We don’t have to believe everything we think!
There is your old way of responding to unwanted thoughts: stress, worry, and anxiety; just like responding to the daily news, and there is another way, seeing thoughts for what they really are: temporary illusions appearing as solid tangible objects, or as solid obstacles. We normally get more of what we we focus our attention on. Our attention is what keeps the story alive. That is all that is happening. Skeptical about it? ? Take your time, pay attention to what you are paying attention to.
Carry on a couple of experiments, and see what happens.
Last Monday morning, 7 am, the vibrant crowd at the coffee-shop, the smoky aroma of freshly ground coffee beans, and the warmth of the sunrise inspired me to welcome life with opened arms. Sitting down; next to a big window there was a pensive twenty something year old male, our eyes momentarily met as we looked around the coffee-shop, and I imagined he was feeling lonely, sad, and perhaps suicidal. Yes, I said that I imagined, because I never asked him what was going in his mind at the moment. Instead, I remembered that when I was 6 years old; I had a moment of confusion, sadness, and impotence, when a 25 year old individual predicted my future, and innocently I believed her; because I was only a child, and I didn’t know any better; at that time in my life.
This is what happened
Last week; I was working on an article for my blog, and a thought that I didn’t even know I was having said: “Why are you doing this? Do you really think anybody is going to take the time to read anything you write?” A flood of mental images and the corresponding feelings silently screamed: “Hide, stay down, give up already!” Without warning; the brain showed me the mental images from that past event, and momentarily I was transported back in time.
This is what I remembered: She wore a white and blue striped shirt, and blue jeans, her legs crossed, smoking a cigarette, and sipping coffee, she pointed her right index finger at the 6 year old boy and asked: “Thing, what do you want to be when you grow-up?” Without thinking the boy blurted out “I want to write books and have many shoes.” She laughed out loud, stood up, and while lighting another cigarette, she said “You better get those stupid ideas out of your head. You are retarded, you are insignificant. Nobody would want to read anything you write.” The boy ran out of the room, and the young woman went on smoking her cigarette, and nothing else seemed to have happened at that moment.
That memory was all I needed to quit my writing project at that moment. Like many times before, this discouraging memory was followed by a chain of self-inflicted insults, and other familiar put-downs. As I focused my attention on the memory, I forgot about writing, or pursuing my heart’s desire. However, what I noticed this time; is that even though these insults appeared to be actual things coming from the external world, or actual things that lived inside of me; these thoughts were not a part of me, and they don’t live inside of me. They are thoughts, ideas, memories from a painful childhood experience; that is temporarily brought back to life by the creative power of thought. And, just like with any other thought, I can decide if I give my attention to it, or not. That is possible because I am the one who decides where my attention goes to. And, that applies to you too, you decide where your attention goes to.
Thought, Imagination, and other things…
That memory: the narrative, the feelings, and the mental images of the abuser is a temporary thought that shows up from time to time. Yes, the same memory has visited me thousands of times before, and it created havoc in my mental daily life, but I have always survived it. As I see it as thought in the form of a memory; I have learned to accept its presence the same way that I accept the clouds, the wind or the rain. They always show-up, but they don’t mean anything about me, or my life situation. Today, there is NO need to fear the abuser; she is out of my life now, and her memory only exists in my imagination. Also, there is no need to focus on the hurt from the put-downs; they are also made-up of the energy we call thought, and those put-downs don’t mean anything about me, or my life situation today. Those put-downs are illusory, they exist one way (they are mental images) but they appear to exist in another way: they appear as real facts, or as tangible solid objects, or as real obstacles.
As I write this; another thought (idea, mental suggestion) came up: “Thought creates temporary; illusory experiences of each moment, therefore the only thing I am always experiencing is the energy we call Thought. The only thing distracting me from the task at hand, is that thought that I am focusing my attention on.
I know, and I hope you also know; that thoughts (ideas) can’t physically harm us, or mess us-up. I also know by personal experience; that Intrusive Automatic Thoughts appear as real, and they can make us feel messed-up, but they can’t physically mess us-up, or do anything to harm us. I repeat, thoughts can make us feel messed-up, but they can’t mess-us up.
You see, Thoughts are constantly changing. Thought just creates a temporary, illusory experience of each moment. I am suggesting that thoughts are fickle, that thoughts, like perceptions, are not always telling us the truth. In other words, I am saying: You don’t have to believe everything you think. – Does this make sense? Put it to the test!
This means there is another way to relate to thoughts and feelings. No need to fear the memories, or other distracting thoughts; because if I don’t give them my attention; they quietly leave and are replaced by other thoughts. You see; all thoughts arrive with a sense of urgency and importance, when we give them our attention they become the center of our life. When we don’t give them our attention; they pass-on and go back to where they came from. Are you aware that all thoughts are temporary, and that our attention gives them life? If you are willing to: Take your time and see if this is true in your personal experience.
Yes, a thought can make us feel hurt, but it can’t physically hurt us. Again, a thought can make us feel messed-up, but it can’t actually mess-us up. Since it is a temporary illusion (an illusion can’t scratch you), it will pass, and just like a scary movie; as soon as it passes; we are back to normal, we feel safe, and all is well. That is what I call: Another Way of relating to Thoughts, and finding a new life full of endless possibilities.
In my experience, I temporarily gave my attention to that paralyzing thought, and then I woke up and decided to give my attention to completing this article, and showing my work. Is there anything you would love to create; and keep postponing? What would need to happen for you to return to center, and take the next step?
May you also wake up, find another way of relating to the thoughts that cross your mind, and find a life of endless possibilities.
As you find another way to relate and respond to that thought you are focusing on; you will find your way home: a place where you will feel grateful to be; and in which you will spend more time in a state of peaceful confidence.
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