Why “I Am Not My Thoughts” is a Form of Mental Trickery

It’s a psychological defence mechanism to avoid suffering

Edward John
7 min readMay 30, 2022


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“You are not your mind.”

I remember a yoga teacher saying this to me many years ago.

It didn’t seem to make sense to me at the time. But a couple of years later, I bought Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now. I read it and swallowed the Eckhart Tolle pill wholeheartedly.

You are not your thoughts. You are the consciousness that is aware of your thoughts.

Suddenly, it made perfect sense to me.

But now I realise there is a problem with this concept:

Consciousness is not a thing

I explained this here:

To say that you are only consciousness is to say that you are nothing. Because consciousness is not a thing but is the space in which all things are experienced.

So, I am not the experiences, I am the space which experiences them. But because that is nothing, I am nothing.

Or perhaps I’m looking at this the wrong way?

What if people are not nouns, but verbs?

What if I am not a thing, but a process?

To be a person is to do things, to have experiences. If you don’t do anything or have any experiences, you’re not a person in any real sense of the word. A family sitting by the bed of a person in a coma is upset because their loved one is not part of their life anymore.

“I am consciousness” is psychological trickery.

When people say this, they are playing a mental game with themselves. They feel unable to identify with the thoughts and feelings and fleeting experiences.


Because those experiences are problematic. They are often uncomfortable or painful, and always impermanent…



Edward John

Winnie the Pooh enthusiast. edwardjohnwritesATgmailDOTcom