Midlife Mud & Metacognition

“I have the patience to wait until my mud settles and my water is clear.”

Davidji on Insight Timer

Metacognition was one of two vocabulary words I’d teach my second- and third-graders the first week of school. The other word was persevere. These words established the norms for our classroom. Thinking about one’s thinking — and not giving up — set the stage for each year of learning.

Using the Frayer model for learning new vocabulary, young students would write examples and non-examples of metacognition. Their examples included “explaining how you got the answer to a (math) story problem.” Non-examples included “copying your answer from somebody.” One of my favorite examples was “trying to explain to (the school principal) what you were thinking when you hit (a classmate).”

A book of advice from third-graders to the president of the United States included this gem: “Always remember to show your work and explain your thinking!”

Metacognition is critical when trying to sift through the sediment that mucks up our lives. Understanding our thinking — what we’re telling ourselves, what we’re really feeling, and our motivations — is not an easy or quick task. Meditation and journaling are tools that can help us tap into the mother lode of subconscious connections that inform our choices and actions. Meditation, with its requisite stillness, is difficult for me. The free guided meditations on Insight Timer are an aid I use (sometimes with unexpected results), and I recently added the guided meditations of Davidji to my morning practice.

Thinking about our own thinking, and challenging or questioning those thoughts, requires patience and commitment and effort. Mud takes a while to settle. Clarity can be elusive, especially when we filter our thoughts through past hurts and future predictions.

“I agree that I cannot step into the past to change it. I agree that I cannot step into the future to force it.”

Davidji on Insight Timer

In giving myself permission to live an authentic life, I understand that copying someone else’s answer to living will only cheat me of the life that’s right for me. Our authentic life is on the other side of a deep understanding of who we are, what we want, and why. Thinking about my thinking revealed patterns of self-sabotage and self-critical storytelling that I’m still trying to address. It’s a journey. One I’ll continue to navigate even as I start my “new” life in Portugal. The silt, sand, and soil of my 62 years haven’t settled yet. There will always be some sudden disturbance that stirs up our sediment, but being mindful of our thinking aids the settling. Our water runs clearer as it flows down rocky streams of thought into a pool of understanding.

Mantra for a midlife goddess.

Source: Case Kenney on Instagram

I am not a patient person. I want my answers yesterday. I want clarity and understanding now. But, as with anything worth doing, thinking about your thinking takes time. Sifting through your thoughts as you slog through the mud in your mind can be messy, painful, dirty work. You will stumble, backtrack, and lose your way. Searching for clear waters takes time and perseverance. Examining your thought processes can reveal and silence the asshole voice in your head, and lead to a newfound sense of peace and self-awareness. Metacognition can set the stage for the most important learning of all. Learning to be yourself.

“I give myself permission to show up right now as my best, most brilliant, most creative expression of myself.”

Davidji on Insight Timer

Unpacking Your Thinking Can Reveal:

  • Emotional fault lines that trip up your thoughts.
  • Negative influences from a voice that doesn’t serve you.
  • Fear masquerading as fact.
  • Distorted perception from buried trauma.
  • Default thinking that needs to be reset.

What about you? What discoveries have you made by unpacking your thinking?


Thank you to blogger Wynne of Surprised by Joy for having a positive impact on my thinking.


All images are my own, except as noted.

The Hot Goddess

Instagram: retired_rewired_inspired


If you enjoyed this please remember to Share, Like, Follow, Comment, Subscribe. (This is my “call to action” I’m supposed to include in every post. Thanks so much for your support!) ❤

37 comments

  1. Meditation and journaling was more like mental ranting and pounding the keyboard in the beginning. Now it’s gardening and light blogging. There is a lot less dwelling. I think that is progress. That is until the mud gets stirred up again.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Wow, what a powerful post, Natalie. Starting with even contemplating introducing the words – and actions of – metacognition and persevere to 2nd and 3rd graders! Amazing. I wish I’d done that with my 2st year university students! 😏 I love everything about this post, especially the wonderful pic of you with President Obama. Perhaps the most useful discovery I’ve made from unpacking my thinking is the sad truth that I can’t make everything right for everyone. I need to concentrate on what’s within my abilities and “power”.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I struggle with patience too, and inner calm. Surprise! Lol

    But there is something to be said about internal quiet. I found ways to reflect and nudge myself away from the frazzled, overwhelmed state of my mind. Yoga/fitness is almost like, or similar to meditation (which is difficult for me, all this focusing on breathing to calm my overstimulated mind) and the spiritual rituals of tarot or I Ching also help. I don’t do it as often as so should, but I do it often enough to at least re-center myself.

    Great post, as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes to yoga and spiritual rituals! Anything that can calm my mind just a bit is helpful. I don’t do anything as often as I should, LOL, so I’ve just stopped shoulding myself. Thank you for commenting, Claudette! 💜

      Like

  4. Such a thought provoking post Natalie! I like how you phrased it “thinking about my thinking” as a way to tap into what I’m telling myself and why. I’ve tried meditation in the past with luke-warm results. I was always so fidgety and like you I am not a patient person! But it did seem to make me feel more calm throughout the day. Now that my time is all my own, I should give it another try. Thanks!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sharon, thank you so much! I am sooo fidgety too. My meditation practice is often a hot mess, but it does bring calmness despite my lack of physical and mental stillness. It is what it is, right? Thanks so much for commenting 💕!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hot Goddess, what an important topic. I completely agree that thinking about what you’re thinking about is critical. Like you, I have also found guided meditations to be very valuable in helping me recognize some of my “murky” stuff! Such great advice in this article. Thanks for encouraging me to “unpack my thinking”! Best Wishes and have a great weekend! Leigh

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great shot of you and President Obama! Love this post. Yes, to metacognition! Reflecting on your thinking is so powerful. Some people NEVER get there and spend their whole lives just blindly reacting without pausing to ask why they feel and think the way they do. That used to be me, when I was much younger. Teaching kids to do this early in life? Amazing. I wish someone had taught me how to do this when I was wee. Way to go, Hot Goddess!

    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so incredibly honored for the shout out at the end of the post. Because 1) it’s from you and you are an amazing, authentic and brave woman 2) it’s in a post that has so much meaningful content about how we can all be like you (see #1) and 3) I can feel your power just growing and growing – exactly as you step out out of your comfort zone to show us all how life is done.

    I bow in complete admiration, respect and honor for you. I hope we meet one day!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this post! First, you sound like such an amazing teacher and it’s no wonder you received an award and met Obama! Second, my sis just introduced me to Insight timer and I love it! And I also love Davidji, I actually saw him at a spirit expo years ago and he was really great. This is such a fabulous post, thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Libby! 💜 I’m happy you love IT too, and I’m going to try to be more social with it, lol 😆 🤦🏾‍♀️. How cool that you saw Davidji. Of course you would know about him, Goddess Extraordinaire! 💫💫💫

      Like

  9. Love that you teach kids metacognition! I didn’t really think too much about metacognition, not sure I even knew that term until a few years ago when I took a pedagogy course and I fell in love with metacognitive teaching strategies.

    And while I may not have known it was metacognition between journaling and therapy I was doing it anyway. By the way, your post made me realize a therapist is pretty much your metacognitive life coach. I think the best tool I learned to help with my thinking was the cognitive behavioral therapy technique, reframing. It has really helped me get a grip on my anxiety. I learned how to think about my automatic thoughts, identify what cognitive distortion they fell into (my go tos are black and white thinking and fortune telling), identify how that type of thinking is not only wrong but unhelpful, then reframe and replace them with more balanced thoughts.

    Anyway, I always love how thought provoking yours and Wynne’s posts are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate you so much! Thank you for adding such rich context! Yes to reframing. I have the same go-tos of fortune telling and b&w thinking. I’m still working on those. You put it so well! Thank you💜💜

      Like

  10. I am NOT good at mediation—still learning to be, “in the moment.” Journaling is extremely helpful for me to look at what I’m thinking about and sift through it for thought patterns that might not be serving me so well….

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I might have been engaged in the act of thinking about thinking for a long time, even though I wasn’t always aware of it. But I’ve learned a new word, metacognition, today. 🙂 And I must say, learning to be myself is an ongoing process. Thanks Natalie for this brilliant post, there are so many takeaways from it.

    Liked by 1 person

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