A client and I were in a coaching session and he had been sharing how he seemed to run into the same problem in his life, again and again.
The subject of beliefs and how pervasive they can be came up.
Beliefs are just thoughts yet when something looks true to us we live through those eyes. In fact, when we believe something to be true we are constantly gathering evidence to support it.
I shared the story of Ellie, a lady I met several years previously. She was beautiful, intelligent and talented. This is what I and others could see.
Yet Ellie could only see what she thought was wrong – with everything!
In other people she could only see their mistakes. In situations she could only see problems. In herself she only saw defects.
I remember, at a training event one time, Ellie was asked to evaluate the work of a colleague and the instruction was to begin with what she saw was good.
But what happened next was not what people were expecting at all!
The first words of her evaluation were, ‘Well, what I think is wrong with this is…’
She was stopped, reminded to begin with what she saw was good, and given another chance.
Her next words were, ‘Where I can see this is just not right is…’
Once again she was immediately stopped. The atmosphere got a little tense. We were all wondering what was going to happen next.
Ellie was asked if she understood the instructions. She said ‘Yes!’ She was asked if she could manage to carry them out, by starting with praise and she said ‘Yes!’
So, she was given another chance.
The next thing that came out of her mouth about her colleagues work was, ‘What I can see is wrong here…!’
Some people gasped. Others were open mouthed. I remember being fascinated.
What was going on?
The trainer was brilliant. He saw an opportunity and asked Ellie’s permission to explore why she responded in the way she did.
She agreed and we all sat in silence as the trainer skillfully asked questions and listened.
It turned out that when Ellie was a little girl her mother had entered her into lots of beauty contests and being as beautiful as she was, she had won many of them.
However, her mother had always been quick to point out what she thought was wrong with her. Ellie’s attention had repeatedly been drawn to looking for her (in her mothers opinion) imperfections.
Innocently, she had begun to look at everything through these eyes and yet, until now, this thinking had been invisible to her.
In our own individual way we all get caught up in illusory thinking.
We think we are living in ‘reality’, forgetting that our thinking is made up and that our ‘reality’ is just one version of an infinite number of possibilities.
Our mind is not like a camera, taking in an objective reality that exists independently of us.
It works the other way around, with no exception.
Our state of mind creates how we see the world. As Sydney Banks said, ‘Your thoughts are like the artist’s brush. They create a personal picture of the reality you live in.’
The clearer you see that you live in a thought created reality and that the mind will naturally provide new and fresh thinking with no effort, the more you live in the present.
Living in the present simply means being free from the past and the future. Instead of responding to life in habitual ways you are free to respond to how you see things in the moment.
How important is this?
All suffering and struggle is created through attachment to thoughts.
As old, habitual and unnecessary thinking drops away because we see no value in it, what we naturally experience instead is freedom, joy and clarity of mind.