“Protect yourself from your own thoughts.”
What do you think is your most intimate relationship? It’s not one that you find outside of yourself with another person, if that’s what you’re thinking. By far your most intimate relationship is the one you have with your self. It’s the picture of reality that you paint in your mind, your own inner world. And in that world you can observe the maps of reality you have created to steer you through life’s choppy seas. These maps are built upon the thoughts you have allowed into your mind. Your thoughts and concepts and ideas have taken root, congealed and fermented into belief systems comprising all the interpretations you’ve placed on your experiences, all your likes and dislikes, all your demands and desires and prejudices. You do not see reality as it is, you filter reality, make up stories about it and then believe them. With these belief systems you spray paint your world, colouring it not with what is truly there but only with the reflection of your own fantasies about how the world is. There is no such thing as clean perception and so you see and experience the world not as it is but as you are. The truth is the polar opposite of what you’ve been taught, i.e. that seeing is believing. The truth is that you believe first and so that is what you perceive. Believing is seeing and this is how you only notice what you expect to see, what fits in with your image of yourself and the people and things in your world. Such are the tricks of your mind.
To gain great Aha moments into your own mind games, all you need do is watch your thoughts and read their stories. The trick is to adopt a light touch and come from a gentle place of simple curiosity with no judgment whatsoever. If you find yourself judging your thoughts as good or bad, right or wrong, you will activate the defense mechanisms that will close them off to you – again! And that would be such a pity. Because if you stay with the programme, you will discover two huge insights:
1. Everybody has the same or similar negative thoughts as you.
2. Your thoughts are not really yours.
1. Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone; we’re all nuts. We all share similar negative thinking patterns that come from our inner critics, or gremlins. These patterns have brought us to who we’ve become today. Our crazy minds play some variation on the theme of “I’m not good enough” – not worthy enough, not lovable enough, not capable enough, not clever enough, simply not enough for this world. It is a relief to know that this kind of destructive thinking is not personal but true for all of us.
Bringing hidden beliefs into conscious awareness will show you how they play out in who you’ve become in your mind. In your inner world are you a worrier, a complainer, a dreamer, a procrastinator, a failure, a star? In your outer roles in the world what part do you most like to play – the helper, the hot shot, the shy one, the life and soul of the party, the peacekeeper, the weakling, the clown? Find out who you are in your story. Shine some Aha lights on the particular games your mind likes to play. What are their recurring themes, where does your thinking always go, where does it close down and never go?
After a few weeks of noticing her thoughts and reading their stories, this client discovered that she likes to cast herself as the victim of her life:
“Looking at my stories with an open mind and a light touch, I had a big “Aha” moment when I saw how I loved to play the victim. It gave me the excuse to blame others rather than take responsibility for my own happiness” (S. B., client).
Note the growing up that can happen when we begin to see and acknowledge our own patterns. Without this awareness of our own mind games we have no choices available to us. S. B. is in a far stronger position now to make different choices because she has woken up to her story. Only when we know better can we do better by making better choices. An example of Aha moments opening up choice comes from the next client as he uncovered his story that life has to be a battle
“My Aha moment showed me that it has unfortunately been my “reflex” to think in positions and future battles rather than cooperation and common interests”. (C.G., client).
C. G.’s insight paved the way for him to think of the common good rather than his own self-interest.
“Aha” events germinate in a silent space. The next client reports adopting a strategy suggested by her coach of simply raising awareness of thinking patterns:
“I learned to sit in silence, just observing my thoughts as they arise”. (H.G., client)
With practice, the stories can be spotted before they have time to take hold, again putting you in a position to make new choices:
“I’ve learned to recognise my old story as it shows up”. (J.W., client
2. With consistent reflection on your belief systems it gradually begins to dawn that your thoughts are not even your own thoughts. They have been conditioned in you. When you tease apart the thoughts that are meaningful to you from the mountains of belief systems that have been forced down your throat, you can begin to get real. Your life becomes more authentically yours. You can decide for yourself what thoughts to allow into your mind, as this client discovered:
“Examining my beliefs in self-reflection has led me to my being me, trusting myself, respecting myself. This is because I have let go of beliefs that don’t belong to me but were ‘put in’ to me” (L. A., client).
1. Become aware, over and over again, of your stories. Do not berate yourself when you find yourself getting lost again in the monkey mind. Just re-establish your attention behind the awareness of your thinking. Awareness, awareness, awareness. This is the foundation stone of transformation. Without it nothing will ever change. It is the first step to self-healing. This blog is a continuation of the last in that it’s all about unearthing the thoughts that you are unconsciously allowing to run you so, again, journaling regularly is a great way to uncover thought patterns that are below the surface of awareness.
2. Get creative with ideas on how to become more aware of your mind games in ways that stimulate you: draw, paint, write poetry, keep notes all day about them.