To say I behaved self-destructively during my teens and early twenties would be an understatement. Haunted by my dysfunctional upbringing, I would get wasted to escape the thoughts inside my own head. A night would often end with me crying about things that had happened in the past – essentially reliving the trauma every time. Through counselling, self-help books, a lot of support from the man I now call my husband, and my incredibly amazing friends, I am no longer that person. In 2007, post mental breakdown and rock bottom, I set about changing every aspect of my life to become a better me. This grounding has seen me through some exceptionally dark times more recently. Perhaps the last piece of my personal jigsaw puzzle has been learning to allow my thoughts to come and go.
As a home educating mum of three, with a side of autism, I am no stranger to days spiralling out of control
To a certain extent, these days are to be expected whether we are parents or not. However, if the spiralling happens every single day, you probably don’t need me to point out how much change is needed. I totally understand that our kids/parents/sibling/partner/work colleagues’ (delete as appropriate) behaviour impacts our own. However, I’ve come to see there is almost always a deeper cause than what’s in front of us. It is nigh on impossible to deal with today if yesterday is hanging over our heads.
Us humans are as fragile as we are resilient. We absolutely can get through just about anything life has thrown or will throw at us, but we also have to be willing to put in the hard work in order to help ourselves. I’m more and more convinced the first step towards getting better is learning to allow our thoughts to come and go. If we don’t hold onto the negativity these thoughts might have left us with otherwise, we avoid the dreaded downward spiral. In the fast-paced modern society we live in, we have very little control over what happens at large. World wide events are 95% depressing, and shutting ourselves off can feel like the only solution to survive with our sanity in tact. Which is why it’s more important than ever to focus on what is truly important.
A lady who is no stranger to this concept, is the wonderful Vicki Montague, who has written the rest of this article
Over the past eight months I have discovered something that has changed my life. I say this with no exaggeration – this piece goes into depth. Put simply it is an understanding of how our minds work; of how we create our reality. An appreciation that humans all operate in the same way. We all think, we are all conscious of our thoughts, feelings and experiences and we all have access to a deeper level of wisdom (some may call it intuition).
Most people believe that it is things outside of us that create our suffering. The kids arguing are making me angry, the husband not listening is making me sad, the job is making me stressed and anxious.
I’ve seen that the reality is somewhat different
Let’s take one of the examples above: the job is making me stressed.
Is everyone in your job stressed?
Are there days when it doesn’t make you stressed?
Do you enjoy some/any thing about it?
By looking closely at this statement you’ll begin to see that the job isn’t the thing making you stressed. If it was you would always be stressed and so would all of your colleagues. There would be no exceptions.
What is actually going on is a lot of thinking about your job. And as an aside, what I’ve also seen, is that we don’t control those thoughts. Again, consider it now.
Do you control your thoughts?
Do you know what is going to pop in and out of your head?
Or do you see that thoughts come and go? (Like breathing, they simply just happen.)
The downward spiral
When a thought pops into your head that you can’t do something at work it may lead to another thought that you’re not good enough, and another and another that head to a downward spiral. Those thoughts will be accompanied by a feeling. Most likely tension, perhaps a tummy ache, maybe feeling sick. Those feelings in turn dictate your behaviour and experience. So you might want to cry, run to the toilet, hide from the boss, etc. Consider this: what would you do, who would you be, what would you feel, without those thoughts? My guess is that you would just be doing your job. Peacefully, happily getting on with life.
You cannot successfully control thought, but you can see it for what it is. Formless energy passing through your body, which will do just (pass through) if left alone. Did you know we have approx. 60,000 of them every day? We have no idea what most of these thoughts are about, because we don’t pay them any attention.
Suffering only comes about when we mistakenly believe everything we think. When we start to recognise the signs that we are taking our thinking too seriously (by feeling stressed, anxious, angry, etc) we can wake up. We can see thought for what it is and by doing so, we have access to that greater wisdom. When we are not fixated on believing our thoughts, fresh ideas come to mind. We all have experienced a great idea popping into our heads while going off to sleep or when taking a shower. It’s because at those times our personal thinking often slows down, allowing space for wisdom.
We create our own reality
What I’ve seen for myself is that I create my reality and my experience of life from the inside. It’s not the circumstances going on around me – but merely my thoughts about them – that is causing my suffering. This powerful knowledge has set me free.
Free to head into the downward spiral of thought, or free to let the thoughts come and go, knowing that another will pop by. Now, I’m not saying I don’t suffer. Of course I do, but now I do so knowing full well why. Safe in the knowledge that when I wake up to my true nature – that before thought – I’ll find peace and freedom from suffering.
If you’d like to know more about what I’ve seen then check out The Three Principles by Sydney Banks. Or my favourite teacher, Nicola Bird from A Little Peace of Mind. You can also organise a chat with me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.