Change is not just about your thoughts
I recently watched the film “The Living Matrix” which features the work of a number of people involved in examining how our world actually works. It was a good film in many ways and explained well some of the top-level notions about quantum physics and the interconnectedness of life.
One of the things I noticed was the usual preponderance of people pronouncing that our thoughts determine so much in our lives, and the mention of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). Speaker after speaker emphasized the importance of our thoughts and how they affect us.
There was a small portion of the film that discussed the power of emotions and the power of the heart, and then the focus shifted back to the brain and thoughts. If one only had access to the material presented here, one could conclude that changing one’s thoughts was the key to better health, peace and happiness.
For a long time, I was in that same camp. I studied NLP and Hypnosis (Ericksonian Hypnosis was the basis for NLP), read books, took courses, listened to lectures, etc., etc. all about how to improve my mind. I can’t recall exactly when and how, but eventually an awareness in me was triggered – we’re not our thoughts and changing them is not the answer, but only part of the process of transformation.
The danger of specialization
I’ve written before about the conceit of the prefrontal cortex, that part of our brain that thinks it is charge and tries to overcome our emotions. One of the dangers of being too specialized is that one can miss all kinds of other information that lies on the periphery of our focus. This is what I observed when watching The Living Matrix. I saw a series of people, with brilliant minds and incredible aptitude, focusing almost all their attention on just one part of what makes up the complex beings that we are – our brains and thoughts.
What was missing from the film, and it is a big omission, is a discussion of how we are made up of, at the very least:
- our emotions
- our body sensations
- our thoughts
- our beliefs
- our memories
- our consciousness filters
- our ways of being.
Humans are a complex organism and our various aspects are intertwined to such a degree that we must take a “whole person” view to properly honor our reality. We must acknowledge that each one of these aspects affects all the others. Our thoughts do not stand alone nor do they drive the ship that is us.
To effect any substantial change in ourselves, we need to have our various aspects in alignment and agreement – we need to have congruency. The evidence to support this notion is all around us – many people say they want one thing, and yet it never appears in their life. They might blame all kinds of external factors, but it does not take very long to discover that their actions do not match their words and underneath there is dissension. They might have a life-long fear of success or a preconceived negative notion about their own self-worth or a belief that it takes too much effort to attain that goal. It could also be dozens and dozens of other factors, any one of which is enough to introduce incongruency and internal dissension.
All together now
If one has the intention to change some aspect of one’s life, then one needs to become aware of how each of the various aspects is affecting the movement toward that goal. One needs to benignly notice the beliefs, the thoughts, the emotions, the memories, the body sensations, etc ,which are evoked when this goal is contemplated. Anything which is out of alignment needs to be gently brought into alignment. If a fear is present, for example, it must be released using some sort of technique such as AER. If a limiting belief is present, it needs to be acknowledged and released as well. The same is needed for all aspects which are not congruent with the movement toward the goal, and this is more a project of releasing blocks and dissension than it is about forcing oneself into conformity.
Next time you hear or read someone say that one needs to change one’s thoughts, remember that you are not your thoughts – they come and go, thousands of times during each day. Your thoughts influence you, yes. So do your emotions, your beliefs, your memories, your body sensations, etc..
Take a “whole person” approach, get your aspects into alignment, and you may be surprised at how much easier it is to obtain your goals.
Copyright 2009, Robert S. Vibert, all rights reserved