Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life

I wanted to thank those of you who gave me feedback about the first newsletter. I’m happy to hear that you found it both timely and useful. I hope this continues to be the case. Today, I’d like to share about a wonderful event I attended recently, as well as continue to explore the qualities of emotional sobriety. In particular in this issue, I’d like to explore the quality of spiritual connectedness. This seems to me to be apropos of this time of year – the “spirit” of the Holiday Season.

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life

Let me start by telling you about a talk I attended by Dr. Wayne Dyer. I’m sure many of you have heard about him or even read one of his many books. His last book is titled: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao.
I found him to be very inspiring and his spiritual message to be timeless. I also loved hearing him say how proud he is to be 20 ½ years sober, one day at a time. He has had what many of us would consider a very difficult early life. His father was alcoholic and abandoned his mother shortly after he was born. There were a lot of children and his mother placed him and his brother in an orphanage, where he was to spend his first 10 years. Although he was angry at his father for a very long time, he has come to realize that this experience was essential on his journey to becoming who he is today. He has no regrets or any bitterness. He sobered up at 47 years old. Since then, he has gone on to be a very influential source of spiritual knowledge in the West. His wisdom comes from his teachers who have been realized masters from the East.

Toxic Thinking

Dr. Dyer’s main message is a familiar one to many of us. It is simply that we are spiritual beings first having a human experience, and not human beings who are trying to have a spiritual experience. That may sound like semantics at first glance, but it is much deeper than just a rearranging of words. Wayne talked about the negative impact of early internalized thoughts, which interfere with our knowing this essential truth about ourselves. This is the focus of his new book, “Excuses No More”, which will be released in May 2009. He calls these conditioned beliefs ‘memes’, which the dictionary defines as: “a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes”.

I know that I fueled much of my life on these harmful messages acquired in a family environment that was defined by negativity. Some examples of these messages might include, “you’re not good enough”; “no one likes you”; “quit trying to be a big shot;”, “you’re too much to handle”, to name a few. These undermining unconscious messages often come from well-meaning parents and teachers, who are simply passing on what they learned. Unfortunately, if we don’t recognize their toxicity, and work on changing how we think and feel about ourselves and the world, it will keep us from fully realizing all that we truly are.

Overcoming Negativity

What I find hopeful is that many more people today are waking up to the fact that we can be the authors of a new generation of memes. It is when we make a conscious effort to change our negative self talk into a powerful and loving care for ourselves, that the Flow of Universal Intelligence can guide our lives. This means that our responsibility is to reduce the toxicity that we continue to fuel in ourselves by believing and perpetuating the ideas that destroy happiness. This does not mean suppressing our truth.

One of the qualities of emotional sobriety I discussed last month was the ability to communicate and define who you are to others. This means truthful expression of feelings, thoughts, desires, dreams, etc. Denial is not conducive to healing. In fact, we must fully feel in order to be present and awakened. Real spiritual growth comes when we are able to accept what we are experiencing – not push it away or judge it as “bad” or “wrong” – as an expression of the “divine.” The transformation to a deeper connection with life occurs through the love and the care we provide ourselves as we give permission to reconnect with split off parts of ourselves and allow others to witness our vulnerability and support us through the process.

Increasing “Ahimsa”

There a Buddhist and Hindu doctrine – “Ahimsa” – which expresses belief in the sacredness of all living creatures and that urges the avoidance of harm and violence. I love this word – the way it sounds – and I love the idea of non-violence, beginning with ourselves. The Dalai Lama recently claimed that if every child on the planet was encouraged to meditate for one hour a week, we could completely end violence on earth in one generation. So, since each of us was once a child, who has most likely experienced or witnessed violence in some form or another, maybe we could all do our part by meditating at least one hour a week on the principle of Ahimsa.
In doing this, we create an opporunity to bring awareness to the ‘memes’ that we carry that are toxic to our well being. Start by noticing two or three main messages that you say to yourself (especially under times of stress), that are damaging, disparaging or outright acts of violence toward yourself. Some examples might include, “why are you so stupid?” or “don’t be such a wimp.” As you notice them, gently say to yourself, “I’m choosing to practice Ahimsa (non-violence with myself) in this moment.” Then replace this negative self-statement with something positive or neutral like, “I’m doing the best I can,” “Everyone makes mistakes”, or “It’s okay to be human.” This simple concept of Ahimsa can become an ongoing resource, helping you to transform the toxicity you inherited to a more peaceful, spiritual relationship with yourself.

Peace in Practice

As you involve yourself in the cultural or religious Holiday festivities of your choice, set a goal to practice Peace with yourself. This is especially important if you are feeling lonely, sad or disconnected. Acknowledge your feelings, and ask yourself what you can do to make it a little easier, a little more joyful for yourself. Reach out for support – or do something fun, like ice-skating, tobogganing or watching a funny movie. By giving to yourself you can, in a very practical way, remember that you are a spiritual being having a human experience, and while having a human experience can certainly be challenging at times, it can be more successfully navigated with a committment of compassionate caring toward ourselves and our fellows.
Wishing you much peace through the holiday season.

Until next year,

Sue Diamond Potts

This newsletter is meant to provide you with information and tips for improving yourself. It is not meant as a substitute for therapy or counselling. Please feel free to forward a copy of Emotional Sobriety Matters (in its’ entirety) to others who may be interested in personal development.

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