In the world of american enlightenment, that pastel colored sparkly melting pot of spirituality and philosophy made of zen, individualism, money worship, Christianity, fiction, manifesting, reincarnation, reinvented druid mythology, superhero stories, astrology, shamanism, grandmas good sense, and the kitchen sink, this truth shows up again and again.
You are what you think.
There is nothing good nor bad but thinking makes it so.
Change your mind, change your life.
Which sounds good until I break my toe, and let me tell you, it hurts all by itself. I don’t have to think it hurts, that part comes naturally.
Beyond that, no one tells you how. It isn’t like we can’t wrap our logic around the impact of our thoughts. If I am awake at three in the morning, thinking, I’m perfectly aware that my thoughts are a problem.
Yet and still, I’ve never been able to convince myself that an unwanted event was wanted. You want what you want, you feel how you feel. Trying to tell yourself otherwise doesn’t help. That turns into the feeling about the feeling, and nothing good happens there. Which makes me wonder if, beyond the obvious part where an event is just an event, it is our feeling about the event that determines whether or not we call it good or bad, the “nothing good nor bad but thinking makes it so” bit isn’t a little unhelpful.
After all, that particular quote comes from Hamlet and you’ll note that he doesn’t have that epiphany and immediately thereafter rejoice in his uncle’s marriage to his mother. Nope, he carries on feeling like shit and the play grinds inevitably to a sad end.
Where I’ve found incremental progress is in paying attention. Notice the incremental part, because I’m pretty rubbish at it. Aside from my inability to achieve perfection in this, things do go *better* when I just pay attention.
I’m fighting myself again.
I’m talking bad about my body again and all it is doing is hauling what I think of as *me* around.
I’m resisting what is and it isn’t working.
I don’t know how to stop all of that. I do know how to take a deep breath. I do know how to ask these things questions. Like is it true that no one will love me if I have wrinkles around my eyes? I do know how to pay attention. I do know how to drive like a crazy lady in the general direction of the pool because swimming makes it easier to be balanced.
It isn’t what to do that we have difficulty with. For the most part, we know the right answers. It is the *how* that kills us. The best how I’ve got is to notice when I’m fighting myself again.
The intermediate step is to notice, and then to remember to breathe.
I think the advanced approach is to notice, to breathe, and then to start gently asking the thing that’s troublesome questions. Are you true? Are you helpful? Are you going to get me closer to where I want to be? Are you constructive?
Super advanced is to not judge the troublesome thing or the answers you get when you ask it questions, to just let them be what they are.
But like I said, if I remember to implement this at all, I do it so unevenly as to ensure I never hold myself up as an expert. It’s just the best I’ve got by way of a how.