Day Four: Super-Power Liberation & Happiness Pathway #4:
We are all crazy/ Don’t Believe Your Own Thinking
Here is some sad but true news: we are all crazy.
Here’s is some liberating and amusing news: we are all crazy.
We love someone, and we obsess about how they need to change.
In spite of a lifetime of evidence, we imagine we are blameless and that any trouble is “Your fault.”
We call the kettle black: other people are selfish, or inconsiderate, or rude or any one of the traits that we pull up in our own moments of stress or forgetfulness or foolishness.
Alas: We are so SURE that if so and so would just straighten up, all would be well in the world.
If they would just CHANGE all would be good again. Of course, that we might change our behavior or our thinking or out beliefs, this doesn’t occur to us.
This chapter is a chance to begin to practice this dance of jumping out of our old stuck perspective and realizing that we have the major say in our own misery.
Here’s a little story about a nice “turn around” with a fourteen year old that I was certain was being the “Stupid/ bad/ selfish” one.
It takes place in Sonoma, around 2000, in the summer. I’d gotten over the trauma of a gal named Sally Ann running off with a man named Joe, and had stopped believing my own thinking that no one else great would show up in my life.
And then Celeste did. A perky yoga teacher, who shared gardening and bike riding and a general love of nature with me.
We grew fonder and fonder of one another, and then couldn’t restrain ourselves to two residences. So I came to spend the night with her.
Off in a huff went Lara, her fourteen year old daughter. Her father and Celeste had been unhappy for many years and had been apart for almost a year, and that didn't matter to her: she didn’t want her Mom living with her new guy.
There I was.
Off she went. In a huff. In the middle of the night. Big drama. Big show.
And she’s fourteen, right? She’s a pain in the ass, nasty to her Mom, the whole usual teenage thing.
And me in all my wisdom, decide to get all twisted about her being “selfish.”
Which I could make a great case for; after all wasn’t she throwing hissy fit after hissy fit. (I.e. acting 14).
And then a pleasant and slightly stunning light bulb went on: I was the selfish one.
When she threw her hissy fits, it upset her mom, and so Celeste and I had less fun.
This upset my selfish wish to have great times, all the time, with Celeste.
I was a hypocrite (this has been discovered since, many times) and that was funny and a relief. She was selfish. I was selfish. So be it.
And here’s where that went:
One day she was over visiting us and I decided to tell her my discovery about me being the “selfish” one.
What teenager doesn’t want to hear an adult admit that they are an ass?
She lightened up and when I left to go to a garden I was caring for, she shouted out after me, “Goodbye, Selfish Chris.”
We were friends ever after, including some very interesting times when Celeste and I had amicably decided to part and Celeste found the husband that was just right for her.
First we can remember that this is such a common occurrence that there is a folk phrase: WHEN I STICK OUT ONE FINGER IN ACCUSATION, THREE FINGERS ARE POINTING BACK AT ME.
Second, we can make a game of this, of course.
Don’t Believe Your Thinking Game #1: One finger out, three back.
Think of someone you’ve got a nice juice one word condemnation for. Selfish. Lazy. Avoidant. Whatever.
Pick to accusing spot and point your hand, one finger out at some imaginary them. Let yourself be all crunched in and tight breathed when you believe this story. FEEL THE PAIN, of believing your accusing story.
Stand straighter. Wiggle a little. Take a deep breath. Look at some nature if you can. And then...
JUMP to a new spot, and pick one of the fingers that is pointing toward you. Smile and discover one way, this is you, too.
JUMP to another freedom spot, and pick another finger pointing back toward you. Smile, breathe deeply and find one more way this is you.
Alas, three fingers pointing back. JUMP a third time, and feel the third finger pointing back and find, alas, one more way this is YOU TOO. Not just you. YOU TOO.
You and the other: imperfect humans. Damn! or, Goody!
Now make sure you did that.
It’s not something we usually like to do.
It’s something we are very glad, once we’ve done it.
And … and the eating crow part, the admitting our own flaw part, is usually not popular.
Here’s a not believing our own thinking game / reframe, that’a little easier to pull off, and hence can be part of our daily strategy.
When: only when we are unhappy.
You mean we can “un-do” our unhappiness?
Don’t Believe Your Own Thinking Game #2: Jump to Gratitude
This is a learning game. They all will be.
Stand on some spot that you’ll call and feel as the “blame spot.” Once there, think more consciously the blame thoughts you are already thinking about some other “bad/ imperfect/ to blame/ yucky” person in your life.
GET INTO IT. FEEL YOURSELF SLUMP OVER AND TIGHTEN YOUR BODY AND CRUNCH DOWN ON YOUR BREATHING WHEN YOU THINK THE BLAME THOUGHTS.
Then, relax a bit.
Stand up straighter.
Look at something real, preferably nature outside.
Take a deep breath.
Wiggle your body from fingers to toes.
Now JUMP, really, Jump to another spot, and in that spot say aloud six gratitudes.
Three gratitudes for life in general.
Three gratitudes/ appreciations for the “bad/ yucky” person.
Feel what happens to your body, mind, heart, soul and breathing as you do then.
NOTICE THE DIFFERENCE. = LEARNING.
Then SLINK back to the blame spot, and have those crappy thoughts, and notice: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE WHEN YOU choose the crappy thoughts and ….. what crappy feelings and body sensations and breathing results.
And breath and stand fuller and wiggle and then jump again to the six gratitudes. Three about life. Three about the other.
And feel the differences, which is to say: learn.
This isn’t bullshitting.
This is core to a good life.
We can choose the blame spot, and ….. happens.
We can choose/ jump to the gratitude and appreciation spot and … happens.
Notice: this isn’t being “good.”
This is being smart/ wise/ kind to ourselves.
We’ve already experienced the power of gratitude.
And we’ve made it explicit that learning is noticing a difference that makes a difference.
Here we are jumping to a different spot, to have a gratitude based outlook on reality.
And experiencing the difference.
And… we can always jump back, temporarily, to the grumpy/ blame spot.
For the next game, we’ll jump again, and this time we will once more jump back and forth and compare the two choices.
This time we’ll take the route of taking a vacation from our thoughts. Later, we’ll learn that one of the questions in the immensely powerful “work of Byron Katie” is, Who or What am I without the thoughts? (see TheWork.com, if you'd like. It's pretty amazing.)
Here is a chance to play this out in three dimensions.
Which means: Jumping again.
And it’s almost the prior game, except our two choices are: the blame spot and the Being Present spot.
Many many people have discovered many many times that the present is a guaranteed refuge from most suffering. (If you aren’t being bombed or physical assaulted, and even there, some powerful freedom can be found. And… most “first world” suffering is in our beliefs. Try this game out as another fun/ easy / direct way out of first world suffering. )
Don’t Believe Your Own Thinking Game #3: Jumping from Believing our Thoughts into the Present Moment without Thoughts
Have a thought about the other person, and how wrong they are and how they need to change. Stand somewhere and feel this, and even allow your body to contract down and your breath and muscles to tighten down about this.
Feel the effects on you of this choice: believing your thoughts. Feel what happens to your chest, your whole body, your breathing, your emotions.
Stand up straighter, take in some extra air, wiggle around.
When you land, go through the NO BODY = NOBODY, three layer game.
Say now I am aware…. and notice two things in the bottom layer.
Say now I am aware… and notice two things in the middle layer.
Say, now I am aware… and notice two things in the seeing/ hearing/ face and neck and skull layer.
Then, slink back to saying your thoughts to yourself and believing them. FEEL how rough this can get.
Again, breathe in fully, stand up straighter, wiggle yourself a bit free, and JUMP.
To a spot where you enjoy and live in awareness of your experience of life, right now. Without words or commentary. Just awareness.
Notice the difference. In this space of awareness, you might explore some easy movement that feels good, feels like an “energy exercise,” feels like dance or being your “real/ child/ happy” self.
Pretend you are a child.
Dance without or with music.
Listen to the joy of being alive without the story to burden you.
Breathe and wiggle and dance and have fun.