I came across this recently in a book and I’ve been pondering it ever since:
Steve Chandler is a transformative coach. He teaches his clients that situations themselves don’t cause our feelings. Only thinking can do that.
E.g. Thrust a microphone towards a group of people and some will run a mile while others will fight over the chance to perform. The microphone itself is not inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It’s a lump of metal. The difference lies in each person’s thoughts.
Back to Steve: One day his daughter was watching a video of a psychologist being interviewed. The psychologist mentioned that there was something in her past that was upsetting to her and that she was upset because she “had a lot of thinking” about the situation.
Even though Steve’s daughter had heard the theory that we are living in the feeling of our thinking a thousand times, for some reason, when she heard it this time, it sank in.
Afterwards, his daughter came up to him and said,
“I always thought I just had fears. That the fears were first. And they caused the thinking. I had it backwards.”
This made me ponder…
We think we have a fear of writing/drawing/singing/dancing/speaking in public etc and this makes us think negative/scared thoughts. But what if we have it backwards? What if our fears don’t cause our negative/scared thinking; what if our negative/scared thinking causes our fears?
Young kids jump at the chance to draw something. Anything. They throw themselves into the task with glee because they have zero thinking about it. They don’t fret about whether their drawing is good enough, or whether it will sell enough copies.
So what if the only thing standing in our way as adults is the fact that we have a lot of thinking about certain things (e.g. writing a novel) and little or no thinking about other things (e.g. writing a letter to a friend)?
We can’t stop thinking.
We could meditate on a mountaintop for months and thoughts would still pop into our mind (even if it’s just the thought that the mountaintop is rather hard and we’re an idiot for not bringing a cushion with us).
But clearly seeing that our fear is coming from a lot of thinking about the thing we fear and not the thing itself, might help to loosen its grip on us.
Our fear starts to look less like a permanent issue and more like a bad habit we’ve fallen into.
And if it’s a habit, we’re not stuck with it forever.