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Inquiry: Don’t Believe Everything You Think

March 10, 2019 by Diane

Three weeks into the LIFE XT program. If you want to follow along from the beginning, start here.

The first week, I meditated daily as instructed. Ditto for the second week. The third? Not so much. I skipped several days, choosing instead to nestle under the covers on those cold winter mornings.

As instructed, I added exercise in the second week. Three sessions of aerobic, one session non-aerobic.

The instructions for week three are:

Question one stressful thought each day immediately before or after meditation.

This is called “Inquiry.” The idea is to evaluate whether there’s any truth to the stressful thought, become aware of how crummy that thought makes your feel, and consider replacing it with a healthier thought.

Since I had already mastered dysfunctional thinking, this week would be a breeze.

Or so I thought.

On my afternoon aerobic walk, I became aware of a voice in my head calling me stupid. And not just stupid. It called me stupid-stupid. Which is stupidity, doubled.

What’s that all about?

Ah, yes. The missing paragraph.

In my last post, some editorial wackiness deleted a paragraph about The Sweet Shop (which is now intact, so feel free to zip over and read it). Therefore, my reference to The Sweet Shop made zero sense. At least, that’s what I believed. Further, I believed that anyone reading the post with the missing paragraph would think: What’s the deal with The Sweet Shop? It makes no sense. And probably go to sleep dwelling on the stupidity of that blog post and my writing abilities in general.

Stressful thought.

I ran it through the Inquiry process:

Is the thought true?

Uh…no.

What happens when you believe that thought?

I lose five inches of height.

What would you be without the thought?

Taller.

What healthier thought could you think instead?

Nobody noticed.

Nobody noticed!

Which, upon further reflection, could qualify as a stressful thought, if nobody noticed because nobody follows my blog. But I chose not to go there, tempting as it may have been.

As the week progressed, I became aware of other stressful thoughts.

I’m overwhelmed!

I don’t have enough time!

I can’t get everything done I want to get done, and I don’t even know what I want to get done!

And so on, circling around to some variation of:

I’m a failure.

Which, I know, isn’t true. But isn’t it interesting, the tricks the mind plays on us?

And why is that? Can’t the mind think of better ways to keep us on our toes? Like, with riddles? I’d much rather inquire about why the chicken crossed the road than whether there’s any validity to the thought that I’m overwhelmed. Which, by the way, is true. I am overwhelmed.

I ran it through the Inquiry process:

What happens when you believe that thought?

I feel more overwhelmed.

What would you be without the thought?

Less overwhelmed?

What healthier thought could you think instead?

I have the choice of how to spend my time.

I could spend it like a tornado, accomplishing as many things on my to-do list as possible in one hour and then rewarding myself with a period of relaxation. Or I could spend it de-cluttering my physical and mental space so I had a better idea of what needed doing, and whether or not I wanted to do it in the first place. I could sit on the beach gazing at the ocean for hours and feel how time is endless (even though it’s far too cold to sit outside anywhere). Or I could set a deadline to complete ONE THING, then do that ONE THING to the best of my ability and consider it DONE.

That was the key. Getting to DONE. Because my perfectionism wouldn’t allow me to let go.

Another stressful thought.

Those pesky thoughts kept popping up, like that game, Whac-A-Mole, where a mole pops up randomly from a hole and you whack it with a mallet.

By the end of the week, I was using the Inquiry process to inquire about Inquiry, which made my head pulse. Yes, it’s useful to question my dysfunctional thoughts, view them through another lens and release them. But it’s also useful to remind myself that the reason I’m having stressful thoughts is because I’m stressed. It’s a symptom of being out of balance. The weather is cold, the wind is blowing, I have many tasks I’m paid to accomplish at work, I have many projects I wish to accomplish at home. These things unsettle my constitution. I need to resettle. Get to bed earlier. Wear a hat, scarf and gloves when walking in the cold. Eat warm, soothing foods. Be diligent in meditating. Massage my feet and palms with warm oil before sleep. Allow myself time to do nothing every day. These things bring my body and mind back into balance.

And those stressful thoughts? As long as I’m aware of becoming unbalanced, and make corrections, those thoughts won’t need to pop up to alert me to the fact, like some random mole in a Japanese arcade game.


10 Comments »

  1. I wish you had a “like” button. I don’t always want to comment on someone’s post, but I want to let them know I like it.

  2. candidkay says:

    I am loving the self-care inherent in this post. We have to crawl before we can walk and see a lot of us taking the small actions to a better life. Rooting for you and your new habits . ..

  3. Joan says:

    I feel very unsettled over here at the moment. It’s freezing and hailing nonstop! My cat is trapped outside and I am trapped inside with Erin’s dog whom I’m dog sitting for the rest of the week. I can’t get him home and I can’t get Jack inside. I’m very overwhelmed and not the least bit happy! But instead I can think thank God I have a roof over my head and I’m not trapped outside in this craziness! I just wish my cat was inside ☹️

    • Diane says:

      And…we lost an hour from our day! Well, not really. We just muck around with our clocks twice a year. Sorry to hear you’re unsettled! No hail here, but brrr, it’s cold! And cloudy. That always dampens my mood. On the upside, you have two stories in which to roam. Unlike my teensy tiny cottage where the only place to roam is into the bathroom. Which is why I’m heading out to get groceries. Maybe stop at the library. Because…when don’t I stop at the library?

  4. Joan says:

    Or here you go…I just looked out my front window and saw a little boy running around the court with a football helmet on, rain boots and jacket…he’s not going to let the hail storm bother him…he’s going to embrace it!

  5. Nancy Clark says:

    I am going to adopt as my mantra for the next few weeks your comment: I have the choice of how to spend my time. Maybe that will remind me not to stress so much. Thanks for the tip!

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