Out of the blue, thoughts show up.
That's how thoughts do their thing. One minute they're not there and then BAM! there they are.
After our one-year-old Border Collie mix, Monte, died in 2003, I'd have sudden intense thoughts, flashbacks, of his death.
I’d be driving home alone, thinking about what I was going to do when I got there (dishes, laundry, etc.) and then I'd see an image of my dog, like a slow-motion video, running in front of the car driving by my grandfather’s country home.
I’d relive the entire experience in my mind in one instant, because it just showed up.
The incredible guilt I felt over taking Monte off-leash that day so he could play with his Husky mix brother, Paris, would COMPLETELY OVERWHELM me and I’d start sobbing right then and there.
I hated myself for being so irresponsible and stupid.
Since I couldn't see through my tears, I'd pull my vehicle off the road, put it in park, and take deep breaths till I was calm enough to start driving again.
Then time would pass, a few weeks or months, and I'd be driving and the same flashback would arrive and I'd do the whole thing all over again.
After having this experience several times, I couldn't take it anymore. It wasn't going away on its own and I needed the pain to stop. I was becoming a hazard behind the wheel, too.
So I sat down with a pen and paper, wrote down what happened, cried it all out, and finally forgave myself for accidentally killing my dog.
Tears flow down my face as I type this; however, it’s only because I loved Monte. Words cannot express how much I adored that year I had with him. He was so precious, so smart, so beautiful. I learned a lot from that dog. But I’m not actually suffering as I cry today.
I did what I did, Monte did what he did, I learned from it, and it’s done.
I gave up blaming and shoulding myself over it.
I don’t suffer over this anymore because I finally decided to stop arguing with reality.
I just finished this amazing book, "A Thousand Names For Joy" by Byron Katie.
She talks about how in 1986 she woke up to "reality", what she also calls “God” or “what is” and has questioned every stressful thought she’s had ever since.
She lives a life of peace and joy because there is no point in arguing with reality/God/what is.
She says, "When I argue with reality, I lose—but only 100% of the time."
"People should be more loving."
Now there's a stressful thought that shows up in my mind often, which I also happen to believe.
The statement creates resistance/stress in me because it presumes that people are not loving enough and they should be different than they currently are.
Byron Katie suggests that we take any stressful thought and ask ourselves four questions. This process is called "The Work".
1. Is it true?
Yes. People SHOULD be more loving!
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?
3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
I become upset. I think of multiple examples where people have been or are currently unloving. I think of our unloving political discourse. I think of all of the unloving family relationships I've witnessed. I think of all of the pain that's been caused by all of these unloving people and their unkind acts. I think of how things could've been so much better if people had been more loving to me or others. My chest gets tight. My breathing becomes shallow. I can feel the muscles along my temples start to contract.
4. Who would you be without the thought?
I wouldn't be upset and impatiently expecting other people to change. I wouldn't be focusing on hundreds of examples of unloving behavior. I'd have more mental real estate for appreciation and creativity and enjoying my life. I'd feel freer and healthier and I'd love being alive in a body. I'd be focusing on the things that light me up. I'd automatically be more loving to myself and others.
And then the last part of the process is flipping the initial stressful statement several different ways. You turn it around and see if it rings more true with other words. So instead of expecting other people to be more loving, I could flip it to say, "I should be more loving."
Yeah. That's DEFINITELY more true. I WANT to be more loving.
This thought "People should be more loving" is one that I probably won't dwell on much longer now that I've done the work on it. I can let that one go. If it shows up again, I can do the work again. Maybe I'll spot something new in my second go-around.
I can use this process with any thought that causes a lack of ease. And I've got great incentive to do it because every thought I believe gets projected onto the world and creates my entire experience.
Here comes a new thought again. Of course, it's coming! Thoughts show up all day long.
So now the question is: "Do I wanna like it or lump it?"
World wars begin as inner wars, as stressful, resistant thoughts.
World peace comes from inner peace.
"If you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change." I’m starting with the (wo)man in the mirror.
Thanks to Byron Katie, my sweet puppy dog, Monte, and also Michael Jackson, musical genius, dance master, and peace lover, for today’s beautiful reminder.