Warning/ Your Thoughts Are Your Worst Enemy

We know thoughts crop up out of nowhere. Some are a nuisance, scaring us do something we planned or causing guilt over something we did long ago. We put up with them, but maybe they’re not just a nuisance. Maybe they are detrimental to our well-being.

When I was younger, I wasn’t able to visualize myself getting any older than 45 years of age. That was the age I had set a goal to have a one-woman show of my artwork in New York City. 

The future was beyond my imagination.

My artwork was the only reason I had to feel worthy and enjoy living. I was unhappy in my marriage and struggling to find contentment. I cried every night to release pain and sorrow.

Finally, without a reason to go on living, I let go of holding on to my dilemma and sought help. My husband told me we couldn’t afford a psychologist, but I surprised myself by responding, “I can’t afford not to go.” It was the first time I had felt the confidence to stand up to his controlling tendency.

I was ready for a new beginning.

Thus began a journey into my mind. Volumes of hidden anger—somewhere I had learned it wasn’t proper for a woman to express her indignation—and an inability to perceive that I might have options, were among the many glaring traits I discovered.

The resentment raging from deep inside me at my first meeting with the psychologist surprised me, but the relief of finally being able to let go of the rage felt freeing. I went on for over an hour before I could stop ranting.

I didn’t realize I had set in motion a huge change in my life. I had instinctively taken the action I needed to discover why I had become so unhappy, and I opened possibilities that blew my mind.

I observed the thoughts in my mind. I realized the thoughts were creating the feelings I was experiencing. For instance, for whatever reason, I noticed that I was telling myself, “I feel sad,” right before a shower.  But the moment I realized what I was thinking wasn’t true—wasn’t what I was feeling—I knew for sure my thoughts had created the feeling.

Why do negative thoughts pop up in our minds?

Barry Gordon, professor of neurology and cognitive science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, replies: We are aware of a tiny fraction of the thinking that goes on in our minds, and we can control only a tiny part of our conscious thoughts. The majority of our thinking goes on subconsciously. Only one or two of these thoughts are likely to breach into consciousness at a time. Slips of the tongue and accidental actions offer glimpses of our unfiltered subconscious mental life.

How do unconscious thoughts influence our behavior?

Researchers have long known negative emotions program your brain to do a specific action. It’s the fight-or-flight response to danger. It’s the ego’s way of helping you stay safe. But constant negativity can also impede happiness, add to our stress and worry level, and ultimately damage our health.

When you’re in the fight-or-flight response mode, your emotions program your brain to do a specific action. When you’re facing danger, the rest of the world doesn’t matter. Negative emotions narrow your mind and focus your thoughts. Your brain ignores any option that isn’t focused on the immediate action you must take to avoid a calamity. 

This is useful when you’re trying to save yourself from getting hurt, but in most cases unnecessary. The problem is that your brain is programmed to respond to negative emotions in the same way—by shutting off the outside world and limiting the options you see around you.

This takes us back to my story of waking up to the fact that thoughts create feelings. One of the most striking traits in myself when I noticed my negative thoughts were my being unaware of my options.

My Aha! moment happened while sharing a story with my psychologist. Our maid was off every Sunday. I would ask my husband to take me and our four children to dinner on those nights. Getting four young children ready was almost as hard as preparing dinner and cleaning up afterward, but I liked being able to get out of the house one night a week. 

Often, at the last-minute, all of us ready to go, my husband would decide that he’d rather eat at home. He’d go to the grocery store for TV dinners, and, frustrated, I’d cry. “Why didn’t you go out without him?”, my psychologist asked me.

It was as if a light bulb lit up inside my mind. I hadn’t fathomed I had options. I must have believed I had to do as told.

“If you realized just how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.” Anonymous

 It takes time, but little by little, by questioning the unwanted thoughts flitting through my mind, I discovered that changing my thoughts to more positive ones—ones that weren’t out of the realm of believing—I noticed myself able to work at an ideal level. I was feeling more optimistic, feeling more freedom, and feeling happier. 

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” Norman Vincent Peale

In my follow-up to this post, I will share with you how to stop negative thoughts. In the meantime, try the first step to stopping them. Don’t try to stop them by telling yourself you have to stop thinking about the obsessive thought. Worry and obsession get worse when you try to control your thoughts. Instead, notice you’re in a negative cycle and own it. 

Question if the thought is true. If it isn’t true, try something that sparks feelings of joy, contentment, and love. It could be your favorite music, a walk in the park, or talking to a friend. We’ll begin work on ending the annoying thoughts in my next post.

If you have questions or want me to discuss any issue about your thoughts, please comment below.

Truth: How Sweeping it Under the Rug Hurts You.

 

“Let’s sweep it under the rug,” This is what my mother would say whenever I wanted to know a truth she didn’t want to deal with. I can’t recall the exact instances causing this response, but I do remember that whatever subject we were discussing always involved a complication or conflict she didn’t want to address.

My mother’s steely demeanor and hasty dismissal indicated the conversation was over. She wasn’t going to deal with the information, and so, I let it go. Sweeping seemed to work.

Another target she arranged to sweep away were negative feelings. Whenever I felt sorry for myself, angry with my brother, or humiliated by my friends, my mother would cart me off to one of the charitable agencies she volunteered to work at. Impressing me with how much better off I was than many other children did get me in touch with how giving to others seemed to ameliorate the pain, but I never learned how to deal with the pain in a healthy way.

For example, at the age of twelve, I was taken to New York City to have an operation to correct a birth defect. Two nerves on the lid of my left eye were crossed and caused my eyelid to go up and down every time I moved my jaw. The condition is called Marcus Gunn, and because it is such a rare disorder, and because this was a teaching hospital, several rounds of doctors, residents, and students would come to my bedside each day to gape and gawk at the eye.

I felt vulnerable and defenseless. All that mattered to those men was my eye. I was no different than the goldfish in the bowl I stared at on the counter of the nurses’ station. Like the goldfish, I was being exposed to whoever saw me without having anywhere to hide.

Feeling sorry for myself, my mother dealt with my remorse the same way she always had. She offered a man with both eyes bandaged to have me read to him. This time, though, her way of helping me feel better didn’t. It only caused me to want to avoid any circumstance that would expose me to the truth that I was vulnerable.

Unfortunately, an infection after the operation caused my left lid, the one that used to go up and down when I moved my jaw, to freeze in a stay-open position. I could close it with mental effort, but the eye now looked much larger than the other one.

I found a way to emotionally deal with a “bad eye”. I became the observer. I would watch other people’s reactions to my eye while feeling separate from the experience. That allowed me to not have to be the one being judged and to not have to feel vulnerable. I had found a way to feel a sense of power instead of being a victim.

However, as I grew older, complications from having swept away circumstances and feelings began to crop up. The more I tried to stay safe from feeling vulnerable, the more complex they became.

If you keep sweeping things under the rug, you’ll trip over it and fall flat on your face. Don’t ignore problems, fix them!   

Tony Gaskins

Not sharing my emotions kept me from ever being authentic. I lived in a constant state of acting, pretending, and doing anything that would obscure the fact that I was different. And when my actions failed to keep me safe, I suffered.

Because I had become motivated to be a person others wanted to be with—my way of coping with a defect—I began doing and being what I thought would impress others instead of feeling free to be me. This tactic kept me from ever being able to express my truths, further burying them from sight. Relationships failed due to my holding myself back. I became depressed, not knowing why.

If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, Addiction, Rage, Blame, Resentment, and Inexplicable Grief.

Brene Brown

Then I became rebellious at the age of forty-three. Rather than feel guilty for not having the strength and courage to face the truth that I had a “bad eye”, I began blaming and judging those people I had previously tried to make like me. Separating myself from them, they had now become my reason for my unhappiness.

I moved away and began to see a Jungian psychotherapist who specialized in dream therapy. That was when I had a dream that changed everything.

In the dream, I am walking down a long hall towards a banquet room. Judging from the long wooden tables adorned with table settings of metal, and the dress of the other guests at the banquet, I guess the time we’re in to be the period of King Arthur’s court. A lot of noise and laughter is resounding in the huge room as I find a place at the table to sit. Not long after getting settled, I notice someone approaching the dining hall. It’s someone I don’t want to see me, so I duck down under the table to hide. Feeling bored, I  fidget with a rug underneath the table. Rolling the rug from the end, my curiosity is leading me to examine what is underneath.  Suddenly, all kinds of stuff begin spewing out from under the rug. All shapes and sizes of things, the mass and vast array of so many objects startles me.

How could so much stuff hide for so long in such a small space?

I had an Aha! moment. This was all my stuff! This was the stuff I’d swept under the carpet during my whole lifetime.

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”

C. JoyBell C.

I knew I had no recourse but to finally face whatever I was scared of seeing. This sign wasn’t some random event. It clearly was a warning to me.

Digging through a giant mound of unwanted, crammed, disposed-of stuff is a daunting task. It requires taking one step forward, only to find that you can’t move forward until the next step is taken. It necessitates that you discover the truth, what caused this part of the stuff to be swept away. It can’t be done in a day, so you distract yourself towards more fun, rewarding things to do. But the pull to grow becomes stronger.

There’s a saying, “Out of sight, out of mind”.  That’s why bringing buried fears to the light is so hard. You have to trust and allow for life to bring you the circumstances or relationships to trigger each one. If you are dedicated to being a better you, and if you are persistant, that motivation will bring you the happiness you desire.

“Be your authentic self. Your authentic self is who you are when you have no fear of judgment, or before the world starts pushing you around and telling you who you’re supposed to be. Your fictional self is who you are when you have a social mask on to please everyone else. Give yourself permission to be your authentic self.”

Dr. Phil

I wanted to finally feel the freedom I’d suppressed more than I feared what the truth was. It took me years to uncover most of the stuff I’d buried. Each time I succeeded, I did feel lighter and that inspired me to dig deeper. Now that I feel freer, I am having fun being me. I love who I am, and that love attracts more love to me.

Don’t be afraid of the truth. Remember, “The truth will set you free.”

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’

Eleanor Roosevelt

For a related article, go to:  https://wordpress.com/post/dorettab.com/2077

 

Who Am I? Change is Easier With an Honest Answer.

 

Let’s suppose you want to change your life. You might want to change your job, your routine, or some bothersome habits, but you don’t know where to start. So you ask yourself, “Who am I?” “Who would I prefer to be?” “What do I really want to do?”

Change is frightening and the temptation to resist it is powerful. However, the rewards of change – the opportunity to learn new things, to rethink tired processes, and to improve the way we see ourselves – is worth the effort.

Change is a process. It takes effort on your part. And the fear of losing what you have depended on for your identity or the fear of failing can feel very intense.

Things do not change; we change.

Henry David Thoreau

We can only change our circumstances from the inside out. As Wayne Dyer says,

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

I was watching the movie, “Starry Night”, on Amazon recently. Although the movie is a fantasy of Vincent Van Gogh coming back to vindicate the wrongs done him in his life, toward the end of the movie, there are several true excerpts from letters Van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo.

One of them shines a brilliant light on Van Gogh’s beliefs about himself and his art.  He says,

What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then—even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart.”

When Van Gogh was alive, his work wasn’t appreciated. But that doesn’t mean his work didn’t have tremendous value.

To live mindfully, according to Thích Nhất Hạnh in his book, The Art of Power, ”the most important thing is to have confidence in your work, to make sure that your work embodies your best in terms of understanding and compassion.”

Van Gogh’s art contains insight, understanding, and compassion, all the attributes of a masterpiece. Van Gogh tells Theo in the letter he sent to him that he wants to make sure that his work embodies all the beauty that he is not personally thought to be.

So, what does this story have anything to do with why your sense of self is important?

Despite the suffering of his soul, unable to attain success through his work, Van Gogh was able to let go while painting to find a deep well of satisfaction and a sense of merit. He couldn’t have painted the beauty in his work without having let go of his sense of self. When he painted he was able to let go and “get in the flow” of painting. 

Then why was only one of his paintings sold during his lifetime?

John Kehoe, pioneer in the field of Mind Power, says your subconscious mind is a second, hidden mind that exists within you. It’s a reflection of what you believe you deserve. The subconscious acts upon the predominating thoughts that reside within your conscious mind.

You know more about your conscious mind. It’s the mind that exists to take care of and protect us. It’s our thinking mind. But the thoughts flitting through our mind can be, and often are, full of fear.

Fear generates judgments, blame and, ultimately, beliefs based on fears we’ve harbored for many years. Experts say these fears are mostly generated from birth to age seven. Perhaps these beliefs served us well when we were younger, but they have now become the negativity that is preventing us from all we want in our lives.

The subconscious attracts circumstances and situations that match the images in your mind. When we pay attention to the concepts conjured by our past negative thoughts the way Van Gogh did with his evaluation of his worthiness, the subconscious delivers what it believes to be the truth, but not what we really want.

By believing himself to be the “lowest of the low”, Van Gogh was telling his subconscious that he wasn’t worthy. Since the subconscious delivers us a match to our predominating thoughts, attracting success would have been hard for him, if not impossible.

When we’re closing ourselves off from the Universe’s abundance and unlimitedness, we can only receive that which we believe we deserve.

Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.

Willie Nelson

This brings us back to the beginning of this blog. When we know that we’re the reason we’re not receiving what we want, that it isn’t fate or anything else outside of us, we can begin the process of discovering the thoughts, fears, and beliefs that prevent us from receiving what we want.

You may be able to do this for yourself. Many have. But if you’re like me, you’ll need motivation. Here are some inspirational quotes you might need to get over even your hardest obstacles.

  • “Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same.” — Unknown
  • “Don’t make a change too complicated, just begin.” — Unknown
  • “Small changes eventually add up to huge results.” — Unknown
  • “Action is the key to all success.” — Pablo Picasso
  • “Don’t expect to see a change if you don’t make one.” — Unknown
  • “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

I’m in the process of changing who I am for the umpteenth time. It doesn’t get easier-there seem to be new blocks every time I strive to have more for my life – but it does get more rewarding each time I change. That’s because I’ve found that digging deeper and admitting the truth goes a long way to manifest all that I want to be and have.

For more on “Who Am I?”, go to this link, https://dorettab.com/answering-big-questions-life/