Do you ever just observe how your mind works? It’s one of the great gifts of a quiet mind acquired through meditation, contemplation or just the practice of silence before God that we have to so quiet our minds and become observers of our thoughts so that we are no longer enslaved to our own way of thinking. I’ve learned over the years that just because I think something doesn’t mean it is true, and even more, just because I am emotionally engaged in some belief doesn’t mean it is true, either.
But now I am being draw to stop being so self-critical and self-conscious, to realize just what my mind is saying to me, not to set it aside as in a meditation, but to actually see what it is thinking. And what I have found is a great deal of paranoia that results in me projecting from my own paranoia what I think others are thinking about me.
So whenever I am uncomfortable with something I’ve done or said, I am projecting onto whoever else was involved what I think they think of me! Arrrrrrgh! And then I have to take back the thoughts, because I have no way of knowing if they are true are not. I suspect they are not true, but I’m not going around to everyone I meet asking them if what I was thinking they were thinking about me was true! Convoluted! Yes! Exhausting! Yes! But this is the way my mind works when left to its own devices. The paranoia comes from some decisions I made as a young child about how I am in the world and how others perceive me—mostly negative.
You would not believe how critical everyone is of me!!!!! LOL. I have spent my life trying to avoid these criticisms which I believed a long time ago. And they are not true! I should correct that statement: Some are true, some are not. The important thing is to accept what is true about me, to accept the whole of who I am.
If I am to be free to be my created self, then I have to let go of this tendency towards paranoia. It’s so innate in me after all these years, but I am sure that it was not part of God’s creation of me.
So then how do I deal with the leftovers of a real lack of self-esteem, how do I finally get to the point where I no longer think this way? The truth is this—I have no idea. I know that the Lord has healed tons of this trashy self-image, but he’s going to have to go the whole way, because I can’t.
What’s interesting to me is this: as I’ve reclaimed these difficult parts of myself, my self-image has not become aggrandized or built-up at all. What’s happened is more of a settling into all that I am, warts and all. There’s less defensiveness and aggression in me, more allowing others to be who they are as I allow myself to be who I am. I’ll be curious to see how his healing of the rest of the negativity about myself will play out, too.
Is this your experience of your own mind, too? Do you run away or try to drown out this kind of thinking? Or can you just let them be, like old friends you’ve known all your life who no longer have any influence over you?
I went to the new Disney film, “Inside out,” yesterday with my daughter and grandson. The story is about a family, father, mother and daughter who move from Minnesota to San Francisco. And in the trauma of the move and new schools and jobs, we get to see the inner workings of the minds of each. For each character there is a panel of emotions trying to control events and memories, five for each person: joy, sorrow, anger, disgust and fear. So the movie-goer gets to see in action the different types of thinking in each person as a scene unfolds.
I thought this depiction of the inner voices of each was wonderful, maybe not exactly how we experience all our interior voices, but a fair rendering of the struggles with our minds that we go through. At any rate we are buffeted by our interior voices and their own agendas until we can really step back from them, be healed of the power they have over us.
These voices drown out the “still, small voice” of the Indwelling Spirit until we can unplug from their power, they make it difficult to really connect with other people. There are two steps to disengaging from their influence over us: 1) to step back from them and become an observer, to disengage emotionally from them and 2) to invite God into our psyches and allow him to heal us of these negative tendencies.
God invites us out of slavery to these negative thoughts and to other cultural/worldly influences into the freedom to be who we were created to be. That’s my reading of the Exodus story–that it is also our story. Thanks be to God!
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I a captive of my own negative concept? Can I recite in detail what behavior and way of being to which it limits me? Do I long to be free of being its captive? Will I invite God into these intimate spaces to heal how I think about myself?
Blessing for the week: May we find freedom from our negative self-concepts. May we be clear about what is true about us and what is not. May we see ourselves as God see us with love and forgiveness.
If you’d like to see more of By the Waters, check these out:
–There’s a new video up on YouTube: “Trust in God” ”youtube.com/user/patsadams
–Check out my twitter feed at twitter.com/BTWwithPatAdams
–Check out the “Offerings” at bythewaters.net which links to a CD of guided meditations and a series of booklets on the Life of the Spirit.