Ralph Waldo Emerson said the above quote – we become what we think about. (Once, Tony Robbins tweeted this, someone else tweeted back, “I’m about to turn into fudge brownie ice cream.”)
I thought that was funny. And then I realized, how much truth there was in both tweets. Our thoughts really do reveal what we hold dear. What is important to us. So one can say, our thoughts show us what we idolize or worship.
What to do about Negative or crazy thoughts
Insane thoughts are okay. I still have many per day. When they crop up, I let someone know of my thinking. I do this mostly so I don’t have to act upon them. A thought, when it becomes something I’m not willing to share, becomes a secret. And secrets are where my spiritual dis-ease hides out. By telling on myself, it frees me to know I don’t have to act on it, and I don’t have to feel badly about whatever I’m thinking.
Years ago, I found someone attractive who wasn’t my spouse. I was confused. And I was tempted to take an action which ran counter to my integrity. So I called my spiritual advisor and told him what was going on. Instead of shaming me or making me feel badly for my thoughts, he first affirmed my humanity. Then he taught me that I could use the attraction as a way to inventory my relationship. Was I getting what I needed from my primary relationship? Well, truthfully, the answer was no. But, with his guidance, I explored what was missing from my relationship. I was able to address what was missing, directly with my spouse and didn’t have to act upon the attraction. He taught me that having a thought gave me a choice. I could act on the thought, or I could use the thought as an opportunity to look at myself. Same thought – different outcome.
My spiritual advisor also taught me that we don’t have to be ashamed of our thoughts. Thoughts are fleeting – they flash through our minds. They don’t have to be acted upon. They are just thoughts. Were we ninja meditators (like I’m trying to become ) we’d understand that we are not our minds. We are not our thoughts. They just are there. What we focus on becomes the basis of our actions.
For instance, have you ever thought about another person – spending all day long wondering what they were doing? Did you ever think about them so much that you couldn’t stop? If it wasn’t a person, was it a substance like alcohol or drugs? Or was the thought about the pursuit of money or fortune? These thoughts in themselves are not bad per se. Thoughts are good when the drive us into forward action. However, the become detrimental when they become obsessive. Obsessions of our minds can be detrimental for our spiritual well being. On the other hand, they can be valuable spiritual teachers as long as they don’t lead to our destruction.
A few months ago, I gave up sugar. It was something that my current spiritual advisor had done and suggested that I try. I did it because I found that I was obsessed with sugar. It was messing with my quality of life and my physical and mental health. Giving up sugar wasn’t easy, but it changed my life for good. Now again I am presented with another choice: To give up caffeine. I hate to admit it, but I am obsessed with it and it is affecting my health and my quality of life. I drink so much coffee, that it is giving me anxiety and heart palpitations. But do I want to give it up? No. That’s why I’m writing about it here. So I’ll have to keep you posted as to how I’m doing in this struggle.
What we worship
This obsession with sugar and now caffeine is just another part of my long journey of surrendering things that. No longer work for me. In my youth, I worshipped the ideal of money, the pursuit of fame and the seeking of approval. Although I still have glimpses of these pursuits, they no longer are obsessions of my mind. As I have aged, those ‘gods’ have morphed. I have been able to drop those pursuits and now seek serenity and peace. But the journey was long and full of (sometimes painful!) lessons that showed me the futility of those vain pursuits.
I’m grateful today for the journey to realize that we can see what we worship just by analyzing our thoughts. Our thoughts can become what we act upon. And we are not judged by our intentions or thoughts. We are judged on the actions we take.
Drop the Rock
There’s a story in the book “Drop the Rock.” https://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/articles/fred-h/drop-the-rock-meaning It is about a woman named Mary who wants to ride the boat with her friends. But she was late to the boat launch so her friends encouraged her to swim to the boat. She swam for awhile and then started to sink. She realized she had a heaviness weighing her down. Her friends encouraged her to catch the boat and to drop what was delaying her. With that encouragement, Mary started swimming again, but started to sink again. She heard her friends saying to her, “Mary, drop the rock! Let go and drop the rock.” Mary understood that what was weighing her down. She and kept sinking because of the “rock” they were shouting about.
Can you drop your rock? Can you drop what thoughts, obsessions and old ideas that are weighing you down?
Thoughts can be an indicator of our spiritual health. We can examine our thoughts and our subsequent actions. If we don’t like the direction we are moving in, we can make a plan to change direction. Thoughts are like rocks. They can weigh us down and even pull us under. Thus, examination of our thoughts can become opportunity for change.
So, what do you think about all day long? What is your rock? What is the obsession that you harbor in your mind that is blocking you from peace?
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