Winner: 2016’s Blog of the Year #6
With no blogs on Thursdays, that means this is your final mediation as a part of the March Kindness Challenge. You’ve been kind through small actions like politeness and through big things like apologies. Now it’s time to try the hard stuff: being kind to yourself.
You have some habits. They have become so ingrained in you that you almost see those habits as who you are. You unconsciously engage with them every day in much the same ways. So today we’re going to take the major element from the negative side and we’re going to switch it out for something positive.
Today you stay conscious and you find that one thing. You know the one I mean. That thing you think often. That discussion you have in your head every day. Maybe it’s about your weight. Maybe it’s about your ex. Maybe it’s about your mother, father, sister, brother or boss. Maybe you worry. Maybe it’s some insult that was hurled at you in your youth and you’ve never shaken it. Maybe you have to forgive yourself.
There is some chunk of thinking you regularly do that is about that particular subject. It’s a daily recording about how useless you feel; how ugly, how lost, how incapable, how tired, how sick or how meaningless. Maybe you were adopted and you wonder about your birth mother, or maybe someone hurt you badly and you have a speech you want to give them, or maybe you just look in the mirror and literally hate yourself. Find that thing. Know it.
Look at the time. Within two hours of reading this you want to have figured out what that narrative is. It really shouldn’t be hard. Now: it is critical to remember that your opinions about the truth behind your narrative are meaningless. You can weigh more than you feel is right for you and yet still surrender your thoughts about being overweight. You can have the weight without the thinking. Same with all of the other potential issues. It doesn’t matter if this narrative is true, it only matters if its negative. Negative goes.
Okay, so here we reach acceptance. Acceptance can be tricky for people because it’s a spiritual act not an intellectual one. If you intellectually know you’re overweight then you’ll feel as though you’re justified in your narratives–wrong! Narrative are always ego, no matter what they are about. The problem is not actually the weight, it’s the self-talk. That’s what’s keeping you down.
So you take a couple hours to find this thing and then you commit to replacing that thought with a positive one. I’d prefer it was about you but if that feels difficult you can make it about the world in general. But you need an actual swap. Then you start to keep your consciousness on guard for that class of narratives. And no matter how justified they seem, you simply switch to your positive one.
If you used to say you’re fat, learn to switch that as a habit with something good and then just think about that. Say you think this for about an hour of every day at a low level of consciousness. Because it’s a hot area for you, you end up with a route through your thinking that always includes your weakness, so if anything does go “wrong” you can easily pin it on yourself (unless your fault is blaming others).
If you switch that out to something positive then you are recovering at least an hour a day and you’re turning it from negativity to positivity. What you were negative about and what you’re positive about are irrelevant–you’ll be switching negativity for positivity so there is no chance you lose.
Don’t give yourself trouble when you screw up and think the old thought. I don’t care if you catch yourself an hour or two into it; just stop it when you do notice it and switch it to the positive thought. What we want to get good at here is the switching even more than the positivity. That’s a skill unto itself. So when you notice it isn’t important it’s that you noticed it.
Over time you’ll develop a real vigilance for this thought. Your vigilance will become the habit instead. You’ll be aware and alert and ready to respond with a healthy mindset. People are amazing but they’re always telling themselves they’re not. It’s a ridiculous exercise that undermines our progress as people on this Earth. There is no value in criticism there is only value in choosing something better.
It’s time to choose something better for yourself. It’s time you once and for all began the process to end that thought. Otherwise people have these for their entire lives. There is no upside in that. It’s like beating yourself throughout your life. Stop. It’s okay. You’re still far more good and worthwhile and meaningful than you could ever imagine. So there’s no need to veil yourself in negative thoughts about yourself. It’s time to come out. It’s time to enjoy a rewarding life. Start today.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations around the world.