I think we all need a checkup from the neck up at times – perhaps often! I understand that the spirit of mindfulness would have us be aware of our thoughts without judging them. But I also understand that holding certain thoughts can have a distinctly negative effect upon our well-being. So I will always be a fan of mindful practices. They can truly restore and strengthen our neural pathways.
BUT (you could tell there was a but coming, couldn’t you?) … sometimes just allowing and accepting thoughts to persist in one’s mind can be harmful. For instance, giving head-space to some thoughts of past events which detract from our sense of self-worth can lead to actions based upon our degraded sense of self. Not cool. Not OK. We shouldn’t just ‘let those thoughts be’ if they’ll likely lead us to devalue self and under-protect self.
I think before we allow those thoughts to hang around in our heads we need to do some careful and thoughtful re-framing. I think of re-framing as a way to tell a story in a manner which causes less pain or shifts the focus of the story to the growth caused by the event rather than the pain of it. Re-framing and retelling retain the truth – this isn’t about revising the facts of a story, but bringing it to a place of kinder understanding – to a place where we can bear to let it sit in our mind without harming us.
Traumatic events in my past have brought me a deeper sense of compassion for those who suffer. The empathy I bring to my work each day has been enriched immeasurably by some terribly painful events. But today it is not the painful events which frequent my memory. It is instead a heartfelt gratitude for what the pain brought me. And most of the time, most days, that really is where my heads at.
I often share the “Law of the Funnel” in groups and classes. It’s a very simple illustration of the connections between our thoughts, feelings, and deeds. Watch for it in the next few days. I think the “Law of the Funnel” can help us smooth some of the rough edges off of painful thoughts so we can better sit and be at peace with them.
Please remember that QuittersWin groups are available in certain geographical areas (central New England) and QuittersWin resources are always provided without cost to participants. You deserve to be free!