You Are Not Your Thoughts

I’m fat.  I’m skinny.  I’m pretty.  I’m ugly.  I’m in style. I’m out of style.  No one is looking at me.  Everyone is looking at me.  I’m special.  I’m just like everyone else. I’m popular.  I’m unpopular. And the list goes on and on. In fact, it’s been said that the average human brain processes between 50,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day.  Even on the low end that is an extraordinary number of thoughts. Of course we are completely unconscious of most of these thoughts, because if we weren’t we’d probably go crazy.  As most of us already know, the couple hundred that we are aware of are already usually enough to take us to the edge sometimes.  That’s why I decided to write this post.  It’s a reminder to myself and of all of you reading this that no matter what goes through our heads, we are not our thoughts or anyone else’s for that matter.

When I was younger, I ran into quite a few incidents when people wanted to fight me for apparently no reason.  Sometimes it was because I looked like an easy target, since I’m pretty short.  Sometimes it was because of my mouth, because I don’t always know when to shut up.  And then there were the times when I got in someone else’s business.  This usually meant somebody was getting bullied and I would step in to tell the bully about themselves.  Usually, I’d say something like, “You’re only picking on them because you’re insecure.”  I think I learned that line on an ABC After School Special (ABC ASS) or the Christian story hour my grandmother made me listen to and I know it pissed off more than a few people.  But the fact is, their agression had nothing to do with me–who I was inside.  It was their thoughts about me that they were attacking and if I took it personally and got angry, whether I fought them or not, I knew I would be doing the same thing.  So rather than continue a cycle that was going nowhere, I decided to investigate my own thoughts.  Going back to this numerous times in my life eventually led to the decision to dedicate my life to the inward investigation of my personal motivations.  My intent is to know the Truth of  why I do what I do, who I am as a being free from societal assignments (aka Who I really am instead of who I’m “supposed” to be.), and  finally, to make that my ministry to share with people who want insight into how they can conduct their own internal investigation.

I chose not to take the “prescribed” course of a psychologist to get to the center of this mystery, because I figured that would have set me up to look for certain things.  I just chose to walk into the Unknown and learn by living and paying attention. I don’t try to protect myself from pain, because I know that this has as much to teach me as anything else in life.  I don’t let let myself believe that Love is something that needs to be earned.  I don’t reserve my right to forgive based on whether or not someone demonstrates remorse.  I take total responsibility for my experiences so that I can get the most out of them.  I rest in knowing that I am not my own Creator and that the opportunity to know my Self is a gift.

I’m telling you all this because they demonstrate some of the thoughts that I have chosen to accept out of the 50,000 to 80,000 thoughts that come my way everyday.  One of the main lessons I learned from my investigations is that while I am not the thoughts that go through my head, I am the embodiment of the thoughts I choose to believe.  Another important lesson is knowing that I can make a different choice at any moment.  Basically, all the thoughts that go through your head are like this crazy menu of who you can choose to be at any moment in time.  Most of us have never been told that.  And since most of us are addicted to people’s opinions and comparing ourselves to some idea of who we should be, we just look at others and say, “I’ll have what he’s having since he seems to be enjoying it. Or I deserve to be punished because I’m just like so and so.”  There’s also the fact that most people are afraid of change and the Unknown.  They’d rather be who someone else tells them they are, instead of discovering who they are for themselves. As a result most of us live an entire lifetime without ever truly tasting Life.

If anyone has ever been bullied, you know that usually these punks are either way bigger than you, have some societally approved authority, or they have to have someone else with them.  You also know that alone or without their “armor of authority” they are totally different people.  Well, there were a few times when I ran into a couple of these people outside the group and just asked them directly why they always wanted to fight me.  These are the top five answers in order of strangeness:

  1. I know you’ll forgive me and other people won’t
  2. You take away all of my excuses
  3. There’s just something about you that makes me want to hit you
  4. You make me sick because you look too happy for no reason
  5. You think you’re perfect

With the exception of #5, I didn’t really have a response when I was told these reasons, but when I heard that I thought I was perfect, I immediately, without thought, heard myself say, “So what. I think you’re perfect too.”  Truly, I had never had the thought consciously before that moment, but when the words came out I immediately felt the Truth in it.  It was strange, because I had never been told that by anyone.  In fact at church, we were told everything but that.  Even stranger though was the person’s reaction to it.  He immediately said, “See, that’s the s*** I’m talking about that makes me want to beat your a**.” I was a little confused at first.  Did he really want to beat my a** because I thought that I was perfect or was it because I thought he was perfect? Over time and other relationships I realized he had chosen the most self destructive of his 50,000 to 80,000 thoughts and didn’t see the value in his own being.

I know that it is very human to say, “Nobody’s perfect or I’m only human.”  People thinks this gets them out of the work necessary to become a better human being.  It doesn’t.  And before, someone tries to tell me that it’s blasphemous to claim perfection, I’ll throw out two points to consider. The first one is Christ’s great commission in Matthew 5:48 to “be ye perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”  I’ll just leave that verse alone because I know most people will do everything they can to get out of it.  It is amazing how far people will go to keep themselves down.  The next point which really sticks with me is if God is perfect, then wouldn’t it make sense that everything that comes from God is also perfect?  Again, this is just as simple as it gets.  Cats bring other cats into the world.  Small rocks come from bigger rocks.  We are the children of God so…. You get the picture.  But I don’t actually expect this blog to convince you.  I’m not even trying to.  To me the meaning of perfection is beyond the realm of thought and has nothing to do with making mistakes.  I make mistakes all of the time in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean God does.  Writing this post may look like a mistake to some people.  But as far as me bringing it up goes, I’m just using this extreme example to illustrate the spectrum of thought available to the human mind and hopefully to express clearly why I do not believe that who you really are is limited to the thoughts you face in Life.

There are so many thoughts out there.  Why do we so often choose the ones that seems to do the most harm to ourselves and others?  And who is doing the choosing?  That’s the real question and the real answer.  Have you ever considered this?  Who is the “you” that is choosing the thoughts?  If you were your thoughts, wouldn’t that mean that thoughts are choosing other thoughts?  Does that really make sense?  Or is it possible that you are not your thoughts at all, but rather someone beyond your thoughts that you are not even conscious of because you are masked behind all these thoughts that you think are you?  Did that question confuse you? If so, good.  Sit with that for a while.  Because if it starts making sense and you accept this possibility, your life is going to change.  There’s no Way out of it.  Deep down under all those thoughts, you know that.  Because, like Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “a mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions”.  His assertion supports that of the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 6 when he says, “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection…For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened…if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance. (read the whole chapter to see context.) The point is once you truly go forward, you can’t go back.  So you’ve been warned.

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