This was a gradual one. I don't remember there being a moment in time when I had a flash of light and woke up, although there was one flash a few years ago when the whole concept solidified and I totally got it. I heard things in meetings like, "My mind is dangerous territory, and I shouldn't go there alone." Or the "stinkin thinkin" phrase. The upshot was that I should not believe my thoughts.
I always thought that my thoughts were me and that they were true. I've come to believe that for whatever reason my thoughts are often - nearly all the time - not in my best interests at all. They almost always are either judgments of myself or others or worries about the future. They urge me to do things that are destructive. I've also learned that being aware of what I'm thinking as continuously as is humanly possible and questioning the truth of my thoughts and then changing them, is a huge key to serenity and peace and love.
Learning that my negative thinking was very likely the cause of the majority of my emotional upsets was a huge turn around for me. Recently I've been practicing the "morning pages" recommended by The Artist's Way. The idea is to empty your mind of whatever you're thinking about in order to fill it up with the good stuff.
I've actually been journaling daily since 1991, or thereabout, for that purpose, and it's been my experience that although I don't have control of my first thoughts, I do have a choice about whether I entertain and believe them or not. These "morning pages" take the process a lot deeper in that they're three pages of longhand every single day. All the stuff that's buried under the usual blah, blah, blah of my thoughts usually comes to the surface by the end of that third page.
Questioning my thoughts is a challenge because I have unconsciously come to believe a lot of things that are not true. Recently I realized that some of it probably comes from the fairy tales I learned in childhood. For example, I learned from fairy tales that some people are evil and some are good (the wicked step sisters and stepmother of Cinderella) and that when people do things that hurt me, it means that they are just bad people and want to hurt me for no reason. Of course, I always saw myself as the good person.
Well, the actual truth is that all of us are hurt emotionally - seriously wounded - by the crazy world we live in, the crazy way we bring up children, and we pass that woundedness to each other all the time. That's the reason there are "bad" people. I'm not one of those brainless do-gooders that wants to let everyone off the hook because of their woundedness - that doesn't help at all. Being accountable for our behavior is always the right thing to do. But having compassion for myself and all other humans means not living with fear caused by my thinking.
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