You know those thoughts that come into your head that you would never say out loud because they are hurtful to yourself or someone else? I’m talking dark thoughts of spite, jealousy, unfair assumptions, or some kind of desperate plotting. I have these thoughts, and they drive me crazy. I don’t understand them. I don’t understand why I have thoughts that are so ugly and so against my values and beliefs. They have no business floating into my head.
When I have a thought like this I get upset with myself. I feel like I should be punished and the only one who can do that is me because I’m the only one who knows the thought occurred. So in my head (and sometimes out loud) I scold myself. I shame myself for being a bad person. After a while I let it go, but occasionally allow it to come back into my head just long enough to remind myself of what a bad person I’ve been. It’s a cycle full of negative energy and self-judgement. It’s terrible.
This weekend I had the awesome opportunity to attend a conference put on by mindbodygreen called Revitalize. I was sitting in one of the seminars where a speaker was talking about energies and positive living and mentioned that he too occasionally had thoughts he wasn’t proud of. But instead of holding onto the thought and punishing himself by sending negative energy into his mind like I’ve grown accustomed to doing, he chose a different route. With a wave of his finger and a sassy head shake he explained that he simply said, “Nope, that’s not me.” and dismissed the thought as if it were a wrong-number telephone call.
The comment was a passing part of the speaker’s talk. He shrugged off the bad thoughts so nonchalantly. He went on talking and I sat frozen attempting to process what he had just said. It felt like I’d finally found a tiny splinter that had been wedged somewhere causing me pain. With this enlightenment, the splinter was plucked and instant relief set in.
Part of what struck me so deeply was the discovery that I was not alone in having these unwanted thoughts, others had them too. Before writing this blog, I called my sister to confirm that I indeed was not crazy. Between the speaker’s words, the crowds reaction (or lack thereof) and the confirmation from my sister I feel confident that this is a relatable topic. And this realization in itself has lifted a load I was shamefully carrying.
Even better, I understand now that these thoughts hold only the significance I give them. By giving energy to the thoughts that I don’t want, I’m actually latching onto them, claiming them as part of my being, and allowing them to affect me. I carry them around like a badge of dishonor. But if I don’t relate to them, why do I have to hold on to them?
We are taught from a young age that learning to say “no” is powerful, but generally this is in the context of saying “no” to others. This weekend I learned how empowering it is to say “no” to myself. Just because my brain conjured it, doesn’t mean I have to accept it. I work hard not to judge others, but I never stopped to think on how many levels I unfairly judge myself.
As the speaker suggested, it’s not complicated. Your thoughts are either you, or they’re not you. The empowering truth is, only you get to decide.