We have been taught the three R’s, the sciences, and even computer technology, but most of us have never been taught how to be in charge of what we think, when we think it, and the length of time we spend thinking our various thoughts.
Nor have we been taught to see that each one has a profound effect in our lives, for every mood of joy or sadness does not just happen by accident. Rather, it is first created by a thought, sometimes a conscious one, while at other times it may be a repetitive and less conscious.
When my client Anna, an executive, came to see me, she had become very frustrated with her life because “she had no peace.” And even though she “loved her husband and daughter desperately,” she felt all they did was create more pressure for her.
By teaching Anna to break into her vicious cycles and to raise her awareness of her thoughts, she began to recognize the fact that her thoughts had a great deal to do with her distress.
She agreed to keep a log for a few days of all the thoughts that disturbed her inner peace. She noticed that she was having repetitive negative thoughts about her husbands behavior that would cause her distress.
She soon learned that it was not his behavior that took away her peace, but her interpretations of his behavior and the things that she thought about it. Here are some of the discoveries she made:
• She started to realize that the anger she was expressing and the resentment she was holding onto was the real cause of her upset.
• She even noticed that her interpretations of her husbands behavior and the expectations that she had that he was going to behave badly often times made anything he did into some kind of personal assault even when there was no intention on his part.
• She realized that her own beliefs and expectations were all that she could see everytime she looked at her husband or anything he did. It was a tight box she would not let him out of and she always got what she expected which made her more and more angry and distant from her husband-even when he was trying to reach out to her.
By examining more closely her thought patterns, she also began to recognize that these were the same feelings that she had experienced when her mother would express disappointment of high expectations of her. She was starting to notice how her beliefs had created a “thought pattern” of what she expected to see in the world around her!
She also noticed that if she watched a negative news story about a child that she would immediately start a flurry or worry that the same thing might happen to her own child.
As her awareness grew, she also noticed that she was doing the same thing with her co-workers and with the things that were happening at work. The pressure and worry she always felt was coming from her thoughts- not necessarily the situation at hand.
She constantly felt pressured and anxious, and suddenly awakened to the reality that when she felt either, her peace flew out the window.
She had not realized that she could do the same work diligently, but without pressure and worry if she could catch herself, and choose to look at things in a more positive way.
Suddenly she thought, “Oh my God! I live under constant pressure everywhere!” And then, referring to the journal she had been keeping, she exclaimed, “I could be filling books with thoughts that take away my peace!”
Anna, like most of us, had not been aware of how constantly she lived in the a state of worry and most importantly, she began to be aware that she was thinking the thoughts that destroyed her peace. She had become accustomed to a mediocre level of “happiness” common to many people.
For with each disturbing thought she banished, she was able to create instead a moment of peace and happiness. And the more she monitored such thoughts, the happier she was with her husband and daughter.
Here is a process for learning to detect this vicious cycle in your own interactions. Here is what to focus on and begin to notice to see if you are creating much of your pain and discomfort:
Understanding Your Core Beliefs- Core beliefs are outgrowths of our conclusions drawn from our childhood experiences about ourselves, about others, and about life, some very common core beliefs include :
• I am unworthy or worthy
• I am loveable or unlovable
• I am capable or incapable
• I am safe or in danger
• I am not good enough
• I will always be abandoned
• I will always be rejected
just to name a few. Such beliefs are like computer software programs that will cause us to generate the same relationship patterns through out life, unless they are changed.
These beliefs give rise to our repetitive:
Thought Constellations or Patterns These are the thoughts that we repeat so often that they actually become patterns like constellations! These are like programs or patterns that get put together as we experience something repetitively over time. Once they are in place, we run the patterns every time we have something that reminds us of that pattern- the way someone looks at us- a sight or even a smell can trigger these patterns and even one single thought!
These repetitive thought constellations we have each day are actually like rehearsals of our beliefs, much like rehearsing lines in a play. The more we rehearse them, the better we know them, and the more we live them and see them play out in the world around us.
These core beliefs combined with our thought constellations give rise to our:
Interpretive Perceptions- How you see the world- As much as we would like to believe we are right about what we see in the world, Our perceptions cannot be objective and therefore never are. You interpret everything you see through the filter of your beleifs- which becomes what you expect to see. Your perceptions, therefore, always contain your personal meanings and interpretations, which are hardly objective.
Our interpretative perceptions, then, give rise to our:
Emotions- Our emotions never just happen, or as some people might say, “I just feel that way.” You are simply not aware that your thoughts, conscious or unconscious trigger those emotions.
Your emotions, fueled by your beliefs, thought constellations, and interpretive perceptions join together to determine your:
Which then elicits a:
Response, from the outside world. Your responses to the things around you are based on how you perceive them.
So if we feel threatened or defensive, or angry or loving towards the person you are interacting with, the way that you behave in response to these feelings will determine how they respond back to you.
Such response usually serve as a:
Confirmation- of our old belief system. For example is you feel that everyone is against you, and you act very defensive, the response that you get from the people you interact with might be that they don’t want to be around you- or that they avoid being around you- which would confirm your feeling that everyone is against you!
Are you starting to understand how a viscous cycle is born?
And the vicious interaction cycle goes on and on, often for a lifetime, unless we gain the awareness of how to change the vicious cycle and choose to do so.
Most people live their lives of “quiet desperation” in this vicious cycle without awareness of how not to. And when you live here, in the ego-based cycle, you perpetuate your confusion of identity- and your perceptions are the ultimate cause of your relationship problems!
Therefore, in order to reunite with your True Self and thereby be able to make a conscious choice to create a spiritual relationship, you must learn how to break into this vicious cycle of interaction.
Observing your thoughts is the first step in unraveling the cycle you’re. Having the courage to accept that your own thinking is at the root of your ability to experience calm and peace in your life.