateness, the illusion that there is you and a totally separate “other.” You then forget the essential fact that, underneath the level of physical appearances and separate forms, you are one with all that is.
    The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. To put it more accurately, it is not so much that you use your mind wrongly — you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you. This is the disease. You believe that you are your mind. This is the delusion. The instrument has taken you over.
    It’s almost as if you were possessed without knowing it, and so you take the possessing entity to be yourself.

    The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not the possessing entity — the thinker. Knowing this enables you to observe the entity. The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated.

    You then begin to realize that there is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny aspect of that intelligence. You also realize that all the things that truly matter — beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace — arise from beyond the mind.
    You begin to awaken.””

    From Practicing The Power of Now, copyright 1999 by Eckhart Tolle.

  • Leslie

    This is great, Christine! How do you do it? How do you come up with these amazing metaphors for classic behaviors of the human mind? I love it. Great tool to add to the repetoire. Click!

  • Linda

    I found that having the same thought about something always led me to depression, like taking the same train driven by the same conducter and getting off at the same station each time. I had to train myself to not even let the train leave the station. Which I guess is just another way of pushing the delete button.

  • Peter

    Actually, clicking “delete” is highly ineffective in situations like this. You need help from a specialized piece of “software”. You need an “antivirus”:
    There are people working on one:
    http://pantskicker.com/antivirus-for-your-mind/

  • pati

    Hi Christine,

    Your timing is unbelievable. How did you know I had a conversation I need to delete? (I’m assuming conversation can = e-mail/spam).

    Great advice. Thank you!

    Pati

  • Charlotte B. DeMolay

    Awesome! I think females are especially prone to mind-spam. I can put my mind into “computer-mode” when I’m working..I’m now going to try this while self-deprecating! I’m gonna push that mental delete button until my “mind-spam filter” catches on and never lets it hit my consciousness.

  • Tim

    Spam is not so bad… see http://www.spam-poetry.com 🙂

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