Freedom from Thoughts of Violence by Separating Who We Are from What We Think #197

Freedom from Thoughts of Violence By Separating Who We Are from What We Think #197

How do we separate what we think about from who we are and why is this beneficial for helping us feel good about ourselves, about the people around us?

Thank you for reading about day 197 of Happier People Podcast and I hope you enjoy it!

Freedom from Thoughts of Violence by Separating Who We Are from What We Think #197

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This helps me a lot, especially when I have thoughts come up that I don’t like, for example, a thought of violence.

I don’t like those thoughts and for years I had lots of thoughts of violence, but when I had a thought of violence, I believed that that thought reflected on who I was, and when I see that the thoughts I have are not a reflection of who I am, then there is nothing to feel bad about. Not only that, the thoughts I have are an opportunity to help and connect with other people.

Last night, I had a thought of violence in bed and I went into that old habit of actually entertaining it and thinking about it a bit, and then I felt ashamed and that was the cycle that I used to go through.

When I was sitting in the classroom in high school that was pretty much what I did all day off and on throughout high school. I’d think some thought of violence, I’d entertain it, like, “Yeah. That’s more interesting than this class,” and then I would feel bad about it like I’m some awful person.

Freedom from Thoughts of Violence By Separating Who We Are from What We Think

There are a few things that are important to know about this.

First, thoughts are impersonal.

In other words, the thoughts we have are not related to who we are.

Thoughts often happen in groups or in situations.

For example, in a crowd of people, many members of the crowd often will be having the same kinds of thoughts. Thoughts are often interpersonal, which means if I’m having a thought about something it’s likely the people around me, the people connected to me, are also having a similar thought, not always at the same time, not always in the exact same context.

If you have ever randomly had someone you have thought about sending you a message or give you a call… I heard a story about this that provided really good evidence for it.

A friend was talking and he was thinking about someone he hadn’t talked to in years that he missed, and they suddenly sent him a message right after he had been thinking about them a lot.

That is the nature of our thoughts.

We have some kind of connection that is beyond just the body. We have some kind of telepathic or soul connection, whatever you want to call it, and our thoughts, therefore, are not just personal, they are not just going on in our heads.

Now, they may look different from one person to another.

For example, I may have a thought of perpetrating violence while a person I’m around may have a fear of being the victim of violence when really these two thoughts are very similar, they are both fear of separation based thoughts.

Freedom from Thoughts of Violence By Separating Who We Are from What We Think

Madeleine: Hi, Daddy.

Jerry Banfield: Hi, Daughter.

In this way, we often are thinking about the exact same things as the people around us, but what makes it difficult is that we don’t take ownership of our thoughts and we are afraid lots of times to share our thoughts.

For example, when I used to think about violence a lot, I very rarely told anyone about it and I felt ashamed of it, and then I hated the thoughts so much that every time they came up I’d get into this big debate.

“Well, you’re a disgusting person for thinking that.”

What I didn’t realize is how many other people around me were feeling and thinking the same way and doing the same thing and keeping it to themselves.

Madeleine: Hi, Daddy.

Jerry Banfield: Hi, Daughter.

The more we talk and connect with each other about these things, we see that we have a lot in common.

We see that the person thinking of committing violence and the person being afraid of being a victim are having a very similar, and one would argue, the same thought just distributed on each side of the spectrum.

I’ve noticed that in talking with others that others often have mostly fear of violence thoughts where I used to have lots of those too, and I realized if you are afraid of a person committing violence against you, then you are not trusting them.

You are making them into some kind of perpetrator, and then when they are having the perpetrator thought, it’s really something you are doing together and this helps us connect.

Freedom from Thoughts of Violence By Separating Who We Are from What We Think

Madeleine: I see you, Daddy.

Jerry Banfield: I see you, Daughter.

This helps us connect.

This helps us relate to each other when we see the thoughts we are having are often very interconnected and this means the thoughts we have are nothing personal.

It’s not something I’m doing and it’s not something we need to then get some kind of help to erase the thought or numb the thought.

We don’t need medication because we have thoughts we don’t like.

The thoughts we don’t like are an opportunity to connect.

They are an opportunity to share and talk with each other, and a lot of us have thoughts we don’t like because we are not sharing with each other, we are not connecting with each other and these thoughts are intended to motivate us to open our hearts, to reach out, to say, “Look, I need help.”

But a lot of us are too scared to do that because we are in a world where almost everyone is doing the same thing.

There is this myth that everyone else is somehow going around thinking about flowers and daisies, dogs running in fields, and beautiful babies being born and growing up and having perfect lives.

When the truth to me seems more like a lot of us have thoughts of separation whether it’s in the form of fear of something bad happening to us or some kind of fear of perpetrating something bad on something else. Once we see that almost everyone has some degree of this, then we are free to open up and share about it.

I find personally it’s most powerful when I can connect with someone and share the exact nature of the thought, to tell someone exactly what the thought looked like.

If you want to see that thoughts are impersonal, just share the thought with someone else in its details and you will often see that the person you shared with has similar thoughts or understands it from the other side.

Freedom from Thoughts of Violence By Separating Who We Are from What We Think

Now, of course, if you are thinking some very violent thought, I don’t recommend just spewing that out to everyone everywhere.

This is why we need deep trusting relationships with other people. We need people we can really tell the truth to and not the watered down version.

What I have given you is more of a generic version, which for better or worse, is most appropriate in a kind of general audience context, but I’m also sharing this to let you know that I share much more specifically with people on a one-to-one basis.

I have a book called Speaker Meeting 2017 where I go in and share in a lot more detail with you. Anyone who wants to buy the book or read the book on Kindle, I share in a ton more detail because I think it’s critical we share our thoughts with each other because then we see our thoughts are nothing personal.

Our thoughts are the same kinds of thoughts everyone else has in one form or another, and then we see that there aren’t really bad people. We have this myth that there are horrible bad people and I think that there are people who are loving and loved, and connected with others, and there are people who aren’t.

Essentially, there are people whom we have left out of our hearts, our minds and our thoughts, and people who are scared to reach out and connect with others.

In my opinion, if we want to prevent the next incident of mass violence, the solution is that we share our uncomfortable truths, that we share the thoughts we don’t like.

Sometimes when I have a thought of violence come through me, my body now literally shudders. The thought is so abrasive, and yet I find it’s very important I share that thought, and I did.

The thought I’m thinking of I shared the exact…

Madeleine: Are you almost done, Dad?

Jerry Banfield: I am almost done, sweet love.

Freedom from Thoughts of Violence By Separating Who We Are from What We Think

I shared the exact thought with my mother in every detail that I had it, and then I see the thought is something that’s helpful, that’s useful. It gave me an opportunity to be vulnerable and connect with my mother.

It gave my mother the opportunity to help her son, to say that she has experienced lots of the same kinds of things before and that’s normal.

I heard a comedy routine last night and it bothered me because it’s from that mindset of there are these horrible psychos out there.

They are not.

The people that are doing the very worst things are people just like us that need to be loved, that need to connect, and I would argue the people often who are doing the worst things feel horrible about the thoughts they are having so much, and are so afraid to talk about those thoughts, that then it actually encourages the bad behavior.

You see, the safer I feel to share any thought I have, the less likely it is I am to have undesirable thoughts.

It sounds like a complete paradox.

“Do you mean the more willing I am to talk about what I think, the less often I will have thoughts I don’t want to talk about?”


That’s how we see the thoughts are impersonal because when we start sharing and talking about our thoughts, then the nature of our thoughts significantly changes, and that means it’s nothing personal, it means whatever I’m thinking about is nothing specific to me.

Madeleine: Hi, Daddy.

Jerry Banfield: Hi, Daughter.

Yeah. I’m almost done. Come here, big girl.

Alright, Madeleine Elizabeth, my daughter, has been listening to this.

I said, “Will you be quiet while I make the video?”

She said, “Yes. I’ll be quiet while you make the video.”

So, thank you, sweet love.

Ten-eleven minutes of daddy going on and on and on.

Freedom from Thoughts of Violence By Separating Who We Are from What We Think

We have shared this because we love you.

I know how painful it is to have thoughts that are awful to be alone with and I’m grateful I have found so many people I felt safe sharing those thoughts with, and now I don’t have thoughts like that very often.

Madeleine: I’ll type after Daddy.

Jerry Banfield: You want to type afterward?

I see that the thoughts are nothing personal.

In fact, I see that my daughter, at 3 years old, has lots of thoughts about hating people and just the same kind of thoughts that I essentially grew up with and she is not a bad person for thinking that she wants to hit someone.

You see, it’s normal.

It’s nothing personal.

These are opportunities to connect with each other.

These are the opportunities we have to love each other and this is the best I can see to contribute.

What can I do to stop the next incident of mass violence?

What can I do to stop telling people or to stop the next person from hurting themselves or someone else?

It is to share that, “Hey, I’ve thought about that a lot too,” and I’m grateful that I don’t think much about that today because I’ve talked about how much I’ve thought about it with others and that when I do think about it today, I do share about it and I share as specifically as possible with the right person.

We are not meant to just shower our worst thoughts on everyone, but all of us when we reach out for help, we get to really know people.

All of us have someone in our lives we can really talk to.

Either that or we need to move.

Freedom from Thoughts of Violence By Separating Who We Are from What We Think

Madeleine: I want to type Daddy.

Jerry Banfield: You want to type? All right. Well, we can hit the piano.

Well, thank you very much for listening to this. I hope this is really helpful.

Madeleine: Are you almost done?

Jerry Banfield: Yes. Almost done.

If you have struggled with thoughts you don’t like, thoughts of violence and fear of violence –because I believe these are the main thoughts people don’t like — or even if they are not violence, fear of loss or losing or whatever it is, I hope this is helpful for you today.

I have been thinking about this a lot this morning and I try to make every thought I don’t like a good opportunity to connect.

So, I love you, you are awesome.

Thanks for watching or listening to this and we are done now.

Madeleine: Are you almost done?

Jerry Banfield: We are done.

Madeleine: Yeah?

Jerry Banfield: Yeah.

I hope you have a wonderful day today and that this day 197 of Happier People Podcast was helpful.


Jerry Banfield

Edits from video transcript by Michel Gerard at