I woke this morning feeling crap. I was filled with doubt. My life seemed a struggle. I live on my own. I’m 54. I’m still in rented accommodation. I have my own business and the buck stops with me. It felt a struggle this morning. I had doubts about my relationship, my real purpose in life, the fact my parents are ageing, I miss having my children around… Yeah all of that in the space of a few minutes as I lay in bed coming to from a night of tossing and turning…the menopause dance of duvet on, duvet off. All of these thoughts seemed serious to me, they felt like something to take seriously, to mull over, to give meaning to. They felt important.
Why is it we believe the thinking in our head? Why do we take it so seriously? We have around 60,000+ thoughts a day. It’s this thinking that creates our experience of life. Our thinking is not who we are. It’s random, neutral and not something we have any control over UNTIL we get involved!
We make fact out of something that is inherently not fact. Talk about fake news! And that’s the wonderful messed up craziness of being human! When we get to see this deeply and truly it has profound implications for our life. Life gets easier. Life becomes lighter. We see life as our playground not something to be endured. This understanding sets us free.
My opening paragraph was pretty much my life. In the past that’s how my day would have panned out. Starting with some pretty rubbish thinking and ending up in a low place with my very own pity party at how bad not only my life was but how bad I was. I was so caught up in my own dramas in my life. Groundhog day.
Let me tell you something my lovely, we’ve innocently believed that our experience of life comes at us from the outside. It’s an innocent misunderstanding. We’ve believed that it is our circumstances that create our experience of life and not our thinking. Not so.
I came to see this as truth and I cried with relief. My thoughts, like yours, are transient. They are also neutral. It’s only ever the meaning we give those thoughts that creates heaven or hell for ourselves in any moment.
Here’s something benign to give you an example? I used to believe that the weather was responsible for my happiness. I believed the weather could control my enjoyment of a day. I would plead with the sun to shine so that a day out would be perfect, the way I had created it in my mind. The sun had to shine or the day would be ruined. My focus was on what would go wrong if it rained. I wasted so much time and energy and missed the little joys and pleasure all around me as I was looking outside of myself to create my feelings. I was handing over my experience of life to an outside force. The weather!
What about something with a bit more meaning? A relationship. Someone says something unpleasant/hurtful/mean/angry/resentful/nasty to you. You can take it any number of ways. You can brush it off and realise that they’ve got caught up in their own thinking and are feeling pretty low about something, they’re in pain and the only way they know how to deal with it is to push it out of themselves and on to someone else….YOU in this instance. You think nothing further about it even if they really seem to mean the words coming out of their mouth. Or you take it personally and deeply. You make it mean something about you. You believe that what they are saying must be true. You then begin to embroider what they’ve said and build your beliefs about yourself around that. You look for all the other instances where what they are saying is TRUE…expect of course it’s not. It is only ever your thinking that’s creating how you’re feeling.
“Thought, like the rudder of a ship, steers us to the safety of open water or to the doom of rocky shores.” – Sydney Banks
Our personal thinking is like the weather, clouds passing in the sky. Some we latch on to and others we literally don’t give a second thought to. Some thoughts we hang on to and walk around with all day (or year), a heavy black cloud above us.
Is it truth or is it thought?
I’ve learned to notice my thinking using my feelings as a guide, my internal barometer if you like. Sometimes I’ll say to myself that I’ve noticed the feeling and the thinking and am just not going to engage with it. Sometimes that can take a while, a bit of negotiating because sometimes, just sometimes the negative thinking is rather mesmerising!
I’ve got a shortcut now, I simply do an internal eye roll and move on not giving a second thought to the crappy unreliable thinking that’s not informing me of anything that’s true. And you know, the joy in freeing myself from my thinking is that I’ve more space for inspiration, for fresh new thoughts to rise to the surface. It’s quieter in my head these days and even when it’s not and I get caught up again I know that it’ll pass because that’s what thoughts do when we decide not to become entangled with them.