I was upset about something the other day. I thought I had said something I shouldn’t have said to someone, and that because of that, another person was upset with me. I had no real proof of any of this…but my mind didn’t need proof, it just ran with it.
Then, finally I decided to question my thoughts on this topic. One of the amazing things I realized through doing The Work on my thoughts is how often I simply don’t question my thoughts at all. The majority of the time, my thoughts create a story in my mind that I believe unquestioningly, in all it’s twists and turns.
In this situation, my thoughts had been feeding me the story that so-and-so thinks I’m a blabber mouth, gossip- and I was convinced! It was so easy to believe it… but at the same time, it was emotionally and mentally painful and draining. That’s become the first sign that there’s something for me to work on. When something is that emotionally and mentally draining and I can feel my personal power fading at the hands of worry and stress, it’s a time to act. These days, acting has meant inquiry. Instead of blindly accepting my thoughts, running from them, rejecting them, or repressing them, I go into them deeper than I ever have before to feel their full effect of me and on my life. When I do that they show me what I have yet to learn about the situation at hand. In this way, my thoughts are my teacher and they have been teaching me incredibly powerful and personal lessons.
What I have been learning about the situation I was describing above is that I have a belief that I fear people judging me negatively and I feel shame when people judge me negatively but I don’t know why. I’ve never questioned my fear or shame to see if it makes any sense. Why am I afraid of being judged negatively? I really have no idea! What’s the worst that could happen with people judging me negatively? I could end up losing all of my friends and living on my own somewhere away from everyone I know now. Well, guess what? Half of that situation is already true (almost)! I do live away from almost all of the people that I know… and what happened was that I met other people/friends. Fortunately, I also still have the friends I had before, but the point is that even the worst case scenario would probably turn out ok. So really, what is my fear all about?
It’s mostly about the discomfort I feel inside my own mind. Ok, so what happens if I stop having the thought that negative judgments are scary and shameful? What happens if someone is judging me and the thought never crosses my mind that I should be ashamed of or fear this person’s negative judgment? Here’s the scene: I do or say something that another person doesn’t agree with for some reason (to make writing about it easier-and avoid using he/she-let’s just say it’s she) she thinks a judgmental thought and maybe she even makes a judgmental statement like “Why would you say something like that?” or “You really shouldn’t have done that.”
Now, this is the crossroads. There are 2 roads to go down. One road is stressful and one isn’t. Choosing the stressful road means believing my thoughts when they start to weave the mental story that I’m scared of what will happen now or I’m so ashamed that this person doesn’t like what I said or did.
However, if I pay no mind to that story, all I see in this situation is one person expressing her opinion about something the other person (me) did or said. And without the story of fear or shame, I can respond to that opinion from a place of calmness and clarity.
I can ask myself Why would I say something like that? Hmmm… I don’t know? Something like what? And I can respond to the person with honesty: “At the moment, I’m not sure why I would say something like that, but it’s a really good question. Let me think about it a little more.” Why would I say something like that?
Or if I know why I said it, I can tell her. Maybe I was confused or unconscious or tired or frustrated… whatever the case may be. In any event, I’m free to answer the person’s question in a calm, clear, honest way because my mind is calm and clear.
Or if I did something that the other person thinks I shouldn’t have done, that’s an opportunity for learning. I can ask the person why she thinks I shouldn’t have done what I did? Maybe when she explains why, I’ll agree. Or maybe I won’t and I can say so, because I’m calm and I have a clear mind. There’s no story in my mind creating a drama. The other person may have a drama in her mind, but how does that affect me? It doesn’t, unless I invite the drama into my own thoughts.
I can picture it in my mind: Two people facing one another. One person is filled with drama and emotion. It’s buzzing around and going crazy inside of that person. The other person is completely calm and clear. There’s no way for the drama and emotion buzzing around in the one person to jump into or affect the calm person unless the calm person starts the spark of it inside herself.
What inquiry is teaching me in this situation is that the non-stressful road exists and that there is an alternative to my story. I can be that calm, clear person. I never really saw these options before. It may not happen overnight (well, it definitely didn’t happen overnight) but that realization is a game changer. Once that realization is there the story starts to lose it’s power. The longer I keep the realization, or the more times I have it, the weaker the story gets. I can already feel that. It’s like the story is letting go of me, in a way…I’m still in the process, but I can feel it happening. Without struggle. With understanding, patience, and dedication to inquiry.
Thanks for reading.