Posts Tagged future
Bad experiences sometimes leave deep wounds on our psyche – scars that take a long time to heal. While time generally does heal most wounds, we don’t do ourselves any favors by going back and picking at them. In fact, replaying bad experiences over again in your mind is a recipe for disaster, for the negative thoughts and emotions that were buried can be brought back to life with explosively destructive force, just like a landmine buried long ago in a forgotten war. The cultivation of greater mindfulness, however, can help us navigate through this personal minefield, alerting us whenever we get too close to danger.
Some of us do a better job than others of just going with the flow of life, and not spending too much time looking back with regret, recrimination, or guilt, to name just a few of the toxic emotions that can accompany our memories. But for almost all of us, there have been some particularly painful moments along the way, and these are the landmines that we must map out and stay away from, lest we unleash a damaging flow of thoughts and emotions. The emotions associated with past traumas don’t just make us miserable; they also have creative (which in this case means destructive) potential, transforming the events that transpire in our outer reality as well as the inner landscape which can often be bad enough by itself.
What sort of events have you buried?
- An argument with a co-worker or family member?
- An accident that you caused?
- The death of a loved one or pet?
- Rejection by an object of your affection?
- Getting fired from a job?
- Failing a test at school?
- Saying something that hurt someone else’s feelings?
- Betraying a friend’s confidence?
- A period of severe poverty and insecurity?
- The time other people abused you verbally or physically?
Obviously, the list is endless. There’s a pretty good chance that you’re working on something in your own list right now. Our inherent “negativity bias” is almost irresistible, constantly drawing us back to the worst memories and the most negative expectations for the future. That sort of thinking once made sense in an earlier evolutionary environment, where the avoidance of real threats to our survival was paramount, but in today’s generally much safer world, this default “doom and gloom” setting does us no favors at all.
Awareness of the Danger Will Protect You
While conventional mindfulness practices, which teach us to be aware of what we’re doing, moment-to-moment, with our minds, can tell us when we’re dwelling on negative memories, they don’t do nearly enough to inform us about the very real danger of this type of thinking. Buddhist mindfulness does not embrace the much more modern New Age concept that we create our physical realities with our thoughts and emotions, and simply confines itself to inner reality.
While there is undoubtedly real benefit to be derived from a more harmonious inner life, the real danger we must avoid is the physical manifestation of our negative thoughts and feelings. This danger is very real, and the power of our most upsetting memories is particularly likely to expose us to harmful manifestations. For unlike the positive manifestation goals so beloved of self-help authors like Rhonda Byrne, we know exactly what these bad experiences feel like and we can remember every little painful detail in technicolor glory. In short, it’s much, much easier to create bad realities than good ones, and we have to police ourselves constantly to protect ourselves from these self-inflicted wounds.
So the next time you catch yourself dwelling upon the worst events of your past, just stop. No matter how justified you feel you are in rehashing that event, you must remind yourself of the power of your thoughts and emotions. A simple way to manage yourself is to ask whether you want to relive that experience – or something very similar to it – again. Because if you don’t watch out, that is exactly what will happen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When replaying past events, one of the most damaging thought patterns we must avoid is that of self-blame. Critics of the New Age use that issue as an argument against the reality-creation principle, but it is – ironically – a strong argument in favor of New Age ideas. To see why, visit this thoughtful Meditation Blog.
- Recovering our True Self: The Journey Out of Our Negative States (mediumsworld.wordpress.com)
Most of us feel upset and resentful from time to time, and for some that feeling seems to almost always be with us. The word “resent” means literally to refeel, so those who carry resentments are simply replaying unhappy times in their lives over and over again. One lady I worked with at one time kept saying to me, “But how can I feel happy when my husband is gone.” I would usually tell her that she could feel sad that he was no longer with her, but she could begin to let go of the constant feelings of grief. She insisted that wasn’t possible. She would tell me that no matter how engrosing whatever she was doing was, she would also be thinking of how much she missed her husband and about all the things she wished she had done differently in her life with him..
It is very difficult to shift our thinking from one channel to another, but it can be done with lots and lots of practice. The process can begin with the realization that no matter how hard we work at it, we can not change reality. My patient’s husband was not going to come back, and she would never be able to change the way her life with him had been. By spending so much of her energy resenting the fact that he was gone, she was in effect poisoning the current monments in her life. We talked about the fact that her husband would not have wanted her to think that way, and gradually she began to see that she could begin to shift her thinking to more positive thoughts.
Many people allow their thinking to get stuck in certain tracks, and they come to believe that it is not possible to change this. Their take on life is that they feel what they feel, and there is no way to feel differently. In recent years, science has come a long way toward proving that what we think determines what plays out in our lives. It doesn’t do so directly, of course, or we would all be winning the lottery all the time. But when we think we are helpless to change our thinking, we find that is true in our lives. When we begin to think about all the ways we might be able to shift our thought processes, we find we can do that occasionally. Since practice makes perfect, we find that our ability to change our thinking can grow.
To give you an example of how this words, I will tell you that my parents lived through the “great depression” just prior to my birth. It colored their lives and I grew up thinking that no matter how much I had, it was never enough. Eventually I realized that my thoughts were always of scarcity, so scarcity was what I attracted to my life. I worked very hard at shifting my thoughts to abundant thinking. I would get mail from many worthy causes asking for donations. In the past, I always felt that I did not have enough to give funds away. Slowly I sifted my thinking to the realization that I might not have much, but I had more than many others, so I opted to share the little I had. Since I was sending out abundant thoughts into the universe, the abundance in my life grew and grew.
If you have decided you want to learn to control your own thoughts (which will indeed change the way you view life and the people in it) you can begin by taking baby steps and progress from there. Whenever, you find your thinking is going around and around like a hampster on a wheel, tell youself that you would like to change the way you are thinking. The way that works best for me is to ask for help from a power greater than myself. I simply say, “Please help me not think this way.” It helps if you have some more positive thoughts available. Think about something for which you are grateful. Think, perhaps, about the reward you will give yourself when you have achieved a change in thinking. Above all else, do not be discouraged when your thoughts shift back into an old rut. Simply allow yourself to be aware that this has happened, and try again. It will work if you work at it.
Sherry – About the Author:
I’m a retired senior, married 53 years, and have three sons and two grand children. I’ve written all my life but have only published two books and one workbook. I worked over 20 years as an addictions’ counselor. My most recent book is of scripture based daily meditations and is titled “Talks with our Creator.” Information about the book can be found at http://www.Sherryschultz377.com/MyBookBlog.