The idea that our thoughts are just something we don’t have to “believe” in order to alleviate suffering is one of those self-help axioms which have become so pervasive that no one dares to question it. It’s been espoused as a high-minded ideal by “thought leaders” for so long as an “enlightened” way of dealing with our humanity, that it is swallowed hook line and sinker by every first-time seeker taking sips of the proverbial self-help Koolaid.
Our thoughts are not THE PROBLEM, they are a symptom of an underlying disconnection with ourselves: an old trauma or wound or feeling we are trying to avoid.
The truth is, our thoughts, our minds, our egos, are an amazing survival and coping mechanism our humanity relies on for protection: to guarantee us safety, security, and love. True this can be dysfunctional, but only to the point that we don’t understand where our thoughts come from or what they are trying to show us.
We have between 50,0000 and 70,000 thoughts a day. Most of them you don’t even notice or believe.
For the sake of our discussion here, I am talking about the thoughts that have emotional juice, that hold you hostage, that repetitively show up in your life.
Notice, in all the thoughts that you’ve ever had, that you didn’t want to be having, that could be qualified as “limiting” or “negative,” you never once thought about having the disempowering thought first.
So who decided that thoughts were a purely rational or logical problem? That the simple decision to call a thought “not true”, “not real”, “just a story”, “limiting”, or “negative” would be so utterly profound that the whole layered, nuanced, and complex network of human conditioning, cellular memory, stored trauma, feelings, beliefs, and subconscious imprints would all rally behind the rational mind’s attempts to muscle our whole being into believing what we think we should feel or think or deeply believe?
Anyone who has spent years in the self-help world working on “mastering their mind,” or “reframing their thoughts” or “observing their ego” knows we might get short bouts of reprieve before we are caught up in an old loop or reactive trigger or disempowering mind-stream again. It also requires a massive amount of effort and energy.
The reason wrestling our “negative” thoughts into oblivion is so catchy and popular is twofold.
A simple shifting of thoughts serves the masculine dominated, control and predict, plug in A get B, quick fix paradigm that sees life through a linear lens: “Just do this, and viola! You get that.” And it is more comfortable than doing the honest, self-reflection and heavy lifting of emotional integration, where we have to address and sift through disowned shame, grief and fear, making “change your thoughts change your life” a sellable solution, readily heralded by people who are already disconnected from themselves, allowing them to remain comfortable through dissociating more, only now more “enlightened” dissociation.
Forget “mastering your mind”, it’s not possible anyway. The mind is a tool; a portal, and an access point into deeper healing, self-connection, and renewal.
Thoughts aren’t problems to be logically talked away. Ever met someone in therapy working on the same stuff for 10 years? The mind’s outpourings are a byproduct of the fracture between our mind, body, heart and soul. They are a result of the imprinting and belief systems that were set up in early childhood trauma.
We all have trauma, it’s how we internalize fear.
So we might as well make friends with our thoughts and egos and limiting beliefs and allow them to take us to our underlying, disowned, pain, shame, and fear. Perhaps get curious about the feelings they are directing us away from for our “survival,” but truly for what they can lead us to for deep, healing, integration and renewal.
This re-connection, through our humanity as opposed to dismissing it, allows us to reclaim our hearts and bring us back to life. It opens the door to self-love and self-compassion and helps us develop a new relationship with our basic vulnerability and openness. This starts to restore what has been lost through self-abandonment and spiritual bypassing. We get more authentic vulnerability, self-intimacy, and self-trust. We experience more profound feelings of warmth and caring for the pain in our lives.
As we stop denying, dismissing, and repressing parts of ourselves, we integrate what has been disowned and the thoughts naturally become more loving, peaceful, and creative without having to go to war with ourselves, or be under constant observation.
Real compassion can only arise out of being willing to feel pain. As long as we refuse to recognize our thoughts for what they are: an access point to the undigested, stored grief material of our psyche, we won’t be able to feel any real compassion for ourselves or for others.
Compassion literally means “suffering with” — being a friend and companion to the pain that’s involved in being human.
Your thoughts don’t create your reality. Your ability to be with your wholehuman experience creates your reality.
All Love. All Truth.