Trusting myself more and my thoughts less

Image by photosforyou from Pixabay

The most powerful and life-changing practice I’ve ever undertaken in supporting and empowering my healing, growth, and transformation has been learning to trust myself more and to trust my thoughts less.

That sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? We are taught from a young age to value our thoughts to the point that we identify with them.

We’ve taken RenĂ© Descartes’s assertion that “I think, therefore I am” so seriously that we treat it like “I am what I think.” Thus, the idea that we can trust ourselves more without also trusting our thoughts more seems crazy.

Over the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time investigating my thoughts and exploring my identity enough to be absolutely convinced that not only am I not my thoughts, but that my thoughts very often lie to me.

I’ve observed my thoughts enough to know that they are often made up of old, default storylines (which are never completely true) and habitual thought patterns that cycle over and over in narrowly defined ruts.

Meditation practices have helped me separate enough from my thoughts to be able to observe them more clearly. In turn, that distance has allowed me to get better at challenging them, questioning them, and exploring them to discover their patterns and habitual lies.

It has also allowed me to discover and embrace that part of me that is deeper than my thoughts (and the emotions that spring from those thoughts). I call that deeper part of me “the observer” or “the witness” because it is the spacious, open part of me that is able to observe my thoughts as a witness instead of as a participant in them.

This deeper part of myself is also where my intuition, a source of knowing that runs deeper and truer than my thoughts, flows from.

Before I began this journey of investigating my thoughts and getting to know my inner observer, I relied entirely on my thoughts (and emotions) to define who I am, to define my reality, and to make decisions about how to interact with that reality.

I bounced back and forth between making decisions that I considered to be “logical” (meaning based solely on my thoughts) or decisions made “from the heart” (meaning based mostly on my emotions). Leaving aside the fact that my emotions were really being dictated by the habitual stories running in my head and were therefore still a byproduct of my thoughts, I ultimately found that neither one made very good decisions, but I thought those two sources of input were all I had.

I was wrong. I was so invested in the definition of myself as my thoughts and emotions that I completely ignored my intuition. Oh sure, I’d feel the discomfort of its protests now and then or the pull of its longings, but they seemed so nebulous and unexplainable (in “logical” terms) that I did my best to pretend they weren’t there.

It turns out that those nudges from my deeper self were exactly the part of myself that I should have been trusting the most! That’s the part of myself that I’ve been learning to engage with, to listen to, and to trust more deeply as I’ve discovered that it tells me the truth much more clearly than my thoughts or emotions ever have.

As I’ve done so, my decisions have gotten better and clearer (even if not always fully explainable), my life has settled into greater stability and peace, and so much of the old drama has slowly dissolved and dropped away.

It remains a work in progress (and will likely always be so). I still get caught up in my thoughts and emotions and old stories more often than I’d like. I still second guess my deeper knowing too often (or forget to listen to it altogether).

Like with any new habit, though, practice is slowly making it more and more my new norm, and it’s a habit that is paying dividends beyond imagining. I highly recommend it!

For reflection

How separate are you from your thoughts? Does that distinction sound like a contradiction to you?

How well are you able to tune into the deeper knowing that lives underneath your thoughts and emotions?

How often do you listen to that deeper part of yourself when making decisions? How do those decisions compare to those made only with the input of your thoughts and emotions?

How might you better engage with your deeper knowing to make that a stronger part of your daily life?

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