Some Beliefs Are Tough Ones
And while I believe that any stressful thought can loosen and fall away with inquiry, it doesn’t mean that it always does. This seems to be especially true with certain “truths” that the mind attaches to and uses to beat itself up. For example:
I’m too fat.
I’m not good enough.
I don’t fit in.
Notice what the mind does here. It takes something true (maybe I am fat or not good enough) and latches onto it. It then generalizes it to an abstract level that almost can’t be touched by examples to the contrary.
The Mind Is Protecting This Belief Even Though It’s Painful
That’s the strange part. There’s nothing more painful than believing these self-attacking thoughts. But it’s often impossible to pry the mind’s grip off of them.
This tells me one thing: the mind wants to hold onto them. It’s using them for some reason. And usually that reason is a cover up.
If I focus on how “I’m too fat” then I don’t have to own the fact that I’m scared to reach out to people (afraid of rejection). And if I hold onto the idea that “I’m not good enough,” then I have an excuse not to take on more responsibility (afraid of failure).
That’s Why These Thoughts Sometimes Don’t Respond to Inquiry
They are not always the real issue.
The mind is happy to have us focused on “I’m too fat” and going nowhere with it. Meanwhile, it says safe not having to face its bigger fear: making friends or finding a partner.
While questioning “I am fat” can be a very powerful inquiry if the mind is open to it, I sometimes don’t question it. Especially if I’m starting go in circles.
Instead, I Use the “I’m too Fat” Thought as a Temple Bell
Did that temple bell just ring?
What was going on when I had the thought, “I’m too fat,” or in my case, “I’m too skinny”?
If I look around, nine times out of ten, there was something else going on that I was avoiding or was afraid of at that time. Why is the mind seeking solace in this safe, familiar thought at this time?
Then I Question the Source Thoughts
These are often Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets. If I’m suddenly self-conscious around someone, what story am I carrying about her? Maybe she made a comment earlier, or seemed to avoid me. That’s a worksheet I can write.
And when I work my worksheets, I often find that my insecurity becomes less, and my self-judgments fall away without further inquiry on “I’m too fat,” etc. Suddenly, “I’m too fat,” is not a big deal anymore (because the mind is no longer using it to hide).
In many cases, my self-judgements, like “I’m not good enough,” are simply how I react to something else. So instead of questioning them, I question what is causing my self-attack in the first place—usually what I’m believing about something or someone around me.
Let me know your experience.
Have a great week,
P.S. I’m switching to once a week for these newsletters for a while. I may send more often sometimes, but my baseline will be once a week (Mondays) for now.
“Don’t necessarily do The Work on drinking,” I tell them. “Go back to the thought just prior to the thought that you need a drink, and do The Work on that, on that man or woman again, on that situation. The prior thought is what you’re trying to shut down with alcohol. Apply The Work to that. Your uninvestigated thinking is the problem, not alcohol.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is