“First say to yourself what you would be; then do what you have to do.” –Epictetus
If you are like most people you wake up on a Monday morning and trudge through your morning routine looking at the week ahead without much enthusiasm. Same old, same old. Some people like the status quo. I know, for myself, there have been times in my life where I felt blessed that nothing seemed to change, that weeks and weeks went on predictably and uneventfully because, let’s face it, if something changed it wasn’t going to be a good thing. The reality is that life doesn’t stand still. The status quo is just an illusion. The fact that it is a new week screams that change occurred. Change is our only constant. Lately though, an idea has been swirling around me that has really made me stop and think deeply…..
You believe what you think about. Sit with that for a minute. How can that be? I get information and I know myself, I know whether to believe something is real or pretend, when something is made up or honest and so I trust myself to believe what I know, what I feel, what my interpretation is. You believe what you think about. Well that sounds kind of negative doesn’t it? I’ll admit that sometimes I get in a negative place and even if I want to think more positively I just can’t. I feel stuck in my negative holding pattern. How would you think about this: You are standing on a street corner waiting for the walk sign to light up, it is a humid, rainy summer day, you have an umbrella so you feel o.k. about keeping as dry as you possibly can. Suddenly a car comes down the road hoping to make the light before it changes and the tires splash water on you. What do you believe? Where do your thoughts take you at that moment? What are the possible ways to think about what just happened? Did your thoughts fill in any blanks that might be missing from this situation?
My youngest son hates school. The story he has always told himself is that school is boring and he just can’t like what he is learning. This has become his reality and he has created this belief because all he can see is how to go about proving his belief. If he gets a bad grade on a test he says, “see, I told you I don’t like this class.”
But what if he was shown that what he thinks he believes isn’t really the whole story? It won’t matter. Until he is ready to change his perspective, until he is ready to think differently his reality and his belief won’t change. In fact he has been shown over and over how at different points throughout his education he was engaged and happy and learning what interested him but he never attached himself to those moments of triumph and success. Could he, at any point, have changed what he thought about in terms of his education? Yes, absolutely. He certainly had enough support toward helping him believe in a different thought. He could have seized upon the accolades he received for his writing abilities, he could have seized upon the accolades of his athletic abilities, he could have seized upon the accolades of his social conscious abilities but he chose to only become what he allowed to dominate his thinking; school is boring and he doesn’t like what he is being taught.
“Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature” so says the great Thich Nhat Hanh. I would add to this that not only does it bear your signature but it bears your thought processes as well. If your only thought process is to see the negative side of things, to find the problems and flaws of a situation then you are allowing yourself to be and be seen as those negative thoughts. That is the habit you have created in believing what you think. In the reverse, if you look at the water splashing on you during that hot, humid rainy day and think, “ah, how refreshing that water felt”, or just allowed yourself to laugh at the situation how could that have helped you believe that there is humor to be found in the strangest of places. Is it possible to just let go? Is it possible to allow for the other side of the story, the second side to the coin…..
“The mental and physical space we create by letting go of things that belong in our past gives us the option to fill the space with something new.” –Susan Fay West
The past is as near as one minute ago.
What do you think about over and over again? Is it good or bad?
What do you see? What do you allow yourself to see?
What are you believing right now that perhaps could use a fresh perspective?
Where in your life can you open to a new way of thinking about an old thought?
If you could do anything that would make you happy what would you do and how would you go about doing it?
What I know for sure is that what I know for sure will change. Change is constant. I will more deeply define what I know for sure the more I learn and the more of life I allow myself to experience and take in to my thoughts openly. Just like when we play with play dough we create what we think and then just as easily scrunch it up and start again. Just like a bendy straw we play with in our drinks, couldn’t we allow ourselves to bend and twist and become and evolve open-mindedly instead of staying stiff and straight like a regular straw?
Perhaps at one time the way you thought about something no longer fits with who you have become or want to become. Do you recognize that feeling when it takes hold?
Here is my challenge to you: Take a thought you have held on to forever. Draw a picture of what it looks like to you. This could be something abstract, something real, or something imagined. What does this constant thought look like?
Put the picture on the floor and look down on it. Slowly, walk around the picture and allow yourself to take in a new perspective of the picture. If the picture is something that makes you feel upset, stomp on the picture and allow yourself to get free of the upsetting thought by shouting at it or writing as you walk around it all the ways you can think more positively about this negative thought. If the picture is something that makes you feel good but stuck, think about what you see as you walk around the picture and imagine new angles and new thoughts toward getting unstuck. What is one thing you can do to get unstuck or to get out of your negative thought pattern? How can you start to believe what you think purposefully?
I’d love to hear your results. Please share with me what you did and how you are working toward becoming what you think.
Lisa has been featured in Parent Magazine and in the book Stay-At-Home Mom’s Guide to Making Money by Liz Folger. Lisa is a life coach specializing in teens, career change, and among other things parents facing empty nests. If you would like to learn how coaching can benefit you and for a free 30 minute coaching consultation please call or write to Lisa at 203-560-3061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.