After more than 2 decades of trainings and working with clients, I have come to see that is a single, yet important misunderstanding at the root of many of today’s chronic problems. These include addiction, obesity, stress, anxiety relationship breakdown and even depression. That misunderstanding is the false belief that our circumstances – other people, our bank balance, our pasts or even our defective brains – are the source of problematic feelings and states or mind. And let me be clear, when you are in the grip of one of these issues – I’ve sampled quite a few myself – it really seems as though something outside of yourself is doing it to you. Yet that is the misunderstanding. The outside-in misunderstanding. None of these circumstances is the true cause of of distress or the consequent, unhelpful behaviour. The actual cause of distress is always the operation of Thought. [I’m capitalising it because the term is used in a specific way.] Each of us innocently and automatically uses Thought moment to moment, to create our individual experience of the circumstances around us.
Much, even most of this happens invisibly or unconsciously. Yet knowing what the true source of our feelings is can be very helpful.
Becoming clear about the true cause of all distress begins to clear the mind. Instead of having a laundry list of external causes – such as money problems, terrible childhood, angry boss, bad weather, troubled kids – there is only one, internal, cause. Whenever anyone feels bad, there is one essential factor at work: their quality of Thought in the moment. This is not a denial of external circumstances. Rather it is an opening up to the possibility of being in a state of neutrality in the face of any circumstance. From that place of neutrality, options are much clearer. And if energy isn’t being wasted fighting the outside world, or trying to change external circumstances in a flawed attempt to feel better, there is so much more energy left for clarity and inspired action. Few of life challenges are solved by panic, pain or resentment. Far more resolve when a better state of mind emerges.
That is the other great thing about understanding the nature of Thought. We begin to notice that it constantly changes. And if you just observe this ebb and flow for a while, you will notice that, as you are distracted from problem thinking, your assessment of the situation reverts to a more neutral and resourceful state. Trying to control thought is almost impossible except in the very short term. Each of us has tens of thousands of thoughts streaming through us every day, many of them well below the level of awareness. But the good news is that to have a significantly better experience of life, we don’t need to control thought. Understanding the true source of our experience – that feelings come from thought 100% of the time; and that thought is always changing – will, by itself change that experience.
There is one other part to this. Simply having an intellectual understanding of how thought works is not enough. Just as having an intellectual understanding of how swimming or cycling or cooking or falling in love works is insufficient to enjoy the experience. In order to be really impacted by this, an insightful or embodied understanding is required. Which is the subject of my next blog….
In the meantime if you want a scientist’s view on how we create and construct ‘reality’ within: