Every once in a while there’s that confluence of stuff that comes together in your life and you see things so much more clearly. It’s a perfect storm of change.
And that happened for me this week.
First, I heard that writer Marianne Williamson is hosting a year-long audio class on The Course in Miracles on Oprah.com, so I clicked over and checked it out. This will tell you a lot about me — the course is designed so that you listen to a daily message, then reflect and do exercises. You are to do one lesson daily. Only one, no more.
Of course, I listened to nine lessons the first day. Then skipped over to lesson 48. Then back to lesson 11. What can I say? I’m curious.
Then, the thoughtful, sensible writer-coach Cheryl Richardson recommended a movie called “You Can Heal Your Life”, so I watched that online. The film, based on the work of Louise Hay, explores the power of thoughts. Like the course Marianne Williamson is teaching, the overarching idea is that your thoughts create your reality — but your thoughts are not always based in what’s happening now. They are often reactions to what’s happened in the past.
I know all this stuff. See, I do personal development work for a living. All day, everyday, I challenge people to look at things in new ways and to try new things. And every assignment I ever give a client is something I’ve done myself. So, given all that, I was pretty confident (smug) of my own enlightenment.
At some point as the film rolled, I realized my jaw was hanging open and I hastily grabbed a pencil stub and the back side of someone’s homework and began taking notes.
And as my mind exploded, I wrote these questions:
- What do I complain about most?
- When are things uncomfortable for me?
- What do I resent?
- Where is my thinking not helping me?
Great questions, huh? Willing to answer them yourself?
Because when you do, you will see something really important and useful.
The root of most of our unhappy thoughts is fear. Fear that we’re not good enough. Fear that we won’t have enough. Fear that we’ll be abandoned. Fear that we’ll literally or figuratively die.
When I looked at where my thinking was not helping me, I laughed out loud. Wanna know why? Next month I’m going on a trip with my kids. A trip which will require bathing suits and shorts. I absolutely convinced myself that due to a period of relative inactivity (hey! I hurt my ankle!) I am so fat that none of last year’s summer clothes would possibly fit. In fact, it was likely I’d have to trade those size 10s for, oh, size 18s. If I dieted.
So, yesterday when no one was home but me, I took a deep breath and tried on last year’s shorts. Amazingly, they fit. Like a little gopher popping out of her hole, I sat up and took notice. Feeling brave, I pulled the swimsuits out of their hiding place under an old bathrobe. In front of a full length mirror, ladies, I tried them on.
They fit, too.
It was only my thoughts about my body that had created an environment where I felt plain bad about myself. The reality was something much different.
And at the bottom of it was our old friend, fear. Fear of being flabby. Fear of being less than. Fear of not being good enough. Maybe fear of getting older. The sweet spot to explore is this: why was that fear working for me? Because it must have been working on some level, or I wouldn’t have held on to it.
When you objectively look at your thoughts and completely understand where they come from, then and only then can you change them into something more inspiring, more embracing, more…true.
Who would you allow yourself to be if you had no fear? A nearly 48 year old woman in a bikini, perhaps? Hey, to paraphrase Franklin Roosevelt, all you have to fear is your thoughts, themselves.