Become an Observer of Your Thoughts
12.14.20 If we really want to grow into our true selves as God created us to be, if we really want to be able to love God with all of ourselves, we first have to understand who and what we have become in the years we have spent on this earth. To do this we have to take a deep look at what we think about all the time—our preoccupations, the inconsistencies between our ideals and our actual behavior, the dichotomies between our outer behavior and speech and our inner judgments and prejudices. We will want to bring our inner and outer selves into harmony.
The first step in this process is to be totally aware of how we think and what our judgments and prejudices are. If we sit in silence or try to, all the thoughts that bother us will arise to the surface as we try to sit quietly. I know that when I first tried to meditate, I would run kicking and screaming from the couch where I sat, because I couldn’t stand those old repetitive thoughts. They had been with me from childhood and I hated them. A few months later I tried again, and this time I was able to sit with them, because by then I could understand the value of meditating. It really does help us to begin to sit in peace—eventually—with all that goes on in our minds. I learned to become an observer of my thoughts, to think about the source of each one, and to be able to see them for what they are—the shoulds or judgments about us that we first heard in our childhoods—and no longer react to them emotionally.
For me, there were the ones about being on time—from my parents. Also, from my parents and from my Aunt Grace (who couldn’t stay on a long distance phone call for more that 2 minutes no matter who was paying), there were all the admonishments to save money. There were all the criticisms of me—about my dress, my manners, my behavior. And much more. As I began to name the sources, I began to see that little of what I thought about myself was really relevant today. It belonged in the past. It was rooted in my failure as a small child to follow what my parents were asking of me. And the more that I could just observe those judgments of me and just treat them like old friends, the more I could rest in God’s presence and let them be.
These thoughts, I am convinced, are with us until the day we die, although for a long time I hoped they would go away eventually. At least, after some time, they ceased to cause any emotional response in me. Now I just see them as parts of me that belong to the child that I was. As an observer of my thoughts, I see what I’ve been through, but I know that it has no relevance any more.
Now years later I am aware of another level of influence these thoughts had on me. I was so self-conscious and shy as a young adult that I downplayed who I was, content to stay in the background while my husband performed before large audiences and even appeared on TV and radio during the time we were fighting nuclear proliferation. But in spite of that shyness and self-effacement I really did wish to be seen for who I am. It has come up again lately as I seek to publish two more books, when I have been unable to sell the two books I had already self-published. The trouble with my wish to be invisible and my life as a writer is that they don’t go together. It’s not that I want to promote myself as a writer, but I do want to promote the ideas I’ve written with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So I am having to confront my inclination to stay in the background with my need to promote the ideas I’ve written about.
It’s not easy to change after all these years and yet I think that is what God is asking me to do. So I am giving up my reluctance to be in the public eye, knowing that it doesn’t serve my purpose, while at the same time keeping the focus on God, not on me. Only God can heal those age-old habits of mine; and then He will show me how to promote the ideas and not me.
What thoughts linger in you from your childhood that are clearly not relevant today, but still bother you? Pray to God for help in distancing yourself from them, so that you can just observe them and not react to them. And then, watch how over time He will change how you relate to them. And, as you are freed from their influence, you will notice that God will be asking you to revel in that freedom in some new way! You can be sure of it!