I’ve been thinking a lot about thoughts lately. I bet you’re thinking that sounds kind of crazy. Well, to be honest, me too.
I find myself browsing Facebook and I see all kinds of posts on “The power of positivity,” “Think positive and be positive”, “Change your mind and change your life”.
Is positive thinking really all I need to do? If it were that easy, wouldn’t we all be happy all the time?
One of the things I know to be true is that sometimes we just have shitty thinking. Yes, me too. It is part of the human condition. My shitty thinking shows up in the form of being self-critical, judgmental of others, planning or worrying about something else when I really need to be present in the moment. I can get defensive thinking that I am being blamed or judged without cause, and hence, my thinking is making the other the person wrong. I can also get irritable, or unfocused because my head is swimming in useless and excessive thinking.
There seems to be this underlying belief and misunderstanding that you can actually control your thoughts, and just positive think your way through life. But if that were true wouldn’t you be free of shitty thinking all the time?
Tell me, how is it that the shitty thought got into your head in the first place?
It’s like that damn mosquito that found it’s way into your bedroom even though you have screens on all your windows. Sure, you can swat it once it comes in, but good luck trying to figure out how it got inside.
If you really can control your thinking, couldn’t you just positive think your way through life all the time? Wouldn’t the bedrooms in your mind be mosquito free?
And then, there are those of us that spend too much time blaming ourselves for having shitty thinking in our head. It’s shitty thinking about our shitty thinking. I call that a double layer-shit cake. And believe me, it is not something you want to eat.
You either blame yourself that you can’t control your thoughts, or you think you are a bad person for having the shitty thought in the first place.
Or, are you like me and sometimes think… “If I am thinking it, it must be true then.”
Well let’s be real here…
Are my judgmental thoughts about others true? NO.
Are my self-critical thoughts true? NO.
Will worrying about something right now actually prevent it from happening, or maybe make it better? No. Not necessarily. And actually getting all caught up in my worry keeps me up in my head, and not present in the moment where I have greater capacity to find solutions.
So what are these things called thoughts? If they are not always true, if we can’t control them, if they often have no relevance on the moment we are in… what are they doing in my head anyway? How reliable are they?
When it comes to working on my taxes, writing a proposal, balancing my checkbook, and even trying to figure out which direction my GPS is telling me to go, the mind is very helpful. But when it comes to living a fulfilling life, extra thinking can often get in my way. Why? Well the more thinking I have running through my head, the less I am present in the moment; the less connected, trusting, and resourceful I will feel.
When I am more present in the moment, I find I am more curious. I am much more relaxed. I laugh more easily. And life just slows down. I actually find more of the answers I need when I stop obsessing over trying to figure something out. You know what I am talking about. It’s like when you remember that person’s name in the middle of the night that you ran into during the day, and you could not for the life of you recall in the moment.
Thoughts are how we as humans make meaning of things. Right, wrong, good, bad, high, low, black, white. Our active mind makes meaning as a way to keep us safe. But If I am not really present in the moment, and living in a world of my own thinking, I am much more likely to miss something that IS important to keep safe in the now.
So believe me or don’t, but this positive thinking thing, I see is just another thought created illusion that keeps me out of the present moment. Which is where real life takes place! Positive thinking is still just thinking. It is covering up this miracle of life that we are living. And it most often does not allow us to see other possibilities that are in the here and now.
If I am not happy in the present moment, it is only because I am actually not present, but I am giving the moment I am in some meaning that something is wrong! And I know… because I have a history of making anything wrong! Even having the wrong tomato on my salad could have, in the past, put my head swimming in bad thoughts, and leading to a bad mood. Believe me, that tomato is not wrong. Everybody else seems to like it. So what is wrong with my thinking?
Try this on for size…
You are alive, you are conscious, and you have this amazing power of thinking.
When I stop making meaning of every little thing, I actually see things with more wonder. I see the miracle of being a human being and the ability to see, hear, taste, smell and feel. I see others and get so curious that the things they make meaning of can be so different from me. I trust our unique differences and still feel connected. And as long as I am not making that mean anything, then I find it absolutely fascinating. People are fascinating.
What I also find, is that anything that I thought was a “problem” has a solution. I laugh at my own peculiarity of thoughts. Things get solved when I am not caught up in my head. How? Well, I am more present to see more possibilities. And the answers almost always come. They certainly come faster than when I am over-thinking, or positive thinking my way around something, and in essence, pretending it is not happening. I know that one. I could always rationalize something in a way so that it would not upset me. Which is just another version of positive thinking, if you ask me. In my head I could create my own Pollyanna version of reality. And I was still living in a separate world of my own mind.
I no longer work on positive thinking my way through things. I slow down, I get present, and let my thinking settle. Since our minds are designed to be clear, leaving my thinking alone is the best thing I can do. And eventually it always does clear. Yes, always.
And that, is where the magic really happens. Yes, always.