We humans are a complicated species. How we think is the crucible of our lives: our thoughts direct our reason, perceptions and emotions which thereby determine how we treat ourselves and others.
The problem is that most of us tell ourselves lies, and we believe them. All day long, we have thoughts, judgements and feelings, living in the world according to our minds. We often differ in our interpretations of a single event with very little middle ground. We may feel hurt or angry for something that is imagined. We get caught up in insanity – the insanity of cultural trends, interpersonal craziness or false beliefs. It’s a miracle that we can agree on anything.
My reality is different from yours. Because of our myriad of subjective perceptions, there is no irrefutable litmus test for reality, no jury to adjudicate what is real or what is fantasy. We’re all on head trips, flying around by the seats of our pants, limited to the only reality we know, which is preordained by our mental and emotional functioning.
This is the ground zero of communication. Building bridges between us, choosing to understand, make allowances, forgive and love is the ultimate challenge. What if my daughter-in-law could find a way to change her thinking about me, from condemnation to allowing and forgiveness? What if my son could become aware of his erroneous thinking and consciously address his choices? If this were possible, many lives would be quite different from what they are today.
That said, the most important thoughts are my own. I have to live with myself, and accept what others have said and done. I have brandished my light saber when I felt the need to fight injustices and lies, but I lost most of the battles. However, I am winning the war by tapping into my inner jedi’s pluck and determination and working to create thoughts that govern my life in a loving way. I have learned to like myself, no, to love myself, and that is a war that has been raging all of my life – until now.
In ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz, one of the teachings is: ‘Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.’
This has been an important practice for me. Understanding on a deep level that everyone has their own thoughts and perceptions is liberating. They don’t have to agree with me nor I with them. People have their own legitimate reasons for their words and actions, whether they are conscious or unconscious. I can let it all go and relax. I finally get it.
Because I am increasingly mindful of my thoughts and have greater insights into people’s behaviors and motivations, I feel more optimistic than I have in a long time. It’s not because my son and grandchildren are suddenly back in my life, but because I’m back in my life. For too long, I abandoned myself, crying for them and missing them. I let sadness dominant my thoughts and emotions, but over time, I began to turn away from all that darkness. Grieving is natural and necessary after such a loss, but then you gotta suck it up and get on with it. Change your thoughts, begin to invest in yourself and create a vision for your own life.