I’ve been studying theories about managing and influencing the mind for over two decades. Psychology BA, public relations post grad, NLP to trainer level, Master of hypnosis, advanced Landmark, yoga and meditation teacher countless books and other courses…
All the way through these trainings I had one question that no one had a satisfactory answer to:
If we really experience everything through thought, why make changes in our life? Surely if there is anything we’re not happy about, we just change our thoughts?
Recently someone asked almost the same question in the context of domestic violence
‘If you see that everything is experienced through thought isn’t there a risk that you just stay in that harmful relationship?’
This question can be applied to anything.
If it is all just my thinking will I…
…stay living in an environment I hate
…carry on working for a terrible boss
…not worry about affording the rent and just think myself happy when I get evicted
…stop looking for a partner because loneliness is all in the mind
I realised I haven’t asked myself that question for quite a while.
And the reason is because the question no longer exists. It disappeared when I saw something more truthful about the relationship between reality and thought.
I saw that the question is based on several misunderstandings:
1) that there is an objective, fixed or unchanging circumstance, person or event that is there in front of us – a violent person, bankruptcy, a terrible boss, loneliness etc.
2) How we react to this circumstance is through thought and so we either have to change the circumstance or change our thinking.
3) If we can’t do this we are doing something wrong
These three misunderstandings set us up for stress upon stress upon stress, triple barrelled stress, stress cubed.
1) The stress of having this objectively bad circumstance in our life
2) The stress of trying to change it or change our thoughts about it in order to feel secure or happy.
3) The stress of not being able to change it or our thoughts and therefore feeling like we are a loser and this is all our fault
And it is all based on a part understanding of the power of thought that does more harm than good.
The correct part points towards the creative power of thought to bring about our experience. This is helpful because this is true.
The enormous misunderstanding of it all though is that there are things out there in the world – people, circumstances, events etc – that are fixed or objective, great or awful, frightening or calming; that how we react to them depends on us; that there is way to manage these objective things that is in our best interest.
The truth is that there is no such thing as a circumstance. There is no such thing as objective reality. There is no such thing as ‘how I am’. There is no such thing as best interest.
The whole, entire thing is held in thought and can change at any minute.
Hold on a minute, what are you saying here Clare?
I’m making up the abusive husband..?
I’m making up the arse of a boss that piles work on me at 5.25..?
I’m making up the debt or the bankruptcy or the eviction..?
I’m making up the fact that I’m single when I really want a partner?
Yes. That is what I’m saying. And before you slam the computer shut and unfollow me for ever more, let me explain…
We are making it all up because the experience of it is coming through us, through our individual experience of Thought in the moment. But at the same time we are not responsible for this experience. We don’t know how we create it.
We might know enough about the power of thought that we realise it is playing a role in our bad experience and our stress.
As a result of that we might be doing several things:
wanting to change the situation to feel better but not sure what to do
trying to manipulate it – reframing the redundancy to try to make it seem like an opportunity rather than a disaster
meditating to clear our mind of the scary thoughts that keep piling in even more loudly the quieter the room
chanting affirmations to try to instill a belief that we have a partner or a million pounds when our entire mind and body is screaming ‘but I don’t…’
putting smiley reminder notes around your house to cheer us up and stop us thinking about how much we hate our job
getting cross with ourself when every time we think of the person or thing we get anxious or angry
reading self improvement books to be more able to create the life we want and to be the person we want to be
All of this is keeping us in a misunderstanding of how our minds work.
All of this is keeping us believing that there is a fixed external world or a fixed self that is somehow independent of Thought in the moment.
It is a trap because not seeing the whole picture is keeping us looking outside to change what we see there or looking towards our thoughts or our beliefs about our self to try to change that.
It keeps us looking in the wrong direction – outside. And the outside (including any idea of self) is created through Thought.
Believing we need to change what we think in order to cope with something that we are creating through Thought sends us round and round in circles. It makes our head explode.
The reason stress feels so awful is it is the only way our mind and body can tell us to wake up. As the stress levels increase to stress to the power of two and then three, it is impossible to ignore the signals any more.
The only thing we ever need to do is to look out on ‘reality’ and realise:
‘WOW. This whole thing – everything I see, hear, touch, taste and smell, everything I notice, everything I am aware of, everything that I remember, everything I expect – is experienced through Thought. That is gobsmackingly, mind blowingly amazing. Somehow I am here, having a 4D experience, generated by my mind. My entire reality, my entire idea about myself is constructed out of Thought and I feel the effect of that thinking moment by moment. The slightest shift of perspective and my entire reality will change.
That’s it. One simple but ridiculously huge and all-encompassing understanding. Because the moment we really see that it returns us to the factory settings. It is the punching in of the passcode to unlock the doors. It is the switch off and on to get the computer working again.
Once we see the truth of this, we shift ourself from experiencer of something real to the simultaneous creator and audience of the whole show. Thought and feeling have become observable and therefore, by definition, are separate from us the observer. This experience comes from us but we cannot control it because we don’t have the faintest idea how we did it. We are not in a position to change it. We don’t have the expertise to influence it. That is above our pay grade to use the well-known expression.
All we can do is either experience what we experience as though it is really happening or observe that experience as the personal creation it is.
That is all we can ever do.
When we live an experience as though Thought had nothing to do with it, we are fixing it in place. We are saying ‘This is real. This is out there. This is a problem or this is an opportunity’. Any attempt to change it or to change how we think of it makes it seem all the more real, more fixed.
When we live an experience understanding the nature of Thought to create experience from moment to moment, we live from our insight into reality, we have space and freedom. Our thoughts just cannot stay fixed and believed and reacted to in the way they used to.
As we come into the truth of this, the thoughts do what they are designed to do: they move freely through our mind unimpeded.
And when they do, fresh ideas bubble up from within. We notice these ideas because we are no longer glued to the screen of our experience. They come with a ‘makes sense’ about them so we know to take notice.
We might find ourselves easily doing the things that even one minute before had looked terrifying, ridiculous or impossible. We might not even notice we are doing them.
We may find ourself simply and elegantly moving out of marriages, relationships, environments, organisations or accommodations. Or realising that the loving, clear, healthy, expansive and obvious decision is to stay.
Whatever it is, as we turn our gaze from the made up outside to the constancy within there will be wisdom exactly right for us right now.
It is wisdom that is designed for us to expand, grow, and flourish.
It is wisdom that will allow us to honour the agreement we made when we were born, that our life will be a re-discovery of our magnificence, wholeness, resolve and love.