“Your thoughts are not always your friends.” This from my wise mentor, Lynn, who seriously had earned the right and the life experience to assert such a radical statement.
I nodded. Mmm hmm. Thinking all the while in my head, “My mentor doesn’t know what she is talking about here.”
After all, by the time I met Lynn, I had been living up high in my head for years, much estranged from my heart, body, and spirit, relying almost exclusively on the thoughts in my head for guidance, companionship, criticism, and comfort.
To hear “your thoughts are not always your friends” was scary to me. If I couldn’t trust my own thoughts, was there anything trustworthy I could count on?
As Lynn patiently worked with me, I slowly began to understand more about thoughts, their nature and purpose, how they arose and where they went after I stopped paying attention to them.
Along the way, I learned that thoughts were not necessarily my enemies either.
They were just my thoughts.
And even the “my” was up for debate, because technically they belonged to no one until one floated by in my mind and intrigued me, at which time I reached up, nabbed it, and claimed it with a triumphant honking, “Mine!”
Thoughts, Lynn repeatedly explained, were like clouds. Only much closer to the ground. From her perspective, we were lucky clouds were too high to reach, or we might well reach up and claim those too!
This is because we are claimers. We see something and we claim it.
We are afraid it will get away before we decide if we want it or not.
We think we know so little about ourselves that we claim anything and everything so that we will not be left with a shell where a personal identity should be.
We must be choosier, Lynn taught me.
We have the right to question each and every thought – to turn the tables and become the exclusive commodity that our thoughts want to hang around!
WE are the one who is in demand. WE are the one our thoughts keep hanging around. We have limited capacity for thoughts, and only want the cream of the crop.
Therefore, each thought must go through an extensive screening process, much like a job interview. “What can you add to my life?” “What have you come to teach me?” “Are you here to uplift me or drag me down?” “Are you telling me the truth?”
All of these questions and more, Lynn coached, we can ask our own thoughts. If we see a thought float by that looks interesting, we can pause it, circle its perimeter, ask it a few questions, then decide whether to pull it down into our awareness for further scrutiny and conversation, or just motion it along.
We have the right to question our thoughts – but our thoughts do not have the right to question us. WE choose them, and not the other way around.
One other thing Lynn has always reminded me is that the only thoughts that are inherently trustworthy are the thoughts that come bearing peace as their gift to me. All the rest may be worthy of consideration, and may in fact be wise teachers and mentors who come to open me up to a new reality.
But only peaceful thought could be invited in without interrogation.
All the rest just have to stand in line, and (patiently or not) wait their turn.
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Last reviewed: 17 Mar 2011