How often have you sat down for a few minutes to chill out, when you start hearing those nagging inner voices asking, “Why are you resting, you know you don’t have time for this!” Get up. Don’t just sit there. You have lots to do. Keep going!” I often wonder when we first start accumulating those critics that are always so ready to make us feel that we just haven’t made the grade yet. I know a lot of it starts when we’re young kids. If you watch toddlers you can see they’re not affected yet by those critics. They’re usually running around, going from one thing to another, yelling when they feel like it, giggling, stopping in awe at a bug crawling along the floor that we would probably kill instantly. We are so over being dazzled by a bug. We’re on to Smart Phones and how exciting it is to have them be able to remind us of what we need to do. Kids are so wrapped up in their delightful, adventurous activities, and so totally involved, that it’s no wonder the universal mantra for parents is “Please look at me, I’m talking to you!” We hope that if they look at us, it will break the spell. I realize that all of us need some discipline in our lives and certainly we should become responsible and accountable. Unfortunately some of us have been overburdened with messages that taught us to always be vigilant as to what we need to do. Somewhere along the way we have forgotten how to enjoy life along with being responsible. We have become one with our “to do list”. It has taken me years to allow myself not to be at the mercy of my mothers’ voice. Many of her messages made sense, but her constant need to make sure that tasks had to be completed before you could have fun became one I carried around for years. I remember making sure my room was neat even though I could barely get out of bed due to a high fever and the flu. “What if someone came over with some chicken soup and they saw my bedroom in disarray”? After all there is a bedroom police isn’t there? I finally realized that it doesn’t matter. What’s really important is to realize that the internal critics you’ve inherited can be dismissed. To become your most authentic self you have to find your own voice. In the end you really have the last word.
Much of our stress and emotional suffering comes from the way we think. Thoughts are the foundation that helps to create our lives. When there are a myriad of distorted, negative and unrealistic ones, the foundation cracks and we end up feeling crazed and humorless. Much of the way we think is akin to a plane on autopilot. We forget that we can take the controls and navigate ourselves, but it is so much easier not to. Years of conditioning have created automatic responses. Think of some of the situations you’ve encountered. You’re in the parking lot looking for a space. You can’t seem to find one so you begin to assume that “something is going on”. You don’t know what it is, but why else would you be having so much trouble finding a spot. The more you ride around the more frustrated you get. Since you’ve convinced yourself you will probably not be able to find a space, you’re only focus is to continue to” not find one”. Even if there was one right in front of your eyes you wouldn’t see it. Let’s say you go to the movies and your intention is to make sure you find a seat with no one in front of you. Let’s face it, everyone is looking for the “right seat”. A young couple with children sit in front of you and they all have big heads and lots of hair. You start thinking, ”Oh no!, not again!, This always happens to me. It never fails, I always get people in front of me with fat heads. You could move if there are other seats, but sometimes we become so trapped by our distortions that we can’t focus on looking for another seat. We would rather continue the drama by escalating the negativity. “Now my night is ruined”. “That’s it, I’m never going to the movies again”. We lose total perspective and make announcements that are geared to enhance our inability to make rational choices. The chances that you will never go to another movie until the day you die is ludicrous. I do less of the above, but every once in awhile I get into my “stinking thinking”, especially when I can’t find something. The other day I found one of the pair of shoes I wanted to wear. I was convinced someone took the other one, but who could that be? I don’t think my partner Kenny is interested in wearing one black high heel. But then who knows. I finally found it under the bed, but not until I drove myself nuts. Oh well, I’m not perfect!