It started as a week long Mind Chatter exercise for the Creativity & Personal Mastery class, where I wrote down the thoughts in my head periodically during the day, and the emotional tenor that I felt at the time (and whether they felt positive or negative). At the end of the week, I gathered the half-dozen pages of thoughts I had managed to capture, and categorized them. What I discovered is that I tend think about the same thing, over and over and over. Or if not the same thing, the same type of thing. Often like a broken record. It pointed out how insanely redundant, pointless, and often negative my thoughts are.
This was the beginning to becoming aware of my thoughts. Over time, this exercise has transformed into a check when I’m feeling frustrated or annoyed. I survey what thoughts I have been having, what the intent is behind them, and what the emotional undertone is (irritation, frustration, fear, thoughtfulness, grace, loving kindness…)
A few months after using this exercise, I found myself feeling irritated that I had so many negative thoughts in my head. I was staring in the mirror having this argument with myself, almost punishing myself for having such negative dialog going around in my head. But then, something inside of me intervened, and I realized that my mental dialog at that moment was just negative mental dialog about… having negative mental dialog. And with a weird expression on my face, I realized that this was not just silly, but really, really silly. Even more importantly, in that moment, I realized that it was possible to let go of the negativity and shift to a more useful dialog by just letting go, even while there were certain uncomfortable feelings still inside of me.
Just letting it go wasn’t a new concept, but it was new understanding what this felt like – to be firm with myself and tell myself that the thought I wanted to think no longer served me, and to allow something new to arise. I didn’t need to force myself to think differently – instead, I had to recognize that it didn’t fulfill the purpose I believed it did, and that in fact, the thought had no purpose.