Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. (Mahatma Gandhi)
As a thinker, writer, and human being, I spend all my time working with human thoughts and beliefs. These mental constructs are, as Gandhi suggests, all-powerful. For better or worse, strength or weakness, abundance or poverty, we are all very much the product of our mental activity, our internal dialogue and the voices in our heads.
Thoughts (whether fleeting or recurring), and beliefs (whether shifting or steadfast), have a direct impact upon human feelings, words, and deeds—the visible and “lived” life of human beings.
Thoughts and beliefs shape and contour every human being’s life; whether directly or indirectly, they are the source of life expectations and interpretations. These occur in an ongoing and reciprocally determining way much like the classic “chicken versus egg” conundrum.
We are, to a large extent, the thoughts we think. We may literally become our beliefs. Whether positive or negative, strengthening or weakening, enhancing or constricting, our mental activity determines our real or perceived life experience. Along with the ever-shifting tides of history, culture, and other variables of happenstance, it is ultimately true, as Shakespeare wrote, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Our thoughts, beliefs, expectations, and interpretations are subjective, relative, varying, and even arbitrary.
There is great potential for detachment, choice, and personal power in this realization. For those battling depression, there is always the power of immediate thought-stopping—recognizing the familiar emergence of distressing thoughts and literally refusing to go there while deliberating choosing to energize around a new and more uplifting idea. For those seeking more positive or hope-filled outcomes in daily life, there is the power of affirmations, mantras, or gratitude journaling. For more spiritually empowered folks, there are a variety of meditative practices (from breathing to writing to yoga to walking) to quiet the mind and quell anxiety. For those more intellectually minded, there is a new opportunity to see through the socialization and educational messaging of a time in place in culture and history that give power to arbitrary assumptions, definitions, and judgments that may or may not validate or favour an individual or group in society.
As part of my own spiritual writing practice—my inner journal journey that includes all kinds of intentionally affirming thoughts and beliefs intended to augment my inner and outer life–I ask for the gentle release of all limiting, weakening, or constricting thoughts and beliefs each morning. This includes the ones I am aware of and the ones I have not yet recognized in my socialized, conditioned, and educated self
I am aware that my thoughts and beliefs affect how I feel, what I say, and how I act or react in any given situation. There are days when I go into further detail, examining and working with the ones that are in my awareness or ones that have created real or perceived problems in my life. Although this inner work will never be “done,” I know that I am better off for my ongoing recognition, my openness to the power of the mind. It is just something I do to get closer to who I really am so that I am better able to be and see with wisdom, wonder and wellness. It is also my hope that it also brings me in some small way creatively closer and more connected to you.