Freedom from Torture
Today I spoke with someone who was torturing herself with a really nasty thought.
(Actually, I didn’t think it was that bad of a thought, but she said it was literally killing her.)
“Then why are you thinking it?” I asked.
“Because it’s true,” she answered.
Or at least, she suspected it was true, although she really wanted to believe it wasn’t, since it was a thought she couldn’t live with.
“Maybe you should think something else instead,” I suggested.
“How am I supposed to do that, when this is so awful?” she insisted.
Clearly she had no practice in finding thoughts that felt better. And she believed her thought was true.
Talk about the ultimate handicap – believing your thoughts and not knowing how to choose different ones. Sheesh!
She used my silence to repeat again just how horrible her thought/reality was.
Okay, I get it! But repeating it isn’t how we get out from under it!
“That’s one way of looking at it,” I offered.
And then I laid out like seven alternative thoughts, all of which felt way better, but she wasn’t biting. It’s not how she saw it.
Holy mother, I’m wondering, how did she get my number?! Not only that she can’t give herself relief from a horrible thought, but she can’t even pick one up when someone else (a really good professional even) is making one up for her! Wowza.
So she believes in the sh*t that sucks, and doesn’t know how to tear her eyes away from it.
Then I got an idea … “Hey, you know that inner guidance thing? How it doesn’t join us in untrue thoughts? And how it feels really bad when that part of us vacates the premises?”
No, she didn’t know that.
“Well, that’s how it works,” I assured her. “Which means any thought that doesn’t feel good isn’t true.”
“Absolutely not,” I vehemently insisted.
Her silence wasn’t from relief, but from disbelief. I suspect she joined me in wondering why she called me. Because clearly I was insane and of no use to her.
Don’t ask what made me think quantum physics would help the situation.
“Let’s look at it this way. Everything is happening, there’s no such thing as time, and you can experience any of those realities based on how you focus. Isn’t that reason enough to find a different thought?”
“What other thought would I think?” She sounded lost.
But I didn’t cave. “One of love! One of life! One of pleasure!”
Still the crickets. Okay, maybe I should tone it down … “It could be about mailmen or trees or anything!” (I was just naming random things outside the window.)
Still not helping, but she offered me one last chance to ease her tortured mind:
“What do you think about death?”
“Well, I don’t think about it that much.” (Duh, why would I?! I’m not into self-torment!) “But the truth is I don’t believe in it the way lots of others do. I believe there’s no end to who we are. Our bodies, sure. But who we really are – it’s indestructible and infinite. And super cool.”
I suggested she talk with her higher power – whatever that was – and ask for some support there.
She’s not religious, she contended. “Neither am I, and it still works.” (Go figure.)
I hung up feeling rather useless and also astonished at someone who practiced such incredible self torture by repeating the awful thought that didn’t feel good – just because it seems true. I wondered how horrid would it be to live like that.
And then realized, that was me, one week ago. When I cried for 12 hours straight after realizing my blind cat wasn’t home any more. I was under the spell of some heavy duty nasty thoughts, just like my friend was today.
I did try to find my way out, though:
- “Maybe he had another little girl he wanted to live with.” But I want him here.
- “Maybe it was his time.” He’s only three, for hell’s sake. It’s too soon!
- “Maybe he likes living the big adventure.” It wasn’t that bad here. We had good times … Elvis come BACK!
- “Maybe he’s just hiding really well, and he’s actually still here somewhere.” Don’t be ridiculous – he’s GONE!
- “Maybe he’ll come back. Maybe someone will find him. Maybe I’ll find him.”
It was a lot of anguish and misery. It was quite horrible – not just for me, but for everyone around me.
And I couldn’t stop. Until I fell asleep.
Which is when I dreamed of being reunited with my favorite cat.
Sure enough, at 4 am when I didn’t have a single negative conscious thought flowing – that cat came back.
So I get it. Sometimes we get stuck on a really awful thought that seems like we can’t shake.
But, we can. Eventually we’ll cry ourselves into exhaustion, or fall asleep, or realize we were seeing it wrong all along.
Some how some way we’ll get a respite from the torment of repeating the thoughts that don’t feel good. And when we do, we’ll remember how this works.
At least, that’s my intention for the next time I lose my head.
If you’re the unlucky person who is stuck sitting next to me as I empty the kleenex box, you have my permission to remind me of this post. So I can remember how ridiculous it is to keep thinking a thought that feels horrible.
I’ll remember that as I find my way to relief, some way some how, even if it’s crying myself to sleep, I’ll remember that when I give up the battle of the bad thoughts, I create an opening for something good.
And if my cat hadn’t returned, I’d eventually find my way to other thoughts. Because I’m cool like that. I know good times follow bad, that things get better, that I’ll have more friends, that everyone’s fine no matter how it looks like to the contrary in my limited 3D perception, and that I’m not dependent on anyone or anything for how I feel.
This post is designed to remind myself (and anyone else who might benefit from it) the next time we’ve fallen under the spell of a torturous “truth.”
- Everything is actually fine, even if you don’t see that right now.
- If your thought doesn’t feel good, try again.
- If all else fails, sleep is your friend.
That oughta do. 🙂
But if you’ve got words of wisdom to share with someone who is doing the mental flagellation game, please post them here. Many thanks!