Lead by his thoughtful questions, Kristian and I reflected together about "the voices in our heads," obsessive thoughts, why we all get scared and how we stay safe.
I asked him if I could share our chat here on the blog. He said yes. At first I thought I would edit this to be shorter, but I've decided not to. So...
Here is the unedited dialogue between this wise fellow and myself exploring the nature of thought in the context of The Three Principles.
A question, do you think there are "evil" forces that can control peoples action or is all that just thought?
For example, sometimes people do these really bad things and say stuff like "that was a voice in my head that told me to do it" ... Therefore I thought that is very scary for me at times. "What if I suddenly ..." and then the worst possible thing that I can come up with like kill someone etc..
Have you ever met one with these kind of unwanted almost obsessive thoughts? If so, what makes you think they become obsessive when you don't even want them in the first place... This is where I get confused with our "free" will.
Thank you Elese,
All my love,
How wonderful to meet you. What a thoughtful place to reflect. Here is what I have found most helpful to know about thought. See how this lands for you and let me know.
1. Everyone has every kind of thought.
The most beautiful to the most terrible. The Principles do not say you will not have "evil" or "obsessive" types of thoughts. They say: you will feel the content of your thinking, whatever it is.
Notice in your own life and see if this is true.
2. Everyone has had and continues to have (daily!!) thoughts that they ignore.
We ignore "I could eat that whole cake!" even though we have the thought. So, we do know how to let thoughts come without making them a big deal (even awful ones) and simply allow them to pass. I find that is nice to remember about ourselves.
If you can find one example in your experience, you have established that thought cannot take you over. That is what I call free will.
3. When thoughts come alive in our 5-senses, we feel them very intensely and in full 3-D.
This feels compelling, true and real. And it is. However, most people feel compelled to do something about them to stop the feeling. That means they will act on the outside of themselves in order to get rid of a feeling they don't like: strike out, get revenge, eat the cake... etc. Most people will do this and will truly feel they had no choice to do anything else. Now this is going to sound a bit tricky, but see if you can see that makes sense to people -- but only if feelings are coming from outside of us! (Which they are not).
So here is the REAL KEY: Once you know that your feelings are coming from thinking, and reflect the content of thinking alone, you do not need to act on the outside world in an attempt to rid yourself of a feeling. The more you understand where the feeling is coming from, the less you need to do "out there" to resolve it. (In fact, the less you need to do to resolve it at all. That includes improving on yourself.)
4. Remember, all feelings WILL and in fact MUST change. It is the nature of feelings. There is nothing you can do to stop yourself getting a new idea (and the feeling that will go with it) at any point.
If you want to test out number 4 for yourself, try to take one feeling, any feeling maybe anger or rage and see what you would have to do to keep that feeling going -without a break in the feeling at all.
Most people cannot last one minute with a single feeling. Within seconds they are thinking "I'm hungry" or "how long have I been doing this?" and the feeling they are trying to sustain will simply subside.
This shows you just how much natural feelings are moving along with the thoughts behind them.
So how does this help you to trust that is what is happening and know that it is the Principles that keep you safe, not the content of your thinking?
P.S. and YES, just last week I was totally enraged and wanted to hit someone. I told a friend of mine in the Domestic Violence prevention unit, I could totally see how wives beat husbands and husbands beat wives. I could easily have been one in that red hot moment.
Luckily, I told her, "The Principles kept ME safe because I know what is happening to me -- what they did not do was keep me "safe" from having the thought in the first place!"
Does that make sense?
Elese, all I can say right now is WOW! I acually found myself smiling with a deep sense of relief as I was reading your answer - thank you so much!
What you say just make perfect sense Elese, becouse if we think that our emotions really comes from something or someone then there is no wounder that one might think that we are controlled by something, when we in fact are feeling our own thinking! Thank you for helping me see that
Im starting to realize more and more that there can't simply be any "evil", it's rather a absense of god! In the same way that cold is the absense of heat and darkness is the absense of lightness like Einstein was on about. The way you came across with it made it very clear to me!
For me it feels like that the more we start see our true identity, the less scary our thinking gets simply becouse we just think we need to feel fearfull of it. I mean just look at a little baby, it does not get scared of spiders or snakes or even the most brutal horror movie becouse they don't even know what it is! It's all conditioning!
Or am I all lost when I say that we are learned to fear most things that we are scared of Elese?
Glad to be in this reflection with you
As to your last question, here is what I think we learned: we all learned to "attribute." We had a feeling, looked for the reason for it, and then just pointed to something outside ourselves and said, "this made me feel ..."
We learned to attribute this way because no one knew any different. I certainly didn't before I came across the Principles and began to reflect on what they mean in practice...
So what we attribute to is random. Which makes sense because no one is afraid of the same things right? It's kind of amazing if you think about it, that we have never noticed this is the reason!!
Anyway, my favorite way of talking about this is "No one can make you feel ...X"* Nothing can make you feel it, but you can attribute feeling to something and believe yourself. That's not something wrong with us, it's just a misunderstanding...
does that help as you reflect on your question?
*(With thanks to Mara Gleason who put that on the white board when teaching at Supercoach)
First of all I want you to know that your amazing kindness and wisdom means so much to me
The way you explained how we "attribute" makes perfect sense to me! I can really see how this missunderstanding makes one think that there is something wrong with us, when in fact there is nothing wrong at all!
Elese, what do you do when you get caught up with negative feelings from your thoughts?
Sometime I find myself feeling sad but I could not identify what kind of thought that caused it and I tend to get into this strange gap between stress and wellbeing.
Once again thank you Elese!
Hm, a question on this one ... tell me, why would you want to "identify" the thought that caused the feeling?
It's funny how we give meaning to meaningless things. The moment I read your response a statement made by Einstein came up in my head:
"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."
Identifying the thought that caused the feeling would be like identifying the tiny object on the road that caused a flat tire on a bike. Focusing on that object will not do me much good...
I guess we're so used to focus on our mistakes so our habitual thinking kicks in.
Anyway, thank you Elese for questioning my thought and helping me look at it from a new angle!
Wonderful. No one could say it better. Even Einstein.
Hey Kristian, I'd love to share some of our conversation on my next blog. Would you be happy with that. I can remove your name and such -- I just think everyone has these questions and it's a comfort to people to know that everyone else does. We often feel we are the only ones, and everyone else "gets it" -- never the case!
What do you think?
I could send you a draft before publishing if that would be helpful.
Thank you so much and it would be a honour for me to be part of your blog! You can use my name if you want. Im grateful and excited about the possibility to help others find food for thought in our journey in this amazing gift of life!
Once again thank you so much Elese for all the loving kindness and wisdom you've given me and so many others with all awesome things that you do!
All my love!