Sometimes I think that we end up where we’re supposed to be. Other times I think that we end up where we are most comfortable, the place where dreams stop nagging us and justification kicks in. Sometimes I think it is a combination of both and other times I think I think too much.
For the last several weeks I have been swimming in what I called ‘metaphysical tree-huggery.’ * In this post, I talked about how thoughts influence feeling. It’s not a new idea to me as it is something I knew on an instinctual level, with lots of anecdotal evidence to back it up. What I have been learning is that there is science behind it. For more on that, check out the video links at the end.
This is a long post, so the jump comes early, but take the leap. It might be fun 🙂
What I did not know – and what has become clear to me in recent weeks – is just exactly how (and how deeply) my thoughts affect my mood and my life. To put it in stark terms I have spent over 40 years telling myself that I fail at life. These are the kinds of thoughts I had (and yes, I talk to myself in the second person and yes, I find it a bit strange):
You have no social skills
You have no talent
You’re an asshole
You’re a slob
You don’t know how to be in a relationship
You’re just like your father
You’re a loser
You can’t write
Oh, did I mention you’re FAT?
You’re not funny
And you’re FAT
You have no empathy
AND YOU’RE STILL FAT AND NO ONE LIKES YOU
Day in and day out, on an endless loop. If you had asked me a month ago, a year ago, ten years ago, or when I was 16, I would have told you that I have plenty of self-esteem. That is true, I did and I do. But it only goes so far. For ten years, I took medication that was literally trying to kill me because I thought that anyone who had gone to medical school and managed to pass their boards must know what they were doing. They had been trained and had spent all of their adult life working in the mental health field, so they must know more than I did. I figured I was doing something wrong. I just assumed that anyone in a position of any kind of authority – including moral – must somehow be a better person than I am. In fact, I would go so far as to say I had convinced myself I wasn’t worth saving.
How did that idea get lodged in my head? In my last post, I talked a little about how that kind of attitude got started but I was astonished to learn that it had wormed its way into my soul so that it was no longer a thought but a belief.
My next question was how do I change that?
Within the past year, my therapist has repeatedly mentioned Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life. I ignored her repeatedly. My quest to feel better started with Joel Osteen sermons on youtube while I was working at home. Then I rediscovered Wayne Dyer. Then I found Gregg Braden. And somewhere in there, I found the audiobook You Can Heal Your Life. So I listened to it one day. And one thing jumped out at me – it hit me so strongly that I wrote it down.
All we are ever dealing with is a thought – and thoughts can be changed.
What the fuck? Seriously? It’s that simple??? Yes … and no. My thoughts run on auto-pilot. Stupidfatarrogantinsensitivenosocialskilsuglyangryhateful stupidfatarrogantinsensitivenosocialskills … you get the idea. For me, the only way to interrupt that cycle was to blow it up completely.
I found every positive affirmation video I could dig up and I listened to all of them. Twice. I found every talk, presentation, seminar, and audiobook about thoughts and emotion and energy and I listened to all of those. Twice. I started talking to myself nonstop. These are the things I said:
I am smart
I am sensitive
I am compassionate
I am kind
I am considerate
I am beautiful
I am my perfect weight
I love my life
I love my job
I am friendly
I am approachable
I am open-minded
Every positive thought I could come up with, I poured into my brain relentlessly, without mercy. When I thought something mean about myself or someone else, I stopped myself and said the exact opposite. I said it out loud when I could and to myself when other people were around. Each time I had an unkind thought, I corrected it. Every. Single. Time.
I started thinking more about forgiveness because I think that is one of the keys for my personal locks. For years, I have said that everyone does the best they can with what they have to work with at the time. I believed it then and I believe it now. Today I have a lot more tools than I had in the past. More importantly, I am willing to use those tools. I don’t even care (much) if you laugh at me and think it’s silly.
For me, the first part of forgiveness is understanding that no one really set out to ruin me – and if that was the goal, they failed anyway. Everyone in my life was doing and continues to do the best they can with what they have to work with. The second part of forgiveness is simply letting it all go – truly releasing it, not just burying it and trying not to dwell on it.
The result of this little experiment? I feel good. I feel really, truly, honestly good about myself for the first time in … ever. I feel free. I feel like I am finally figuring out how to be happy instead of wishing for it. It took decades to get to this point so I don’t think I will change overnight, but I also don’t think it will take decades to get those good, positive thoughts to burrow down into my soul.
And frankly? I can’t fucking wait for that to happen.
* No trees were harmed (or hugged) during the writing of this post.
If you’re interested, here are some links to some of the stuff I found fascinating. None of these are short snippets, so block out an hour or two.
The Power of Intention, Part 1 – Wayne Dyer
The Power of Intention Part 2 – Still Wayne Dyer
Secret Ancient Knowledge – The Divine Matrix – Gregg Braden
Deep Truth: Igniting the Memory of Our Origin, History, Destiny and Fate – Still Gregg Braden
You Can Heal Your Life – Louise Hay