Conventional thoughts are filled with judgments and assessments; they compare and contrast, they box and they file. These thoughts are designed to keep us safe. They are designed to make sure that we are smarter, tougher, more valuable and indispensible than the next person so that we will survive the pecking order.
Some of these thoughts beat us up and whip us for not being good enough, but I believe that they too, are trying to make us better, faster and stronger, so that we will survive. I believe that many of our thoughts are not original or our own. Some thoughts were planted by our family members, teachers, siblings and advertising. Some of them have been hanging out in the collective ethers of thoughts that have been flying around the universe and in our brains since the beginning of language.
I like to think of all those thoughts as FIRST thoughts. The ones that fly in and out like asteroids. I believe that they are neutral and have no power, (this is especially dedicated to you linguistic enthusiasts that believe in the law of attraction and the use of thought as a manifesting power.) I believe that the initial thought that flies in our heads has no power in and of itself. It’s the thought that we think about that first thought that has the power. That’s what my friend Karl and I call, second thought. It’s the thought about the thought. This one we have control over.
For instance, I've see this thought fly in and I recognize it and have thought it was mine. “I am not good enough.” It flies into my head and whizzes through my mind like that asteroid. I declare this as a neutral thought. Maybe it got activated when I couldn’t solve a math problem or figure out how to handle a conundrum. Maybe the circumstances were a set up for a thought, and I even think that I thought it, but it doesn’t mean that it was my thought, that it’s true or that it has power.
So, now what?
My second thought can be-
Denial “No I’m not.”
Agreement “Yes, I suck.”
Argument “well, sometimes I’m slow, but that doesn’t mean you have to be mean to me.”
I can ignore it, and then feel weirdly depressed because some part of it burned particles in me anyway.
In Huna philosphy, (ancient Hawaiian mysticism mixed with western psychology) we say to the thought, "thank you, I love you." Even if we don't mean it. It allows the thought to exist while dismantling negative engagement and therefore unwanted power.
For each response, there is an energy created, resistance, allowing, arguing, or the energy to not see it. To level-up my awareness, I have to challenge these thoughts. Some of them were formed before I could walk, some were given to me and repeat like a skipped record and some of them are so old that they smell like a dirty diaper and truly need to be changed. So, what to do?
Byron Katie, a cutting edge new thought leader asks us to question these thoughts.
IS IT TRUE?
CAN YOU ABSOLUTELY KNOW IT’S TRUE?
HOW DO YOU REACT? WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BELIEVE THAT THOUGHT?
WHO WOULD YOU BE WITHOUT THE THOUGHT?
Answering these questions can leave an interesting gap in our belief systems. If we want to be free of unnecessary suffering, it is helpful to question our beliefs. If we decide to change our behaviors as a result of the new thought, then, we must be prepared to change the way those behaviors link with the rest of our lives.
That’s not always easy, as we then may have to face different types of change or losses. For instance, if a person was an alcoholic, and they decide after much thought that they want recovery, then their life, their social life, their relational dynamics will change. Giving up the alcohol was intended to stop one type of suffering, but a new level of challenge may ensue. That doesn’t mean we don’t give up the alcohol, it means we need to continue to untangle the way our protective mechanisms have caused a traffic jam of struggle in our lives. It's one of the many reasons people don't want to change thoughts, it is linked with their lives. It doesn't feel simple and it threatens safety. However, most of the time, there is not a NO PAIN option. We choose some discomfort now, or put it off on the lay away plan and experience a lot of pain later. I say that it is all worth facing and untangling.
In (CBT) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, patients are taught to see that our…
Beliefs give us our thoughts
Our thoughts give us our feelings
Our feelings give us our behavior
If we don't like the way we are feeling our behaving, we can look to the original thoughts and interpretations that gave us those feelings. When the thoughts fly in, we can challenge them. Change the dirty diaper, so to speak. Now sometimes we may like our old smelly thoughts. They can be comforting and somehow we believe that they keep us safe. It may look something like this…
“If I’m not good enough, then I won’t express myself and if I don’t express myself, then no one else will see that I’m not good enough either, then I will be safe.”
This thought system may have worked at some point in our lives, but when truly challenged it, it looks like the protection has created a new problem, threatening our safety. Perhaps we don’t put ourselves out there and get work and then don’t make enough money to take care of our basic needs, health, etc. This threatens safety in a whole new way.
In my belief system, we are all whole and complete and it is impossible for any of us not to be enough. According to science, each human being is made of about 100 trillion cells and each cell is made of about 100 trillion atoms and each atom is made of 99.9999999% space and about 0.0000001% matter.
The first law of thermodynamics states that, “energy can neither be created, nor destroyed, only transformed.” So, if each of my cells and atoms are made of the same energy particles as the rest of the universe and if I believe that our greatest physicists are accurate in this law, then it is physically impossible for us to ‘not be enough.’
This thought would relax me and I would be open to allowing the whole nature of me, the whole kit and kaboodle, exist and I would express the unique part of infinity that is supposed to come through me. I would be impervious to the judgments of others that attacked my core and would hear them as ways to simply learn and grow and become a finer version of myself. I would restore my thinking to organic thoughts, the thoughts that flow through the soil of the free will in my mind that allows me to choose my beliefs, and therefore my feelings and behaviors.
This requires choice and consciousness. It may threaten my ego, my beliefs, my friendships and even my profession. However, just because we have done or thought something for long periods of time doesn’t make it true, static or unchangeable. That’s the beauty of evolution. We can evolve our world by changing our conventional thoughts to more organic versions.
Now, this metaphor may not be perfect, but hey, it was enough for today.
Would you like to help me make this a better metaphor or share your thoughts?