Freedom – it's your choice

June 2, 2008 by  
Filed under Serenity Space

Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm

~unknown

Freedom. It conjures up so many thoughts and images, doesn’t it?

This month, as I was mulling over what to write about here in Serenity Space about our theme of the month – Freedom – I realised I was starting to letting my inner perfectionist take over. Do you have one of them? You know, the “it won’t be good enough” and the “it needs to be perfect” and the “why do you think you can write on this?” voices in your head?

And then I realised what I was doing. I call it catastrophising… thinking about what would happen if the words didn’t come. And how terrible that would be. (I won’t go into details, because really, they were pathetic. Suffice to say they didn’t make me feel good at all… as those holes we sink ourselves in are never positive.)

Once I’d yelled at myself (quietly) it came to me.

Possibly the most precious, and certainly the most personal of all freedoms is the freedom to think our own thoughts.

We have the power to choose what thoughts we allow in our heads.

And this freedom, more than any other, is the foundation of a happy, successful, fulfilling life. Every single day.

What we think – about what has happened, what is happening right now, and what may or may not happen in the future – is our choice.

And what we think, as we’re learning more and more, directly affects not only our behaviour, but all that happens in our life.

Stop for a minute and just think about how powerful exercising this simple, very personal, freedom can be…

(I’ll pop the thinking music on for you)

You’re back?

So, did you find the power resonate with you? Or are you like so many of us, that as soon as you had ‘thinking time’ your mind took off with thoughts unbidden? Did you start to think about all those times when those horrible, sad, worrying, anxious thoughts crowd your mind and make you feel terrible? Did you think “I cannot control my thoughts… they come unbidden… my thoughts are me, so how can I control what I think?”

I am the first to admit it can be difficult. Especially at three in the morning when you awake to a terrible feeling of imminent doom.

But you can do it. You are not your thoughts.

You can grasp this freedom with both hands and take control of your mind.

Three simple ways to gain freedom over your thoughts

Make up your own mind. Don’t let anyone tell you what to think. Listen to them, then make up your own mind. That includes making up your own mind about what you’re reading here :-)

Freedom is just Chaos, with better lighting

~Alan Dean Foster “To The Vanishing Point”

Notice when your thoughts are out of control. It’s about stepping outside yourself for long enough to see what your thoughts are doing. I believe it’s a learned skill – I can stop myself much more quickly now than ever before. Noticing may be enough to stop those nasty, terrible thoughts in their tracks – or you may need a simple strategy to distract yourself. I like to do a crossword puzzle or read a book to quieten my mind. Find something that works for you.

When unattended, our thinking runs our lives without our even knowing it. Attended with mindful awareness, we have a chance not only to know ourselves better, and see what is on our minds, but also to hold our thoughts differently, with greater wisdom, so they no longer rule our lives.

~Jon Kabat-Zinn “Arriving at your own Door”

Stay in the present moment. Don’t get lost somewhere in another place, time or dimension. More than likely, if you’re even a little like the rest of us, your mind gets out of control when you let it brood about the past or fret about the future. If you stay in the right here, right now – all those regrets and maybe’s don’t have a chance to invade.

Would you share with us your ways of taking control of your thoughts? Let’s get the conversation happening…

Comments

One Response to “Freedom – it's your choice”
  1. Chris says:

    Having been away and only just finding the time to sit down and settle into a Calm Space, I am astounded that no-one has commented on your thoughts before now!
    Your three tips are OH SO PRACTICAL and achievable!
    As a woman sometimes prone to letting her wayward thoughts take her down dark pathways and into scary forests, it’s important to be reminded that I have the choice to curb those thoughts.
    It’s especially important to be reminded that my thoughts are not me! Hmmm. While I kinda know that, your words set off a bit of an “aha” in my head. So thanks
    It’s only of very recent times that it has even occurred to me that my opinions are valid.
    I am so prone to assuming that someone having a conflicting opinion must mean that I’m wrong, so it was like a breath of fresh air to hear you say “most personal of all freedoms is the freedom to think our own thoughts.”
    Well that’s given me PLENTY to think about!