The other day I was connecting with people online in a webinar about “desire” and questioning stressful beliefs that arise about everything we desire.
One of the first written exercises during the webinar was to think about areas of life I suggested (there were five) and then notice what you’re grateful for that already exists in these areas.
Someone wrote in the Q & A a great and very honest question:
What if I’m not grateful for anything in this area of my life?
What a powerful question….and so great to admit because often, there’s a voice that shouts “You should be grateful! Look at what you have compared to the poor people in Africa! Just to live in this society you’re in the top 8% in the world for resources, quit complaining!”
If you’re ordering yourself to have grateful thoughts, think positively, tell yourself affirmations, or STOP thinking about the terrible dreaded thing that happened…..
…..you might find yourself failing. Miserably.
And then feeling even worse.
So let’s say you’ve been having an extremely hard time with food and eating (as many of you may know, my story is recovery from bulimia and anorexia and horrible relationship with eating).
Or how about money….that’s another hot topic for pain, difficulty and despair around not having enough.
You’re unhappy with your body or your eating, you’re unhappy with the low level of money you have…..
…..and its a long, long way to gratitude.
So why not go ahead and give the upset voice the floor.
Let it speak.
Perhaps it’s shouting for some good reason, some important reason.
The reality is, that voice appears to be upset….and you can fortunately do The Work when a feeling of upset, dread, scarcity or unhappiness comes over you.
It clears the air, on your way to gratitude (without TRYING to get to gratitude, so don’t even think about getting there until you do).
Where to begin with letting that upset voice speak?
Write down what’s wrong with your situation. Write only one thing. To keep it sharply simple.
I am upset with my financial situation because: I can’t pay my rent.
Now answer….why is THAT upsetting? What does it mean about you that you can’t pay your rent?
I have no support. I’ll have no place to live. I’m a loser. I’m doing something wrong. I’m dependent. I’m missing something other people are not missing. I’m a taker not a giver.
What about food and eating….what’s upsetting about this dynamic?
I am upset with the way I eat because: I’m too preoccupied with food.
Why are you upset about being too preoccupied with food?
I’m too heavy. I hurt myself. I can’t control my feelings. I’m unattractive. I’m wasting my life. I can’t get close to people.
Take a moment to sit with why these things upsetting, let your most painful thinking spill out onto paper.
Write it down.
I’m doing something wrong. I’m missing something other people aren’t missing. I’m too anxious, angry, sad. People dislike me. I’m not strong enough.
These thoughts are your keys to inquiry.
Ask yourself the four questions, or have someone facilitate you.
Only question one belief. Not all of them at once.
There’s something wrong with me.
Take this thought through self-inquiry. Answer all the questions, no matter what you say for any answer. Keep going!
Here are the questions:
- Is this thought you’re thinking…..true?
- Can you absolutely know this thought is true?
- How do you react, what happens, when you have this thought running through your head?
- Who would you be in this situation without this belief? Use your imagination…what would it be like for you to not have the thought?
- What’s the opposite? Could this be just as true, or truer? What’s an example?
Look around the room you’re in. Feel your body. Who are you, just being right in the moment, without thinking “Jesus, you need to fix this, because there really is something wrong.”
This really can clear the air, but it takes a moment in time to look. It takes your creativity. It takes believing your own mind can be used to see in a new way (it can).
It takes the conviction that your thinking is very powerful and your thoughts create your feelings and your experience of reality (it appears they do).
Who would you be without the belief you’re doing something wrong, or missing something here?
When it comes to money, or eating….or finding a mate, or succeeding, or producing, or changing, or doing that thing?
If you feel you’ve made many mistakes, or the situations you’ve been in are insurmountable, or success is too difficult, or freedom appears impossible….
….keep holding still with the idea of who you are without your thought!
Use your imagination!
What if you turned your thoughts around about money, or eating (or whatever else you’ve found difficult)?
There is nothing wrong with me. There is something wrong with my thinking (and maybe not even that). There is something right with me.
See what you can find that’s genuinely true for you.
I found when I did The Work on my money situation I noticed I wasn’t lying in a ditch starving. I was eligible for food stamps but actually didn’t wind up using them (I apparently had enough). I had a roof over my head. I liked the beautiful color of the carpet on the floor in my cottage.
I was sitting still, which was relaxing. I didn’t work 12 hours a day, in fact I hardly worked at all and recognized the freedom in having zero possessions. I had time to read. I had friends, connections, family. My car worked.
My mind was not completely insane–it got frantic with worry, but it wasn’t so crazed I needed to go to the loony bin. I could take a deep breath. I had a great resume. I was willing. I knew a lot about some things. I could be useful, I could vacuum my own house (I had a vacuum, and a house).
I knew other people who had recovered from terrible eating disorders. I didn’t binge 24 hours a day, there were lots of spaces of emptiness, including at night when I slept. I was born with a mind and body just like everyone else. It was humanly possible to overcome adversity and addiction. I had heard many success stories, and I was a human.
I was capable of reading and learning and even when I didn’t or wouldn’t, and I noticed these activities weren’t required for peace. I could just sit here and be someone who wasn’t doing anything. There wasn’t wrongness inherently in me being here. My heart was still beating, my lungs expanding and contracting. My blood pumping.
Who would you be without believing your stressful story?
I notice the more I ask myself this question, and then answer it….
….the more grateful I am.
“Desire can produce a universe; its powers are miraculous. Just as a small matchstick can set a huge forest on fire, so does a desire light the fires of manifestation. The very purpose of creation is the fulfillment of desire…..But just as a sleeping man forgets all and wakes up for another day, or he dies and emerges into another life, so do the worlds of desire and fear dissolve and disappear. Being nothing, I am all. Everything is me, everything is mine.” ~ Nisargadatta
I desire something, I do The Work, I find relief, I find joy in this present moment, right here.
Paradoxically, the joy felt now brings me closer to what I desired in the first place….balance, peace, simplicity.
It may not look the way I expected, or have unfolded the way I wanted on MY personal time line, the focus is freedom in the seeing, without the problem-oriented mind dominating everything.
No expectation for what will happen tomorrow, but I know if I begin to suffer, I have The Work to do….
….and take myself back to freedom of feeling clear, of feeling good.
This coming Thursday begins a 6 week journey in exploring Desire, discovering what’s really true and what our feelings are, and investigating deeply the powerful thoughts that come between us and what we need in order to be truly happy.
We’ll have a webinar every week, with slides to watch….the opportunity to journal, ask questions, identify what you don’t like, return to your feeling of allowing what is (even loving what is without forcing it).
You’ll get to look at five important life areas: livelihood, relationships, body/health, learning, and spirituality.
You’ll get to see what it is you really want….
….not focusing so much on the details, but instead the feelings of your true nature in every area.
(It looks like joy or peace or both).
Even if joining the class isn’t your thing then watching where you enter a war with reality, with what’s happened in your life, is the best place to start.
Question your thinking, change your world.