Have you ever noticed how much time you spend thinking about what’s in your way (and why it shouldn’t be) before you get into action? Sometimes, of course, the thoughts are subtle and hard to pin down, but that doesn’t stop us from having unsettling or distressing feelings that freeze us in our tracks.
I was speaking with a client recently about how frequently our mental chatter gets in the way of being present with what’s right in front of us and invites our response.
There’s a zen saying I’m fond of that came to mind:
"Leave your front door and your back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don’t serve them tea."
But what so many of us have become accustomed to doing is not only serving our thoughts tea but providing them an all-you-can-eat, 24-hour-a-day buffet and encouraging them to stick around.
That really slows down our ability to do anything other than be distracted by whatever our limiting thoughts are telling us, whether it’s about who we aren’t or why we can’t:
we’re not good enough
we should know better
we don’t have the resources
we’ll get into trouble
no one will like it.
or why something shouldn’t be happening:
they should know better
this is going to be more trouble than it’s worth
this shouldn’t be happening to me.
Where did we get the idea that paying attention to repetitive, negative thinking is going to help us? It’s endemic in our world, and a throwback to a time when negative incentive was considered an effective means of forcing action. But as most of us know, that kind of “incentive” keeps us out of any sense of flow or inspiration and keeps us locked into a continuous feedback loop of negative recrimination. And really, who needs that?
When we realize that the mental chatter that can seem so true and so daunting are just like the smoke and mirrors the Wizard of Oz cranked out behind the curtain, the spell of their power is broken and we no longer need to believe in them.
Not only that, but as Dorothy and her companions discovered, we all have innate intelligence, creativity and courage that automatically rise to the surface when we’re no longer bullied by the thoughts that have kept us small and afraid. That built-in facility for responding to life is available regardless of the challenge, whether mundane or extraordinary.
What could you accomplish if you saw through the smoke and mirrors of your old, worn-out, action-discouraging thinking? Wouldn’t it be fun to find out?