Stuck in Old Thinking
When we are born, we are just living- nothing else. Living for us at that point means learning to focus our eyes, digest our food and interact with this strange new world. We don’t judge anyone, we don’t gossip, we don’t hate and we don’t think we aren’t good enough. Fast forward thirty years. By this time we have been repeating the same thoughts about politics, music, actors, food, exercise, friends, work and ourselves over and over. In fact, we rarely have new thoughts. Instead, it’s as if we have files stored in our brain for all topics of conversation that may arise throughout the day. When a key word in a topic comes up, we pull the respective file in our brain, open the folder and begin reading what it says. It’s as if we are reciting pre-written text. And in a way, we are.
Listen to what we are saying. Those words come from our thoughts which come from our beliefs. Most of those beliefs were formed for us when we were young. For instance, if we mistrust banks, it may be because our parents mistrusted banks. We are repeating their beliefs. If we don’t like vegetables, it was probably because one of our parents didn’t like vegetables. More repetition. If we don’t like a certain type of person or a certain political party, it tends to be due to how we were raised to think about those things. But, given the chance to change our mind, we might think something completely different.
We listened to our parents, other family members, teachers, friends and all forms of media tell us how to think about life including ourselves. We go through life sticking to the same story over and over. Perhaps we feel we have some control over life when we do this. Perhaps it’s the only way we can make sense of the world, even if the thinking makes life difficult for us and others. Maybe we don’t know we don’t have to think what we have always thought. Perhaps we aren’t aware that we can change our thinking if we want to.
Why would we change our thinking? Well, some of what we think may not be helpful, healthy or advantageous to us. For instance, thinking that someone is below us if they act or dress a certain way prevents us from feeling a deeper connection to others. Since one of the biggest fears people have is the fear of being alone, this thinking only perpetuates one of our biggest fears. But, if we change that thinking to honor all people and realize we are all the same deep down, we will have a better chance of making connections to others and we won’t feel so alone. Many of our thoughts about others and ourselves are based in fears and fearful thoughts create unhealthy patterns of living and separate us from our loved ones. But, most fears aren’t real, so the thoughts that arise from the fears are not real either. Knowing that only comes from experiencing it. In order to experience it, you have to be willing to let go of some of the old thinking.
Listen to repetitive patterns of thinking, especially the ones that have judgment and prejudice in them. Trace the back to see if you can uncover the origination point, or the original source, of that specific thinking. When you do, you may realize your parents thought that or the school you went to as a kid drilled it into your head. When we uncover harmful or separating thinking patterns, we can ask ourselves some questions:
- Does what I’m thinking really apply to my life today?
- Does it work in a way that assists me in living the life I really want to live?
- Do I still want to think that way or do I want to change it?
If we listen to our thoughts, I mean really listen to them, we can hear if those are the things we really feel in our heart or if we are just repeating old training. How do we listen to our thoughts? We have to take a step back – we have to become a good listener for ourselves. We can do this by taking a position of an observer rather than a full on participant of our thoughts. This takes practice and patience. You don’t have to be the thoughts, you can simply listen to them as they go through your mind or as you speak them. We are on auto-pilot so much throughout our days that we may not even hear ourselves. So, while learning to listen to your thoughts may be a challenge, you can do it. Don’t give up. What you uncover will change your life. It is an eye-opening and a heart-opening experience.
Making the Change
Kinky Boots is the 2005 British- American film based on a true story about a drag queen who comes to the rescue of a man who inherited his father’s shoe factory and needs to diversify the product line to prevent a permanent shut down of the business. This is one of the best films I have seen in many ways. But, one thing in particular stood out for me about this film that was the story behind the story. The entire film is about changing your thinking.
The employees of the Price & Sons Ltd shoe factory are faced with many challenges to change their thinking of their work product, their relationships with each other, their relationship with their new boss and their ideas about a particular drag queen who provides the drive behind the new niche market .¨ high-heeled boots and shoes for drag queens. In one scene in the film, the drag queen, Lola challenges a brawny male employee to change his mind about someone. When you watch this film, you will be amazed at the outcome. I was.
The thing about this film is that most of the people do change their thinking about everything. In doing so, they work together, the factory is saved and camaraderies are formed that would have been highly unlikely, if not completely impossible, in the past. To me, this film clearly shows that when we change our thinking to one that is open-hearted, encompassing and team-oriented, our life is more productive, fuller and happier. Everyone wins.
We can learn from the film and apply the challenge to change to our own life. Who do we hate today? Who do we hold a grudge against? Who do we think is weird or perverted? Who do we think is unworthy of kindness, compassion and understanding? Think of the people you judge as less valuable or less worthy than yourself. Think of the judgments and prejudices against others you may think are justified, although the truth is, none are justified. Judgments and prejudices come from fears. Most of these fears were either taught to you or experienced by you as a child and no longer apply to your life today. Upon introspection, this will become apparent to you. These are all areas where we can challenge ourselves to change our perception. No matter what you think about someone or were taught to think about someone, know that you don’t have to think that today. There is another way .¨ you can think something else. There is always another option available to you. It is up to you whether you are willing to choose that option or not.
Change is a given. In fact,everything changes all the time. Within us exists the power to change our minds about anything that does not work in our favor .¨ and by that I mean anything that doesn’t bring us peace, improved health and love. When we align our thoughts with our heart, we are open to experiencing life in a way that involves us rather than simply repeats the past. We are able to forge new relationship and new partnerships. We are able to fully experience life in the present moment rather than relying solely on past thinking for our life experience. It is this change in our thinking that pushes us to move forward, to get off the stagnant path full of pond scum and mosquitoes and to gain a fresh perspective on life.
Changing our thinking is a way to change our life for the better. Making changes that open our heart not only empowers us, it allows us to be who we really are and allows us to transform our life into the life we truly want. We deserve to grow. We deserve to have a life that reflects who we are at our core. And we deserve to be free to think and live in a way that is aligned with all that is connected to and expressive of love.
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