You Are Unique In Your Thought Life
“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” — James Allen
I made peace with my thoughts by welcoming every thought, even the painful ones. In time, my mind settled and my life transformed, since I was no longer held captive to my thinking. In doing so, I discovered inner peace and freedom. Situations which previously caused painful feelings slowly melted away, and I was no longer wrestling with my thoughts.
It may sound hard to believe, but my greatest discovery throughout the journey is that I stopped believing my thoughts. Why do we buy into the false narrative our thoughts promote? People lie all the time and cannot be trusted, so why do we believe our thoughts are true? To be clear, I’m not talking about thinking to figure out problems. I’m referring to the incessant thoughts that pass through our mind repeatedly. The thoughts which emerge out of nowhere and convince us of something that isn’t true. Can you relate?
Here’s an idea to consider: Thoughts are subjective to the experiencer. There are many factors that determine how we think, including our upbringing, our state of health, childhood trauma, and our environment. In other words, our thoughts are unique to us because they are the amalgamation of our past and present. No two people share the same thoughts, even those raised in the same household. We are unique in our thought life and there is no such thing as ‘The Truth.’ There is only ‘Your truth.’
In my case, I was aware of the mental chatter for a long time. No matter what, the voice in my head was always talking back to me. Is this something you can identify with? If so, how do you deal with it? There came a point where the voice was overwhelming, so I turned my attention to meditation to calm my mind. This took many months of practise, but eventually I could sleep at night, without waking up to the incessant mental chatter. An even greater shift occurred when I stopped listening to my thoughts and paid attention to my feelings. This is when my life really transformed. I no longer believed my thoughts because, depending on my mood, my thoughts could not be trusted. For example, if I woke up in a bad mood, my thoughts would reflect this for the entire day. If I woke up in an agreeable mood, I felt fine. I was hinging the quality of my life based on what I was thinking, and this was no way to live.
Eventually, I had enough and wanted to be in control of my thoughts, without letting them dictate my mood. So, by turning my attention to my emotions, I observed my thoughts without becoming invested in them. I simply turned down the volume on my thoughts and shifted my awareness to my feelings. Our feelings are the expression of the soul, even painful ones. Many people are accustomed to running away from difficult feelings because they don’t want to deal with them. I’ve met countless people over the years who experienced something similar. They pay attention to their thoughts their entire life, which leads them on a wild goose chase. Therefore, if we can tune in to our feelings without manipulating them, we can make sense of them.
Welcome Your Difficult Feelings
“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” — Oscar Wilde
Are you comfortable with this so far? Is it resonating with you that your feelings, not your thoughts, are the measure of your truth? The transformation took place when I was no longer chained to my thinking. Earlier, I mentioned if I awoke in the morning in a bad mood; it dictated how my day unfolded. Can you see how this is a recipe for unproductive living? We are at the mercy of our thoughts. You might reason because you experience your thoughts, they must be true? But what evidence are you going by? Observation alone?
I would argue because we are enmeshed in our thinking and blinded by our thoughts, it is difficult to make sense of them. Returning to my transformation, I am still aware of my thoughts, however, I now look to my feelings to see whether they are in alignment with my thinking. For example, if I wake up in a bad mood, I turn my attention to my body and notice the sensations there. I connect with them without resisting them. I recite the mantra: “I accept” or “I consent.” I welcome my thoughts without judging them or letting them rule my day. I simply observe them come and go from my mind without becoming attached to them.
More importantly, I welcome all thoughts, even painful ones, without censoring them. For much of my life, when I experienced painful feelings such as anger, sadness or a depressive mood, I tried to change the feeling. I immersed myself in activities so I wouldn’t have to feel the painful emotions. However, when I was not distracting myself, the emotions returned with greater intensity. Has this happened to you? I felt I was on a merry-go-round trying to get off, but powerless to do so. When I stopped resisting difficult thoughts and emotions, my mind settled and I found inner peace and an unbound freedom like no other. I wish the same for you because I know it is possible.
Considering this, see if you can practise welcoming difficult thoughts and emotions for the next 24 hours. Don’t rush it, but start small. When you notice them, move your attention to the part of your body where the feeling is situated. Breathe into it and silently affirm to yourself: “I accept.” Feel your feelings and let them come and go without trying to control them. You might notice their intensity will increase while you’re paying attention to them. Your inclination will be to run away from the emotion, but stay with it a little longer. Within a few moments, the emotion will settle and you will notice a sense of inner peace and an expansive space around you. This is your natural resting awareness filling the space of the emotion. After all, to transform our life, we must welcome all our thoughts but not be tied to them, since they are transitory states.