Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Owning our Experience

"Our thoughts create our reality. Where we put our focus is the direction we tend to go." -Peter McWilliams

This reminder is meant to empower us.  We have heard it said in many ways...

"Whatever the mind can conceive it can achieve." -W. Clement Stone
"What you resist persist." -Carl Jung
"All that we are is a result of what we have thought." -Buddha

   Our mind is the tool used for perception, reason, judgement, memory, feeling and all human intellectual processes and activities. We utilize this tool for each of these purposes in accordance to our beliefs about life; meaning we 'think' something based on our experience of it. Our mind has an important job, to protect us; but it is a tool, our mind is not who we are. We are spirit, living in this body to accomplish our will. And, we have the option to use our mind wisely and to our benefit, or not. We can choose to agree or disagree with anything; to set priorities, have values, belief systems, philosophies of living, to be happy or sad, disciplined or idle. We have the ability to choose how to think, feel and act. But, the way we think, feel, and act right now is a result of our current self-image-the mind's idea of who we are based on our experiences in the past.

 "The most important psychologic discovery of this century is the discovery of the "self image." Whether we realize it or not, each of us carries about with us a mental blueprint or picture of ourselves. It may be vague and ill-defined to our conscious gaze. In fact, it may not be consciously recognizable at all. But it is there, complete down to the last detail. This self image is our own conception of the "sort of person I am." It has been built up from our own beliefs about ourselves. But most of these beliefs about ourselves have unconsciously been formed from our past experiences, our successes and failures, our humiliations, our triumphs, and the way other people have reacted to us, especially in early childhood. From all these we mentally construct a "self," (or a picture of a self). Once an idea or belief about ourselves goes into this picture it becomes "true," as far as we personally are concerned. We do not question its validity, but proceed to act upon it just as if it were true." -Maxwell Maltz, M.D., F.I.C.S, Psycho-Cybernetics

   Our self-image is the scope we look through to view life. For this reason, each of us looks at life differently. But, looking at life differently doesn't mean the territory is different for each individual, just that each individual experiences the territory differently. There are fundamental truths about this world we all live in; such as Gravity, the Law of Attraction, Relativity, Cause and Effect- facts about our environment derived from nature that remain the same for everyone. Natural laws are our playing field. They are not meant to limit us, but to give us a platform to work from. The different views we each hold about life are just our way of either limiting or expanding our experience of it's territory. Understanding the natural laws of how our mind works will allow us the opportunity to live in awareness of our full potential- which gives us a choice to accept or deny the validity of our current 'view.' The way we have been thinking for the entirety of our lives has already programmed our mind. Our programming is a culmination of past experiences where we have made a decision, with great emotion attached, about how life is. For example, if our mother put us in 'time out' when someone blamed us for staining the carpet, we might decide life is unfair to us. This decision is based on our experience of life being unfair to us in that particular situation, but often we continue to carry mistaken beliefs from childhood with us well into adulthood as our 'view.' If we were to continue to believe life is not fair to us, it is more likely that we will experience the world as if it were unfair to us. This mistaken beleif can create anxiety, fear, and self-doubt in situations where these feelings are not concurrent with the facts. Having decided the world is unfair to us, subconsciously, we might start to believe we are not good enough or un-lovable. This often leads to a domino effect of situations that we create to validate our belief of being not good enough or un-lovable. This is an example of how an experience can undermine our self-image, or 'view,' and the result is detrimental to our experience of 'how life is.' With awareness, we can re-program these mistaken beliefs to act as lessons that influence our decisions-instead of facts about the present moment, which we have not yet experienced. We do this by refelecting on our beliefs to understand why we believed "life was unfair to us," for example, and why believing this was helping us cope with the situation we were in. And we remind ourselves that such a belief is not helpful to us anymore.

     Owning our experience is taking responsibility for what we can and do control- our thoughts, feelings and actions. Understanding how our mind works allows us to be aware of it's function as a tool.  We can start owning our experience by reminding ourselves that our mind is only trying to protect us-the mind with it's misguided information based on the past. We can start choosing to take responsibility for our thoughts by making decisions based on information in the present moment, not of past experiences. Reminding ourselves that all of our mistaken beliefs can be 're-programmed' to align with current goals.  We can do our best to live in pure potentiality by believing we are capable of all we desire to be. Knowing we have learned from our childhood experiences and have matured since then, we can learn form life's experiences and create compassion for ourselves for doing the best we could at the time. This is what owning our experience looks like. Health and healing begin here.