Creating Choice – Disconnecting From Thoughts
written March 11 2009
If you read the blog for long enough you will find that I am fascinated with the concept of thoughts and emotions. In particular how trapped we are by them – they seem to run our lives and I don’t know about you, but I sure did not give permission to belong to a dictatorship. I want choices!
It is the norm to assume (without questioning) that who we are is our thoughts and emotions. If we have sad thoughts we are sad. If we have angry thoughts we are angry. We have no CHOICE and instead ride a roller coaster of emotion that has (well for me at least) a nasty habit of sabotaging life. I started my journey with just one thought, to escape these emotions or at least find a space where I could hide, re-group and then go back into the fight. The problem was I had no idea most of the time what I was feeling. I was emotionally blind. I could not name the emotion I was feeling at any one time (the amusing part was that the people around me could ).
There was another reason why I wanted relief. This journey really started with my Dad’s death…which was yet another drama. Think emotional father getting his second divorce and not coping with it. Insert alcohol (large amounts) and a persistent suicidal tendency. Now throw in a dicky heart and you have the summary of 4 months of my life as I struggled to hold onto my Dad. He died! Suddenly of a massive heart attack and in the wake of his death I found myself in a storm of intense, unforgiving grief that threatened to totally overwhelm me. It would not be the last time I found myself in a storm of emotion. Back then I had no way of coping never mind escaping. Just a persistent, stubborn desire to keep going until it passed.
That was when I started to cultivate the observer. What! I hear you say! Well, somewhere in my voracious reading I came across a book by Dr Wayne Dyer and in it he asked a simple question, when you say ‘I am feeling sad ‘, who is the I ? The very sentence implies that there is a you that is experiencing the emotion and another one who is watching it all…. Another one who is NOT the emotion. I was not really convinced that something as spacy sounding as meditation was the answer,so I did not go that route. Instead I found myself creating a screen in my mind across which I let my thoughts and emotions fly….i could watch them without becoming them. It was tough at first. The damn things just did not want to be watched. They wanted participation and energy. But slowly I was able to disconnect. I was not only my thoughts and feelings.
The thing is that as a coach I find that all my clients are battling with the effects that their thoughts and feelings have on their lives. Simply put, thoughts and feelings drive our decision making (often to the detriment of our goals). As my reading expanded I came across an article on yoga meditation and a section about colouring thoughts/ emotions that just appealed to me. As I highly visual person it just sounded so much easier to see my thoughts in a colour ?When you are meditating (because putting your thoughts on a screen and watching htem is a form of meditation) you do not connect to your thoughts. You do not judge them or have opinions about them. They just are. A cup is a cup whether or not you like the colour or form or size. It is what it is independent of your emotions about it. The thing is, when you start observing your thoughts and emotions they will come with judgements and opinions. You will find yourself categorizing a thought. Ohh, can not think that, that is bad! Oo, I like this thought. And in that process of giving each thoughta label we are dragged back. We are no longer unbiased observers. When I give each thought a colour and intensity I create a new way of observing that allows me to see how a thought affects me in my day to day life. A thought that is strong and affects me negatively gets Bright, angry red, a gentle thought a lighter violet. In this space I now have space to work on removing the attachments and judgments that come with these pesky thoughts and feelings. They become a part of me yet not all of me. They lose their control and I have the space to make my own choices. I have the space to create my own destiny.
So, how much colour and intensity do your emotions and thoughts have ? How much control to they have and how much you ? How much time do you spent cultivating that quiet, persistent observer ? How much time do you take to stand for your own greatness and power ? More importantly…what is stopping you from starting ?