Ask the deeper questions

A flood of questions follows horrifying actions like the Boston Marathon bombing. Who is to blame? How did it happen? Why? Could we have stopped it? Can we keep it from happening again? We analyze each incident with an excruciatingly complex compilation of details. We hope for answers from the accumulation of minutiae.

Shouldn’t we also ask the deeper questions, the questions that would generalize speexploding mindcific events to insights about the universal nature of fury, hatred, alienation, dissociation in human beings? Have we taken seriously the critical need to truly understand and address mental health, not only here, but across the globe? What erupts within the human heart and mind to inflame the rage to kill?  Could anything inhibit the rabidity that fuels terror? Could people ever see how to create and sustain peace and stability?

In order to fully prevent — to eradicate — anything, the source must be clearly identified. Until the root cause is certain, prevention is randomly effective and situational. For example, even though it had been known since the Roman Empire that sewage must be diverted to avoid widespread sickness in concentrated populations, no one knew what was intrinsic to sewage that was the actual cause of illness until the germ theory of disease was proven in the mid-1800’s. Then we knew how the primary source of illness could contaminate and disseminate in many ways. Solving the spread of the one true source was the answer that allowed us to begin to control diseases.

As we think about cruelty, violence, evil now, we are like the ancient Romans. We want to keep them away from populations, so we look after the fact to figure out how to do that better. We take it for granted that dealing with those dark aspects of human behavior is inevitable, so we keep looking for more ways to wall them off and push them farther from us — more security, more barricades, more restrictions, more suspicion, more weapons. We are especially dismayed in the face of obvious ambiguity, of situations like the Boston bombers and other youthful terrorists around the world.  Those who grew up around the perpetrators often tell us that they were good kids, good friends, happy guys. How could that be?  Does the potential for terror lurk even in the apparently nice people we generally like? Why would seemingly intelligent, athletic, friendly young men turn into ruthless, remorseless, mass killers? What is the contaminant? How do we keep it away?

In the more than 30 years I have been working to extend the reach of the Principles of an inside-out logic that explains the whole range of human experience, I have wondered  why some central questions have not generally registered with people. For example:

  1. If  the causes of human behavior are external, why wouldn’t the same external forces create the same reactions in everyone exposed to them?
  2. Since common sense shows us that people respond differently to the same external circumstances, why aren’t we looking for the mediator that explains that?

Questions that reach below the surface of our prevailing assumptions easily get lost. It is the history of humanity to live within the boundaries of the theories about life that are most widely accepted in our eras. So, before the discovery of germ theory, people accepted frequent contagion and widespread outbreaks of disease as normal “acts of nature”. Now, we see them as abnormal and we know what to look for to bring them under control.

At this point in our general understanding of human psychology, the prevailing theories all suggest that life happens to us, and everything we think and feel and do is generated by things outside ourselves. Without realizing it, we see ourselves as perpetual victims of circumstances, both good and bad. We consistently look for causes outside ourselves to explain effects within ourselves. Who or what should we blame or thank for our experience of life? He made me mad. You make me cheerful. I’ll be happy if … Of course, he or she is this or that — look at his or her family/schooling/background/environment/friends/religion… Because we empower all the stuff in our life, we are always struggling with things outside of our control.

What if we are missing a crucial link in our understanding of ourselves? What if we generate our experience from within, by the thoughts that flow through us, mediated by the level of awareness we have that we are the thinkers of our own thoughts and thus the creators of our own experience of reality? What if the power is within each person on earth to recognize how thinking works and see how to discriminate wise thinking from destructive thinking? What if this knowledge is intrinsic, but not always understood, and therefore easily awakened? What if the universal source of all of our responses to the external world is the way we hold and use our own thinking about it?

Reflect for a moment. A mind at peace does not, could not, conceive violence as a viable action. A mind at peace creates ease, connection to other people, compassion and engagement in life. A mind in turmoil will conceive and act on whatever thoughts seem to offer relief from inner torment. A mind in turmoil creates insecurity, righteous self-absorption, alienation, hatred and disregard for life.

If part of early education, just as ordinary as math and reading, were a true understanding of how our own minds, how all human minds, work to create our experience, young people would know early on how to use their feeling state to navigate their own thinking. They would recognize which thoughts make sense to guide them into action, and which thoughts to leave alone. They would not be frightened by any of their thinking, regardless of how bizarre or destructive, because they would understand that all thoughts are fleeting images created within our own minds that have no meaning beyond our level of commitment to them. They would live at peace within themselves. When we are at peace inside, there will be peace in the world.

Cut off from innate wisdom, a lost thinker experiences isolation, fear and confusion. This is why there are so many atrocities throughout the world.  Sydney Banks, The Missing Link, p 83.                                                                 


Same Guy, Different Perspective

Here’s an interesting story about the inside-out nature of the human experience. It begins with a vociferous fan at the back-to-back home doubleheaders played by my son’s college baseball team two weekends ago. He was the father of a player on the opposing team. For two straight days, and through all four games, this guy cheered extremely loudly. No matter the score, he would not let up.

By the end of the final game, I noticed that many of the parents on our side had become irritated with his behavior. In fact, one parent came up to me and asked my opinion about what they should do about the guy.

I replied, “Nothing. Let him be.”

To which the parent inquired, “How can we let him be? He’s ruining our experience!”

To which I answered: “First, that’s impossible (he can’t ruin our experience). And second, the fan hasn’t said one negative thing the entire weekend; he hasn’t yelled at the umpires, disrespected our players, or used foul language. Sure, his fervor is over-the-top, but all he’s really done is consistently root for his team.”

My fellow parent considered my answer for a moment and said, “Hmm, that’s an interesting perspective. I didn’t look at it that way, but he’s still an obnoxious SOB!”

Meanwhile, flash forward to this past weekend. The same parent approached me at another game. He had reflected on our conversation, and it occurred to him that it wasn’t the fan who was affecting his emotions—it was his own judgmental thinking. He agreed that the fan was simply enthusiastic and not the least bit critical. He even claimed that perhaps our parents could learn a lesson about team support from the guy.

Wow. A week prior the fan was Attila the Hun. Now he was a model of passion!

Don’t forget: Your perceptions are only shaped one way—from inside of you to outside of you. Nothing or no one can make you feel a certain way—not another person’s behavior, your environment, or circumstances. Yes, almost always, it will seem like this is not the case. It will look like the world outside drives your senses. But knowing that it can’t work that way is what safeguards your experience and how you respond. 

The truth is that throughout the course of that weekend, to me, the exuberant fan appeared both enthusiastic and obnoxious—and his behavior didn’t change one bit. Understanding that my own thinking and mindset creates my feelings is what allowed me to keep a level head at those moments when, like the others, I wanted to tell the fan to sit down and shut up. It also allowed me to enjoy the games and find the good in an innocent person who approaches watching baseball differently than I do.

Oh and by the way, if you’re wondering if the time is ever right to confront someone like this fan, the answer is yes. But, trust me, you won’t feel irritated or wonder about what you should do. You’ll just act. Irritated feelings come from your thinking and only your thinking. When you feel that way (regarding any life situation), simply stay in your seat and watch the game. Your perspective will shift in no time.

About Life, Crazy Thoughts and “Evil” Forces

Picture
I recently made a new Facebook friend named Kristian --who you are about to meet. Kristian friended me, I asked him why and we began talking about The Three Principles. Messaging back and forth.

Lead by his thoughtful questions,  Kristian and I reflected together about "the voices in our heads," obsessive thoughts, why we all get scared and how we stay safe.

I asked him if I could share our chat here on the blog. He said yes.  At first I thought I would edit this to be shorter, but I've decided not to.  So...

Here is the unedited dialogue between this wise fellow and myself exploring the nature of thought in the context of The Three Principles. 

Kristian Thalin
A question, do you think there are "evil" forces that can control peoples action or is all that just thought? 

For example, sometimes people do these really bad things and say stuff like "that was a voice in my head that told me to do it" ... Therefore I thought that is very scary for me at times. "What if I suddenly ..." and then the worst possible thing that I can come up with like kill someone etc.. 

Have you ever met one with these kind of unwanted almost obsessive thoughts? If so, what makes you think they become obsessive when you don't even want them in the first place... This is where I get confused with our "free" will. 
Thank you Elese,
All my love,
Kristian
Elese Coit
Hi Kristian,
How wonderful to meet you. What a thoughtful place to reflect. Here is what I have found most helpful to know about thought. See how this lands for you and let me know.

1. Everyone has every kind of thought. 
The most beautiful to the most terrible. The Principles do not say you will not have "evil" or "obsessive" types of thoughts. They say: you will feel the content of your thinking, whatever it is. 
Notice in your own life and see if this is true.

2. Everyone has had and continues to have (daily!!) thoughts that they ignore. 
We ignore "I could eat that whole cake!" even though we have the thought. So, we do know how to let thoughts come without making them a big deal (even awful ones) and simply allow them to pass. I find that is nice to remember about ourselves.
If you can find one example in your experience, you have established that thought cannot take you over. That is what I call free will.

3. When thoughts come alive in our 5-senses, we feel them very intensely and in full 3-D. 
This feels compelling, true and real. And it is. However, most people feel compelled to do something about them to stop the feeling. That means they will act on the outside of themselves in order to get rid of a feeling they don't like: strike out, get revenge, eat the cake... etc. Most people will do this and will truly feel they had no choice to do anything else. Now this is going to sound a bit tricky, but see if you can see that makes sense to people -- but only if feelings are coming from outside of us! (Which they are not).

So here is the REAL KEY: Once you know that your feelings are coming from thinking, and reflect the content of thinking alone, you do not need to act on the outside world in an attempt to rid yourself of a feeling. The more you understand where the feeling is coming from, the less you need to do "out there" to resolve it. (In fact, the less you need to do to resolve it at all. That includes improving on yourself.)

4. Remember, all feelings WILL and in fact MUST change. It is the nature of feelings. There is nothing you can do to stop yourself getting a new idea (and the feeling that will go with it) at any point. 

If you want to test out number 4 for yourself, try to take one feeling, any feeling maybe anger or rage and see what you would have to do to keep that feeling going -without a break in the feeling at all.

Most people cannot last one minute with a single feeling. Within seconds they are thinking "I'm hungry" or "how long have I been doing this?" and the feeling they are trying to sustain will simply subside. 

This shows you just how much natural feelings are moving along with the thoughts behind them.

So how does this help you to trust that is what is happening and know that it is the Principles that keep you safe, not the content of your thinking?
Love,
Elese
Elese Coit

P.S. and YES, just last week I was totally enraged and wanted to hit someone. I told a friend of mine in the Domestic Violence prevention unit, I could totally see how wives beat husbands and husbands beat wives. I could easily have been one in that red hot moment. 

Luckily, I told her, "The Principles kept ME safe because I know what is happening to me -- what they did not do was keep me "safe" from having the thought in the first place!"
Does that make sense?
Kristian Thalin

Elese, all I can say right now is WOW! I acually found myself smiling with a deep sense of relief as I was reading your answer - thank you so much! 

What you say just make perfect sense Elese, becouse if we think that our emotions really comes from something or someone then there is no wounder that one might think that we are controlled by something, when we in fact are feeling our own thinking! Thank you for helping me see that 
Im starting to realize more and more that there can't simply be any "evil", it's rather a absense of god! In the same way that cold is the absense of heat and darkness is the absense of lightness like Einstein was on about. The way you came across with it made it very clear to me! 

For me it feels like that the more we start see our true identity, the less scary our thinking gets simply becouse we just think we need to feel fearfull of it. I mean just look at a little baby, it does not get scared of spiders or snakes or even the most brutal horror movie becouse they don't even know what it is! It's all conditioning! 

Or am I all lost when I say that we are learned to fear most things that we are scared of Elese?
Elese Coit

Kristian,
Glad to be in this reflection with you 

As to your last question, here is what I think we learned: we all learned to "attribute." We had a feeling, looked for the reason for it, and then just pointed to something outside ourselves and said, "this made me feel ..." 

We learned to attribute this way because no one knew any different. I certainly didn't before I came across the Principles and began to reflect on what they mean in practice...

So what we attribute to is random. Which makes sense because no one is afraid of the same things right? It's kind of amazing if you think about it, that we have never noticed this is the reason!!

Anyway, my favorite way of talking about this is "No one can make you feel ...X"* Nothing can make you feel it, but you can attribute feeling to something and believe yourself. That's not something wrong with us, it's just a misunderstanding...

does that help as you reflect on your question?
Love,
Elese

*(With thanks to Mara Gleason who put that on the white board when teaching at Supercoach)
Kristian Thalin

Elese, 
First of all I want you to know that your amazing kindness and wisdom means so much to me 

The way you explained how we "attribute" makes perfect sense to me! I can really see how this missunderstanding makes one think that there is something wrong with us, when in fact there is nothing wrong at all! 

Elese, what do you do when you get caught up with negative feelings from your thoughts? 

Sometime I find myself feeling sad but I could not identify what kind of thought that caused it and I tend to get into this strange gap between stress and wellbeing. 

Once again thank you Elese!
Love,
Kristian
Elese Coit

Hi Kristian,
Hm, a question on this one ... tell me, why would you want to "identify" the thought that caused the feeling? 
Love,
Elese

Kristian Thalin

Hi Elese,
It's funny how we give meaning to meaningless things. The moment I read your response a statement made by Einstein came up in my head: 
"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."

Identifying the thought that caused the feeling would be like identifying the tiny object on the road that caused a flat tire on a bike. Focusing on that object will not do me much good...

I guess we're so used to focus on our mistakes so our habitual thinking kicks in. 

Anyway, thank you Elese for questioning my thought and helping me look at it from a new angle!
Love,
Kristian

Elese Coit

Wonderful. No one could say it better. Even Einstein. 

Hey Kristian, I'd love to share some of our conversation on my next blog. Would you be happy with that. I can remove your name and such -- I just think everyone has these questions and it's a comfort to people to know that everyone else does. We often feel we are the only ones, and everyone else "gets it" -- never the case!

What do you think?

I could send you a draft before publishing if that would be helpful.
Love,
Elese
Kristian Thalin

Dear Elese,
Thank you so much and it would be a honour for me to be part of your blog! You can use my name if you want. Im grateful and excited about the possibility to help others find food for thought in our journey in this amazing gift of life! 

Once again thank you so much Elese for all the loving kindness and wisdom you've given me and so many others with all awesome things that you do!
All my love!
Namaste!
Kristian
With immense gratitude to Kristian for allowing me to share this dialogue. *bows*  We may be individual thinkers living in our individual worlds, but in this sense we Are all in this together!

About Life, Crazy Thoughts and “Evil” Forces

Picture
I recently made a new Facebook friend named Kristian --who you are about to meet. Kristian friended me, I asked him why and we began talking about The Three Principles. Messaging back and forth.

Lead by his thoughtful questions,  Kristian and I reflected together about "the voices in our heads," obsessive thoughts, why we all get scared and how we stay safe.

I asked him if I could share our chat here on the blog. He said yes.  At first I thought I would edit this to be shorter, but I've decided not to.  So...

Here is the unedited dialogue between this wise fellow and myself exploring the nature of thought in the context of The Three Principles. 

Kristian Thalin
A question, do you think there are "evil" forces that can control peoples action or is all that just thought? 

For example, sometimes people do these really bad things and say stuff like "that was a voice in my head that told me to do it" ... Therefore I thought that is very scary for me at times. "What if I suddenly ..." and then the worst possible thing that I can come up with like kill someone etc.. 

Have you ever met one with these kind of unwanted almost obsessive thoughts? If so, what makes you think they become obsessive when you don't even want them in the first place... This is where I get confused with our "free" will. 
Thank you Elese,
All my love,
Kristian
Elese Coit
Hi Kristian,
How wonderful to meet you. What a thoughtful place to reflect. Here is what I have found most helpful to know about thought. See how this lands for you and let me know.

1. Everyone has every kind of thought. 
The most beautiful to the most terrible. The Principles do not say you will not have "evil" or "obsessive" types of thoughts. They say: you will feel the content of your thinking, whatever it is. 
Notice in your own life and see if this is true.

2. Everyone has had and continues to have (daily!!) thoughts that they ignore. 
We ignore "I could eat that whole cake!" even though we have the thought. So, we do know how to let thoughts come without making them a big deal (even awful ones) and simply allow them to pass. I find that is nice to remember about ourselves.
If you can find one example in your experience, you have established that thought cannot take you over. That is what I call free will.

3. When thoughts come alive in our 5-senses, we feel them very intensely and in full 3-D. 
This feels compelling, true and real. And it is. However, most people feel compelled to do something about them to stop the feeling. That means they will act on the outside of themselves in order to get rid of a feeling they don't like: strike out, get revenge, eat the cake... etc. Most people will do this and will truly feel they had no choice to do anything else. Now this is going to sound a bit tricky, but see if you can see that makes sense to people -- but only if feelings are coming from outside of us! (Which they are not).

So here is the REAL KEY: Once you know that your feelings are coming from thinking, and reflect the content of thinking alone, you do not need to act on the outside world in an attempt to rid yourself of a feeling. The more you understand where the feeling is coming from, the less you need to do "out there" to resolve it. (In fact, the less you need to do to resolve it at all. That includes improving on yourself.)

4. Remember, all feelings WILL and in fact MUST change. It is the nature of feelings. There is nothing you can do to stop yourself getting a new idea (and the feeling that will go with it) at any point. 

If you want to test out number 4 for yourself, try to take one feeling, any feeling maybe anger or rage and see what you would have to do to keep that feeling going -without a break in the feeling at all.

Most people cannot last one minute with a single feeling. Within seconds they are thinking "I'm hungry" or "how long have I been doing this?" and the feeling they are trying to sustain will simply subside. 

This shows you just how much natural feelings are moving along with the thoughts behind them.

So how does this help you to trust that is what is happening and know that it is the Principles that keep you safe, not the content of your thinking?
Love,
Elese
Elese Coit

P.S. and YES, just last week I was totally enraged and wanted to hit someone. I told a friend of mine in the Domestic Violence prevention unit, I could totally see how wives beat husbands and husbands beat wives. I could easily have been one in that red hot moment. 

Luckily, I told her, "The Principles kept ME safe because I know what is happening to me -- what they did not do was keep me "safe" from having the thought in the first place!"
Does that make sense?
Kristian Thalin

Elese, all I can say right now is WOW! I acually found myself smiling with a deep sense of relief as I was reading your answer - thank you so much! 

What you say just make perfect sense Elese, becouse if we think that our emotions really comes from something or someone then there is no wounder that one might think that we are controlled by something, when we in fact are feeling our own thinking! Thank you for helping me see that 
Im starting to realize more and more that there can't simply be any "evil", it's rather a absense of god! In the same way that cold is the absense of heat and darkness is the absense of lightness like Einstein was on about. The way you came across with it made it very clear to me! 

For me it feels like that the more we start see our true identity, the less scary our thinking gets simply becouse we just think we need to feel fearfull of it. I mean just look at a little baby, it does not get scared of spiders or snakes or even the most brutal horror movie becouse they don't even know what it is! It's all conditioning! 

Or am I all lost when I say that we are learned to fear most things that we are scared of Elese?
Elese Coit

Kristian,
Glad to be in this reflection with you 

As to your last question, here is what I think we learned: we all learned to "attribute." We had a feeling, looked for the reason for it, and then just pointed to something outside ourselves and said, "this made me feel ..." 

We learned to attribute this way because no one knew any different. I certainly didn't before I came across the Principles and began to reflect on what they mean in practice...

So what we attribute to is random. Which makes sense because no one is afraid of the same things right? It's kind of amazing if you think about it, that we have never noticed this is the reason!!

Anyway, my favorite way of talking about this is "No one can make you feel ...X"* Nothing can make you feel it, but you can attribute feeling to something and believe yourself. That's not something wrong with us, it's just a misunderstanding...

does that help as you reflect on your question?
Love,
Elese

*(With thanks to Mara Gleason who put that on the white board when teaching at Supercoach)
Kristian Thalin

Elese, 
First of all I want you to know that your amazing kindness and wisdom means so much to me 

The way you explained how we "attribute" makes perfect sense to me! I can really see how this missunderstanding makes one think that there is something wrong with us, when in fact there is nothing wrong at all! 

Elese, what do you do when you get caught up with negative feelings from your thoughts? 

Sometime I find myself feeling sad but I could not identify what kind of thought that caused it and I tend to get into this strange gap between stress and wellbeing. 

Once again thank you Elese!
Love,
Kristian
Elese Coit

Hi Kristian,
Hm, a question on this one ... tell me, why would you want to "identify" the thought that caused the feeling? 
Love,
Elese

Kristian Thalin

Hi Elese,
It's funny how we give meaning to meaningless things. The moment I read your response a statement made by Einstein came up in my head: 
"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."

Identifying the thought that caused the feeling would be like identifying the tiny object on the road that caused a flat tire on a bike. Focusing on that object will not do me much good...

I guess we're so used to focus on our mistakes so our habitual thinking kicks in. 

Anyway, thank you Elese for questioning my thought and helping me look at it from a new angle!
Love,
Kristian

Elese Coit

Wonderful. No one could say it better. Even Einstein. 

Hey Kristian, I'd love to share some of our conversation on my next blog. Would you be happy with that. I can remove your name and such -- I just think everyone has these questions and it's a comfort to people to know that everyone else does. We often feel we are the only ones, and everyone else "gets it" -- never the case!

What do you think?

I could send you a draft before publishing if that would be helpful.
Love,
Elese
Kristian Thalin

Dear Elese,
Thank you so much and it would be a honour for me to be part of your blog! You can use my name if you want. Im grateful and excited about the possibility to help others find food for thought in our journey in this amazing gift of life! 

Once again thank you so much Elese for all the loving kindness and wisdom you've given me and so many others with all awesome things that you do!
All my love!
Namaste!
Kristian
With immense gratitude to Kristian for allowing me to share this dialogue. *bows*  We may be individual thinkers living in our individual worlds, but in this sense we Are all in this together!

Two Reasons Life Can’t Drag You Down (for very long) – Erika Bugbee

Most of the time I know life can’t make me suffer, that the real cause of my suffering is my own thinking. But sometimes I can’t help but feel like there are a few things that are objectively horrid for anyone no matter how they think about it. Maybe the most extreme example would be having someone die. If a person loses someone close to them, they’re bound to feel sad no matter what they’re thinking, right? It seems like that kind of sadness and suffering has nothing to do with thought, that certain events can bypass our thinking and somehow affect us directly.  But recently I was reminded first-hand how the ONLY way life can affect us is through our own thinking, even when it comes to death.

A few months ago one of my uncles died and I went to the memorial. As I’d expected, lots of people were sad. But I was struck by several things:

  1. 1.    No two people felt the same way. People that were sad were sad for different reasons, in different ways, and in different amounts. Some were sad because they’d regretted not seeing him more. Some were sad because his professional field would miss out on his amazing contribution.  Others were sad they have to live life without him. And some weren’t sad at all. Some were mad at him for dying before they were ready. Then there were people who were inspired by him, happy to have known him, or admired how much he loved and appreciated his life. There were 200 people that went to his memorial, so there were 200 different effects of his death, because there were 200 different kinds of thoughts at any moment.  No two people were affected the same way.

 

  1. 2.    The reaction of each person changed moment to moment. Over that week, I saw people go through waves of sadness, fear, confusion, and heaviness, but they felt other things too, that were positive, light, grateful, or sentimental, and brought so much peace of mind. His family landed in so many different places even though the situation never changed. I couldn’t even decide how I felt. He died while he was hiking, which was his favorite thing in life, so I was grateful in one moment, then I’d think about how he was young and healthy, and the whole thing felt tragic and wrong.  Like everyone else, the impact on me was a moving target.  

 

What I saw so clearly was that people's feelings in life are up for grabs. We don't actually live in life, in the events that happen, we live in our thoughts. The good news is that while everyone goes through upset and lows in life, those feelings change as our thoughts change, so we get feelings like appreciation and resolve too. Our emotions, feelings, and reactions to life, no matter how awful, will always be temporary because thought naturally changes, which is where the saying “time heals all wounds” came from. We’re wired up to get over things. That’s what gives us the heartiness and maturity to handle the bigger things in life that we've all gotten through so far. And that’s what we take with us into the future and whatever happens next.

What’s Meaningful to Me

I was recently asked to write about what’s meaningful to me about my work. I thought my response might shed some light on the paradigm that I teach. Any questions, as always, please reach out. 

What’s meaningful to me? Teaching others (or better yet, reminding others) that, in principle, nothing or no one can make them feel a certain way. Their feelings come from inside of them—from their thinking. Why is this meaningful? Because understanding that your feelings come from the ebbs and flows of your thinking is the difference between living at the mercy of circumstance, and knowing that when you feel insecure or confused your mind will automatically self-correct back to clarity—no matter the circumstance.

The fact is that 99 percent of us are walking through life believing that a person’s experience (what happens to him or her) is the source of the person’s state of mind. But the opposite is true: One’s state of mind is the source of his or her experience. If you want proof of this natural phenomenon, simply consider a time when you fretted about something, then you became distracted and turned your attention elsewhere, but then returned to the same circumstance and wondered, “What in the world was I worried about, this is a piece of cake.” The circumstance didn’t change. Your thinking and mindset did, and so did your outlook.

What’s more, when you grasp that you live in the feeling of your thinking, not in the feeling of life events, you won’t make the mistake of looking outside for excuses when you do struggle. Nor will you look outside for cures in endless therapy sessions, prescription drugs, or illicit behavior. Every problem known to mankind is rooted in someone’s belief that the outside world is responsible for his or her inner feelings. Human beings create their troubles via their own thinking—not from their past, environment, political affiliation, failures, neighbors, or spouse.

This, by the way, is not to say that you should ever try to fix your thinking. Not at all. Merely consider that you live in a thought-based reality (not a circumstance-based reality), keep living, and your mind will find a fresh perspective about any topic on its own.

Remember: Like your body is designed to regulate to a core temperature of 98.6, your mind is designed to regulate to clarity—freedom, understanding, determination, and love will then follow. The next time you feel down, again, don’t look outside for reasons or fixes. Doing so thwarts your innate ability to find answers. Rather, look inward to the value of your thinking at that moment. What’s meaningful to me is you knowing that your feelings only come from there.

How People Change: The difference between our approach and the wildly popular cognitive-type approaches

Erika Bugbee explains how the point of cognitive approaches is to try change or manage the way someone thinks. This process usually involves reframing or giving instructions, answers, or explanations.  In contrast, the principles-based approach (the approach we use at … Continue reading

My Boston

This one hit really close to me. I was born in Boston, lived in the city for the first 5 or 6 years of my life, grew up in the suburbs around it, and lived in the city again in my 20s. I love Boston. It is close to my heart. Hundreds and hundreds of times I walked in the exact spot where the bombs went off. In fact, my cousin was watching the Marathon close to where the bombs went off. Apparently his place of work had a Red Sox game/Marathon outing yesterday. He said to my sister, “We were all close by, some so close that they saw a lot of things that will haunt them.” Luckily all 48 of them came up safe. But what about the others who lost lives or limbs or family or friends or who will have to suffer with so much pain or whose lives will be changed forever? Devastation and horror.

There is simply too much of this! Even one is too much. It’s got to stop, but how?

I’ve been through just about every emotion there is to go through about this. Every time my thinking shifts, whatever emotion is attached follows.  Each one feels extremely real. Yet each one is inadvertently made up by me. Which one is the true one? All of them. Or none. Right now there are a few people who are actually happy this happened. At this moment I’d like to break their skulls (but I won’t, of course, because my thinking would never let me).

And that’s the most astonishing thing of all about this. Whoever the perpetrator or perpetrators are of this horror believe their thinking is reality. They really believe they had to do this! If they only understood enough about how “reality” is created, they’d never be able to believe or trust or follow their thinking enough to go through with something like this, because they would know it’s not really reality at all. It’s the only reason anything like this ever happens.

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