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How Is Your Happiness Like the Weather?

podcast May 05, 2020

Can't listen? Here's the transcript: 

Hey Dethroners!  This week in my Mastering Your Mind program, we are talking about designing your future using a completely different mind...and here is where everyone gets tripped up with designing a new future: Everyone wants to find a way to feel good. And most people think that the way to feel good is to make sure that our lives moving forward match our pictures. 

But in a sense, this is what we do when we are trying to design our future the way we want it to go.  Our ability to imagine the future is actually hard-wired into our DNA.  It has helped us to survive in some cases because as human beings, we have the unique ability to plan for the future.  But here’s where imagining our future can backfire, and cause all of our suffering: What if you thought it was your job to make sure it was sunny and 80 degrees outside every day?  That is completely stressful because it’s not possible. 

But much in the same way, We have this every day. Our mind speaks to us all day long and when we listen to those thoughts to try to figure out who we are and what we want our lives to be, it is a setup. 

Because what most people don’t know is that our thinking is NOT the center of who we are and it isn’t the way to discover who we are and what we want. For instance, you can imagine that you are at the beach.  You can close your eyes, and feel the sun on your face, the sand in between your toes, the wind in your hair, you can see the beautiful green water, you can hear the seagulls, you can even smell the ocean!  And you can do this all without going to the beach!  Thinking is hearing words in your head. 

It is speaking inside your mind. But your brain hears those words as though they are actual facts like they are being spoken into your ear.  But they are not--you are only imagining those thoughts but you don’t realize that you are imagining them.  You think what those thoughts say is the real truth. And then, you actually talk back to those thoughts! 

Most people are so overly identified with these thoughts that they don’t know that they have any other options.  So we use our thinking to know who we are and what our lives are supposed to be. And then we look at our future through our thinking mind and we see all the ways that we don’t measure up to our imagined selves and our imagined lives, and we imagine a future where all of those things are fixed or changed.

So we spend our lives trying to find solutions to the problems that our thinking mind creates. Our thinking mind tells us we are less than so we try to figure out how to not be less than. It tells us who we need to be, how others need to be, and what our lives are supposed to be.

This thinking mind is the mind that I call our Inner Critic.  And I use the term Inner Critic to really mean ALL thought. Because even when the Inner Critic is critiquing something as GOOD, we are still listening to that thought to define our identity. 

So if meeting a goal means we are now good enough, it fuels the opposite thought that if we don’t meet a goal, we are NOT good enough. It’s not just identifying with the negative thoughts in your head that causes suffering. It is identifying with ANY thoughts in your mind. 

ALL of the Automatic thoughts you hear are NOT YOU TALKING. You start by listening to the thoughts, then you believe the thoughts, then you identify with the thoughts.  You need to move beyond just choosing good thoughts over bad thoughts.  Choosing not to listen to the content of automatic thinking is the way out of identifying with your Inner Critic. 

It doesn't matter if the thoughts are negative or positive.  When we are engaged in the work of dethroning your Inner Critic, we aren’t interested in stopping thoughts.  Instead, we want to shift all thoughts to the back of our mind.  Automatic thoughts are nothing more than mental sensations-- inner vibrations.  If we can learn to not consciously engage in them, they can fall into the background.  We have to stop tuning into thoughts to get our identity.  You don’t need to monitor or pay attention to your thoughts, because listening to your Inner Critic and mistaking it for YOU is just a habit we can learn to change.  

Almost all of our repetitive thought patterns can be viewed as forms of addictions.  Addiction to anything is trying to stimulate the part of our brain that seeks pleasure.  The word “addiction” is derived from a Latin word for “enslaved by” or “bound to.” So addiction is being bound to something that we are using to get a surge of dopamine.  

We seek the pleasurable experience of good thoughts, so we look for what circumstances will bring us pleasure that we have experienced in the past.  When we were little children, something happened that made us feel like there was something wrong.  We don’t even need to remember what it was.  But we all had a moment where we felt emotional pain.  And that is when the addiction to thinking first began. 

We looked to our thinking mind to find the solution as to how to not feel that pain again. That is the moment we became the people pleaser or the overachiever or the pretty one or the smart one or the funny one.  This is the part of our thinking mind that says, “You must be this and your life must be that, otherwise you are in some way not good enough.” 

And every time you felt pleasure from the compliment or the achievement or the love or the attention, the dopamine surge became addictive.  And as in any addiction, you need more and more of it to achieve the pleasure. This is why no matter how much we accomplish our goals, or get what we think we need, it never brings us sustained pleasure.  It is always fleeting, because our Inner Critic mind will always find the next problem to solve, the next goal to fulfill.  

Shifting out of Inner Critic thought, we can establish a natural bliss as a new baseline for living.  That is when we no longer need the things our Inner Critic has said we need in order to be happy.  We can still have goals and dreams that we are going for, but we don’t NEED those things in order to be happy.  Those things become preferences, as opposed to demands.  

When you move from identifying with your thoughts to observing your thoughts, you are hearing the background chatter, but become disinterested in what the thoughts say.  You Just become interested in the space in between YOU and your Inner Critic mind. Then you can just listen to the background chatter as though it is a foreign language.  You can be aware of the voice without being identified with it.  You can let all of your mental comments be nothing more than mental sensations. 

This is breaking the habit of believing that you and your Inner Critic are one and the same. The most powerful life you can live is when you know the difference between you and your Inner Critic. 

When our Inner Critic thinking looks through our eyes, we have our idea of who we are and what life is supposed to be that is really just a bunch of opinions, points of view and thoughts that we have been thinking for forever. So the true key to living a life of peace, joy, contentment and fulfillment is that we have to stop turning to our minds. 

Our mind will never stop saying the same recycled thoughts that we have been thinking for forever.  It will always have the automatic thoughts.  But we can stop the continuous dialogue we have with it.  It’s interacting with our thinking mind that creates all of our fear, anger, sadness, overwhelm and dissatisfaction. 

We argue with our thoughts and talk back to them. Whether we are aware of them or not, they keep coming. It’s all random commentary like a tape playing over and over-- tens of thousands of thoughts per day that are the same thoughts over and over. 

We think that if we have thoughts, we have to check them out.  But the truth is that most of our thoughts are not important enough to check out and are not even relevant to the moment we are in. Once in a while, we have an important thought, like “Watch out for that car.”  But most thoughts are irrelevant. For years, my alarm would go off and within 30 seconds I had found a problem that I would then focus on. And those waking thoughts could range from feeling anxious about goals I had not yet achieved to negatively comparing myself to people who had achieved those goals, to an entire scenario in my mind that I had in some way disappointed someone, to what I need to fix and change within someone else.  And this was all before my feet hit the ground!

And that’s because for years, I was unaware that my Inner Critic told me that I was less than and so I was addicted to finding the solutions to not be less than. So if I could meet all of my business goals, get my kids to make the right choices and act the right way and get everyone to love me all of the time, that would make me not feel less than.  And I was stuck in this thought loop for years!  And it caused a whole lot of suffering!  In my relationships, in my business, in what I thought I was capable of!

If we are always believing our thoughts, and lost in our thoughts, we are always suffering.   When we step away from them, that is when we experience relief.  We need to have the ability to have awareness of our thoughts from a place that is NOT our thoughts.  Instead of looking from our thoughts, we need to instead look AT them.  

Eckert Tolle says, "Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them." We need to stop using our thinking as what we are knowing.  When we are swallowed by our Inner Critic and think that our Inner Critic mind is us, then one thought refers to the next thought that creates the next thought that creates a loop that makes us feel that there is a problem we need to fix or solve or find a solution for. 

We need to step back from thinking, see it as separate, and allow our inner chatter to pass-- that is the most important skill to master.

This work is not about lessening our suffering by changing our thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and circumstances. The dethroning your Inner Critic work is the opposite of that. Instead of adding or subtracting thoughts, emotions, attitudes, behaviors, we are instead letting our automatic mind run its machinery and we are relocating to a different part of our mind. 

We are shifting our awareness to a completely different view of the same conditions.  De-centering from the Inner Critic identity into a different identity.  We are relocating our identity by no longer identifying with the mini-me small self that is our Inner Critic. 

Instead, we shift the location of the mind through which we are looking at ourselves and our lives. We instead become the one who is witnessing or observing our Inner Critic. We let go of being identified by the Inner Critic and instead we watch it do it’s thing. We witness it saying the same recycled thoughts, drumming up the same recycled fears, convincing us of the same recycled problems we have to fix.   

And with each small glimpse of seeing yourself as separate from your Inner Critic and having small glimpses of this over and over again, you are no longer SO afraid of your uncomfortable emotions. Because you now know that those emotions stem from the automatic thoughts you have been overly identified with. 

You don’t have to change the thoughts or change the emotions.  You can begin to get curious about what the heck you have been buying into for most of your life.  You actually begin to welcome your uncomfortable emotions, because those emotions are the access to observing your automatic thinking mind. 

When you welcome the unpleasant feelings, you begin the detoxing of your addiction to the thoughts.  This is how you rewire old personalities so you can remain centered, no matter what the circumstance is. You stop getting so triggered by your spouse, your kids, your boss, your neighbor, your weight, your bank account, the promotion you didn’t get, the colleague who you’ve been comparing yourself to.  When you are caught again, you simply remember to remember that you are not your Inner Critic.  

Being caught back in the every day mind is like being caught in a storm cloud.  It’s Chaotic, turbulent, filled with fog, wind and lightning. You might feel that ALL that you are, is located in this cloud.  In the cloud, it is a struggle to see clearly. Your vision is foggy and you are being tossed around in the storm.  But when you step out of the cloud and remember to be the witness of your Inner Critic, now you recognize the blue sky.

The stormy contents of the cloud will come!  It’s like the weather-- it changes all the time. Learning to see all of the thoughts and feelings without becoming identified with them is the key. You can see those thoughts and feelings as your habit of thought.  When you shift out of identifying with those thoughts and feelings and just observe them, you have clear skies. You can even have some compassion for your stormy clouds and the clouds of others because that is part of our human journey.  

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