It’s funny how we have thoughts, and instantly believe them without question–at least that’s how my mind has worked.
You can spook yourself instantly, by believing.
Have you noticed?
It doesn’t take Halloween ghosties and goblins to scare you. Your own inner Haunted House, the one that holds your painful thoughts, can do the job on any day or night.
But if you don’t really want to haunt yourself with your thinking anymore, you can study anything you fear more closely.
One of my favorite things to study, hands down, is a stressful thought. By sitting with it for awhile, you can explore why, how, where you might have learned it or “bought” it or started carrying it around with you…..where you began to believe it to be true.
The best question for exploring a fearful thought in depth is to ask the following: What do I think this belief means? What does it mean about me? About the world? About someone else or a group of people? What does it mean about my future? Or my past?
In other words, what meaning am I placing on that thought.
The other day, I heard Byron Katie refer to the “meaning” we put on a thought, or a concept, or a story as being like a post-it note.
You grasp the story title, or the meaning, or the whole general feeling of that situation you dislike, and it’s as if you wrote it on a bright green post-it note, or a bright neon yellow post-it note, or maybe a pink one….
….and that’s your label of that situation.
No questioning it. Just assuming it to be true!
For example, you may have had the thought about a partner, just like I have: “he’s boring”.
There he is watching TV in the den. (Or you can pick your moment that proves that person IS boring).
You’ve got a blue post-it note that has written on it “BORING PARTNER”. Your heart sinks. You wish there was someone around to have a stimulating intellectual conversation with. You want more entertainment in this moment here, right now. Maybe you even feel sorry for yourself because this is yet another boring partner in a string of them. Or you criticize yourself for always being critical.
The whole story is a bit sad, and blue (hence the blue post-it note).
Self-inquiry to the rescue! And let’s use these exploratory questions to dig a little deeper.
What do you think it means, your partner is over there being boring, watching TV? What does it mean about him, about you, about life?
If my partner is boringly watching TV, it means:
- I must seek excitement elsewhere
- I am not close to my partner
- our interests should be the same, but they aren’t
- he loves something I dislike (TV) so we are incompatible
- he doesn’t care about using his time well
- he doesn’t care about being creative
- he’s addicted to the screen