Lately we've been exploring the spin that our thoughts put on our life experiences. The reason this is so important is that most people assume that their perception of reality is reality itself. We talked about the driver who habitually loses his cool in traffic, and blames the traffic for causing him to behave so badly. Sometimes even the most intelligent, mature, and/or spiritual of people can go through life without realizing the connection between their thoughts and their happiness or success.
This week I wanted to focus on the idea that holding a particular thought or judgment can make us miserable and sometimes even turn us into someone we don't like. Author Byron Katie likes to ask the question, "Who would you be without that thought?" What would happen if the driver mentioned above didn't react automatically to traffic? What if he had a bout of amnesia and forgot everything he'd ever thought about traffic? How would he respond? Who would he be without the thought that traffic is a bad thing that shouldn't happen?
Chances are he'd notice that cars were slowing down, and he'd think something like, "Hmmm, I wonder why those vehicles are slowing down. There must be something going on up ahead. I wonder what it is." If he didn't feel the need to fight with reality he'd probably be a much calmer, more patient, and happy person.
As another example, think of someone you know who pushes your buttons----maybe a parent, spouse or child. What does this person do that annoys or upsets you? Let's say your husband leaves the cap off the toothpaste. The first time he ever did it you probably didn't go crazy, right? You might have even thought it was cute or child-like or quirky. But that was then. Now, years later, you dread even going into the bathroom. You're so poised to be upset about the toothpaste situation, that even when he does remember to replace the cap you feel disgusted, offended, and self-righteous.
Who would you be if you didn't have those thoughts about your husband and the toothpaste? At the very least you probably wouldn't dread entering your own bathroom. You'd probably feel like a nicer, less testy person. And your relationship with your husband would probably be more loving. You'd might be happier in general if you didn't constantly tell yourself that old story about how your husband shouldn't leave the lid off the toothpaste, and what a slob he is.
This week, gentle reader, I ask you to pick a troublesome thought from your head and ask yourself the question, "Who would I be without that thought?" Just imagine that having the usual response is somehow impossible, and see how you feel.
Please Let me know how this goes. I'd love to hear from you.