Thoughts Are Like Itches

the word thoughts on a pin board

In the quiet moments just before sleep, my mind often races with thoughts and ideas. I often get an overwhelming desire to write them down. As I try to put that desire out of my mind, I then fear losing potential insights and revelations these impulses may bring. Then, each time I put my head down on my pillow, more new words come to my head.

These thoughts are like itches, sometimes becoming rattling irritants until I finally choose to do something with them. Scratching them, which entails either discussing them with my wife, or jotting them down in a notebook, is typically how I handle these impulses. But if I simply ignore them, they will bury themselves deep in my subconscious, only to slowly re-emerge on another restless evening. 

The Persistence of Thoughts

Picturing emerging thoughts as itches perfectly captures their persistent nature. As an itch demands to be scratched, our thoughts often compel us to explore and process them. These nagging impulses should not be treated as such a nuisance, however, as inconvenient as they might prove to be. Their persistence highlights the importance of addressing our thoughts, no matter how trivial or fleeting they may seem. In fact, they may hold the key to unlocking new insights.

Having these mental itches simply means you have a creative and thoughtful mind.  Like itches, ignoring them often only serves to exacerbate the underlying urge to interact with them.  We may even find ourselves becoming allergic to our own spontaneous thinking. Unfortunately, this leads to our cognitive powers growing duller by the day. Eventually, we may need to rediscover our ability to think reflexively.

Of course, not all of these bedtime bugaboos will lead to good ideas. Sometimes they are truly impulsive and counterproductive; even then, acknowledging the existence of these thoughts is important to your understanding the state of your mental and emotional health. So, how can addressing, or even nurturing, our mental itches to foster self-discovery and growth?

The Transformative Power of the Unwritten Thought

Writing down our thoughts is essentially translating abstract ideas into a tangible form that can be examined, analyzed, and shared. By committing our thoughts to a tangible form, we provide  opportunities for these ideas to develop and evolve beyond their initial conception. This process allows us to clarify and refine our thoughts, but also share them with others.

Unwritten thoughts hold their own unique power. Even while ephemeral and elusive, they can still impact our lives in meaningful ways. These mental itches can serve as catalysts for change, pushing us to explore new perspectives and challenge our assumptions. Whether we choose to write these thoughts down or simply engage with them mentally, their transformative potential is undeniable.

But you don’t need to be a writer skilled in metaphor and literary tradition to make the most of these thoughts. We are often taught to ignore any thought that doesn’t mesh with our daily obligations. Unfortunately, this is counterproductive, because as human beings we must use our reasoning capacities willingly and often to keep them sharp.

Nurturing Our Mental Itches

To fully harness the power of our thoughts, we must actively engage with them. We can achieve this through journaling or other forms of writing, various methods of meditation, or simply engaging in conversation with others. By fostering an environment that encourages the exploration and development of our thoughts, we enable ourselves and those around us to grow, learn, and evolve along with us.

Because our modern world often demands the majority of our attention and energy, it can be all too easy to dismiss or neglect the thoughts that arise in the quiet moments before sleep. However, recognizing the value and potential of these mental itches is essential for your overall wellbeing. By nurturing our thoughts, whether through writing or other means, we unlock the transformative power of the unwritten thought.

As we continue to explore the depths of our minds, we enable ourselves to bring new light into the world. Perhaps you may seek a therapist or counselor for additional help with certain nagging thoughts you’d rather not write down. Whatever you decide to do about your mental itches, just remember that ignoring them is the worst way to deal with them. Be proactive and examine your thoughts constructively, and you may find yourself soon itch-free and considerably happier and actively involved in directing your own life.

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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