Thoughts are representations, sometimes they point to something in a more concrete way. Your example, is a premonition of a possible outcome, interesting that you chose a poor interaction with a person. Offended is flimsy in terms of being real. Thoughts about planning, how to plug in the toaster are useful. Remembering to get sugar at store is useful. There originate without a self and are registered by the organism, which thoughts come and say "is ME!"I now believe that MOST (a huge majority) of thoughts point to nothing real, nothing helpful, nothing in REALITY. But what about thoughts that do, in fact, POINT to something 'real' (even though the thoughts themselves are, of course, NOT that real thing)? For example, I have a thought that I am going to offend someone if I tell them something - I ignore the thought, tell them, and they run off crying. That thought, "this person will be offended if I say this", was NOT at all reality, but it did point to an aspect of reality. Are these thoughts useful?
Thoughts about self, problems with self, how others think....called self-referential thoughts, cause suffering.
You don't understand until you see clearly that no-self exists at all. That it is a story contained in thought and does not exist in reality. There is no seperate, unique Stephen. There is not a "self" looking for a "no-self".I understand that these types of thoughts, while sometimes somewhat convincing, are themselves THOUGHTS (labels, stories) that have NO EXISTENCE in reality - they are merely a conceptual overlay on reality that do not touch reality in any way, nor can they ever touch reality. These thoughts, like many thoughts, "point to each other and go round and round", often in vicious circles. In a sense, these are the type of anxious thoughts that "my" brain has a habit of producing. I do NOT take them to point to a 'self'.
When you "see" this, it is a recognition and while your thoughts may argue, you will be certain. "Understanding" as you used the word means you can organize thoughts and words in a certain order, not that you really know it.
Things that help seekers are to journal and make notes, summarize what is working for you. Repeat the pointers and exercises, dig deeply and drill all the way through. Meditate on this..use the pointers as contemplations.
You may have had an experience along the lines of....you are laying in bed, it's pretty dark. You look over at a chair, and there is something on it. You have a sense of panic, it looks like a demon animal! You keep looking. Looking. All of a sudden...you see its your sweater you put there. Once you see "sweater" you no longer believe in "demon cat" even though it kind of looks like one. Your senses led you somewhere, thoughts told you "what it is" and feelings were the proof.
So, where are you in all of this? Do you have a separate self in there?