Byron Katie: “Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to change the world so that they can be happy. This hasn’t ever worked because it approaches the problem backward. What is needed is a way to change the projector—mind—rather than the projected. It’s like when there’s a piece of lint on a projector’s lens. We think there’s a flaw on the screen, and we try to change this person and that person, whomever the flaw appears to be on next. But it’s futile to try to change the projected images. Once we realize where the lint is, we can clear the lens itself. This is the end of suffering, and the beginning of a little joy in paradise.”
When someone walks down the street having a conversation with their self, people look at them funny.
The irony of this situation is that everyone talks to themselves all day long. You just don’t verbalize this dialogue, so no one hears it.
The conversation takes place in our head, and we call it “thinking”.
Our mind is constantly processing the world around us. Each day is a continuous barrage of thoughts, questions, and observations.
If you’ve ever have or are trying to sit in meditation for 10 minutes, you’ve experienced that many random thoughts arise and pass quickly. Even when you don’t want them to.
If all of these thoughts were positive and empowering, our non-stop thinking wouldn’t be an issue! But far too often, thoughts lead you too many ways and can bring you down or obstruct your ability to do be positive and do the things that you care about.
There are many types of thoughts that prevent you from living your best life. The following are examples:
Distracting thoughts that pull your attention away from the things that really matter to you.
Anxious thoughts that can create unpleasant feelings about your future.
Stressful thoughts that create discomfort in the present moment.
Fearful thoughts that narrow your thinking and can prevent you from taking action.
We aren’t always able to control when these thoughts will surface. We can develop strategies for responding to these thoughts in a way that doesn’t lower our energy.
There is a fundamental truth that gives us power to let go of our negative thoughts is that they are not always true so we do not have to believe them.
While it’s true that you experience each of your thoughts, they don’t always represent what’s true about the world.
Most of the time, your thoughts are just a story you tell yourself to make sense of the world. It’s all based on your interpretation of the world around you. Not some universal truth about reality.
But when you hold on to your thoughts as if they are the utmost truth, unpleasant feelings are sure to follow.
At one minute you might be feeling down about a situation at work, and the next minute you’re laughing at the joke from a friend.
This highlights how all thoughts and their respective mental states are temporary.
This gives you the power to avoid getting swept away by negative thoughts as they arise.
Noting what arises in your mind will greatly help you. You stay present and see the contents of your consciousness more clearly. This creates space between you and the thoughts you experience, which gives you more power to act with intention.
More from Bryon Katie:
Observe what arises in your mind, be it a thought or sensation.
Note the thought with gentle curiosity, giving it a one-word descriptor. (Along the lines of, “Ah, I see: Fear.”)
Let it pass by. Resist the urge to latch on to the thought or feeling. In time, it will fade as the predominant sensation, and you can let it pass by.
Everyone experiences recurring thoughts that create pain, shame and dissatisfaction at some point in their life.
Most often these are “should” thoughts.
Thoughts like these are persistent and aggravating. It seems like your mind is a broken record repeating back to this stressful thought over and over again.
Believing your random repeating thoughts often leads to suffering. This means your suffering is optional because your thoughts are not always true. We can choose not to get swept away by our thoughts.
“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.”
See your thoughts for what they really are…
All thoughts are temporary, and most of them aren’t universally true.
This can seem sad or uncomfortable but in reality, it’s empowering.
This truth gives you the power to take control of how you respond to your thoughts as you go through life. It helps you let go of the thoughts that bring you down so you can cultivate greater peace and joy.
When you stop believing everything you think, you give yourself the opportunity to be more proactive, and live the life you want to live.