We have been told over and over that we are not our thoughts, but we don’t know how “not to be our thoughts”.
And so, we go on the relentless task of changing our thoughts by controlling them, directing them, and making them be what we consider appropriate and “good”. . . We believe this will alleviate the immense suffering we experience from believing those thoughts.
By the same token, we believe that our lives and our depression are fueled from the bad, the negative, and the self-destructive thoughts that loop through our mind like never ending highways. We attempt to change those patterns through any kind of training, brain-washing, positive thought replacement, and repression of those thoughts.
We may even realize that those thoughts are causing unwanted emotion and feelings of shame, guilt and low self-worth that are beyond explanation. They spin out of control and become the feedback loop to more awful thoughts.
We are taught that if we change those thoughts, everything will get better.
I have spent a good part of 30 years working this out within myself and have subsequently taught methods to others that do not suggest changing our thoughts at all. In fact, when we try to suppress certain thoughts and use positive mantra to train our subconscious mind, we bypass the very crucial aspect of our own self-acceptance that will relieve the negative thinking.
All of this is precluded by the fact that we inherently feel that the bad thoughts are bad and the good thoughts are good. It’s true that no one wants to feel such darkness in the form of self-loathing and wanting to die. No one wants to continue feeling automatic shame responses that are completely unrelated to what is actually happening. No one wants to lose sleep because they cannot get off the highway of hell.
So we try to stop it in whatever way we can and that is usually to try and override with something positive or drown ourselves in distraction, including drugs, alcohol, social media and yes even spiritual practices.
What I have found is that we bury it deeper when we do that.
It’s scary not to do it. It requires some ground work that may not be pleasurable and certainly not easy. A foundation must be built slowly to unravel the yarn of these thoughts and feelings. It doesn’t go away like magic, but there is a process to become free of this nightmare that is our lives. The nightmare that we carry in secret, slapping on a smiling face and “positive attitude” only to drown in sorrow when we get home or drink ourselves to sleep or take whatever medication to not feel this pain.
We must understand that those thoughts exist from mechanical automatic response. We are not conscious, but slave to the thoughts. We can also be slave to the positive thought training we strive to put in place…that is called bypassing our emotion.
When we realize and truly understand that there is something mechanical in the works, that it isn’t our conscious life in operation, we can set out to become conscious of what is actually going on. Usually our pain and suffering plus our failed attempts at solving the problem will eventually bring us to question what is actually going on.
We can practice all kinds of things but the ultimate litmus test is if it is working in the long run…not the short run.
When we begin The Work, it means we are pushing against our attempt and desire to quell these thoughts and bypass the subsequent reaction. Please notice that I did not call this feeling or emotion. In this context, reaction is not emotion. It is attachment to the thought and our work is to see it objectively. When that happens, it will detach on its own accord.
The groundwork is learning the methods to do this very thing.
We don’t need to change our thoughts.
We need to develop the attention and strength to see the attached constructs that make us so violently react.
If you are interested in learning these methods, consider taking the Awareness School”s introductory course called Practical Awareness.
Offered twice a year online for everyone on the planet.
Have a great week,