You are not your thoughts.

I have heard that phrase before in my life, but I have heard it a few times specifically over the last few days.

You. Are. Not. Your. Thoughts.

It is an amazing and liberating thought. Thoughts come in and out all day, everyday. The thoughts are neutral, what we do with them is where we get into trouble. Here is what I mean. I was really frustrated with someone yesterday. They didn’t respond they way I wanted them to and I was misunderstood. This isn’t the first time this has happened with this person, in fact it happens all the time, so I shouldn’t be surprised. But every time it happens I get caught up in my head. “I knew they were going to do this!”, “They always do this!”, “Why do they act that way?”, “She is impossible to work with!”, “I need do something!”. Then I play it over and over again…and again…and again. Each time becoming more frustrated in how the whole thing went down. It started to consume me. I thought about it all freaking day.

Then, quietly, like a little sprout trying to grow up through the concrete of a parking lot, I heard the phrase, “You are not your thoughts.” I took a step back outside of my brain for a second. Wait, I don’t have to dwell on this. I am telling my mind this is a big deal and so it is running around trying to do what I am telling it. MAKE IT A BIG DEAL! THIS IS A BIG DEAL!

But it’s not. At all. It was just a miscommunication by people who communicate differently. That’s it. So, I started telling my mind that I am not going to let this bother me. Every time one of those frustrating thoughts came in, I sent it right on back out and said “I am not going to let this bother me. This isn’t a big deal.” Everytime. Over and over again…and again…and again. Eventually my mind started to listen and believe what I was telling it.

Our minds are a weird mix of our true selves mixed with our upbringing mixed with how we have taught our mind to work. We have tons of voices in our heads. We have a voice in our head that has helped us throughout our lives. They say that you learn if you are loved by the time you’re 2 years old and that you learn how to survive and navigate the world by the time you’re 12. We spend the rest of our lives sometimes flourishing in what we have learned or unlearning what we have been taught. Richard Rhor says that, “The voice we hear is a mix of all of our early authority figures. The way they portrayed shame, guilt, warnings, boundaries and self-doubt is a gift that keeps on giving…but it is not the still small voice of God.” It is up to us to decipher the difference between the two, and I think that will be a never ending process.

You aren’t your thoughts. Let them come and go, dwell on the ones that make you a better person and the world a better place. Send the other ones packing.

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