Rule 2: Recognize a Thought is a Thought

The second rule ties directly into the first rule.  In fact, it is probably step 1 in watching our mind.  What is going on in our mind?  Thoughts.  What trips us up?  Thoughts.

The problem is not the thoughts.  The problem is that we don’t recognize they are just thoughts.  Thoughts are merely constructs of our mind.  And it is not that a thought is right or wrong, good or bad.  I would prefer to ask the question of whether it is helpful or unhelpful.

First, let’s challenge the Right/Wrong illusion.  Our thoughts are our interpretation of reality.  They are not reality.  As has been said by others, the map is not the road.  The map is a representation of the road.   A specific type of map leaves off details.  Another map is based on those same details.  The details are information, and we either process or ignore information every second (millisecond) of every day.

We get caught up in believing that we “see things for what they are,” but we don’t.  Wayne Dyer titled a book “you will see it when you believe it.”  That is the truth.  Our thoughts are woven by our beliefs, not by reality.  How often have you been completely convinced that you were right about something, only to get some more details that helped you see you were wrong?

Again, thoughts only have the possibility of being partial reflections of reality.

How about Good/Bad Thoughts?  Well, we all have thoughts we are not proud of.  That, again, is the nature of the mind, and probably a good reason to not want to read someone else’s mind!  It would be one loud, ugly, noisy place!  Thoughts are just thoughts.

And that is the realization here.  We can get caught up in a thought so much that we continue to find ourselves pulled away from experiencing life.  We become spectators through our thoughts.  And when we forget it is a thought, we start acting in ways that represent a thought.

Let’s take a quick example.  Let’s say I walk into my boss’s office for a meeting.  I see him reading my report with an expression I view as critical or angry.  I think “he didn’t like my work.”  This leads to thinking “what if he fires me?  What then?  How will I explain it to my wife?  How will we cover the bills?”  Within a few seconds, I have woven a story about how worthless my work is, then how worthless I am, then the fact that I am soon to be homeless.

Too bad I didn’t notice that my boss forgot his reading glasses today, and going over some spreadsheets has already given him a headache, so he is doing all he can to concentrate on the excellent report he is reading!  Too bad!

Too bad, because I begin to talk with him from my assumption that he doesn’t like my work. I begin to excuse my poor writing, my lack of ideas, my lack of creativity.  Then my boss pauses and looks up at me.  He is still thinking about my great idea, but can’t process it because I just told him it was terrible.  His thoughts start rolling.  Then, we are both caught in our own thoughts, no longer relating to each other.

Now rewind it.  What if I had walked into his office, saw the same expression, and had the first thought.  But when I noticed my stomach knotting up, I asked myself what I was thinking about, realized I was writing a story in my mind, and chose to realize a thought is just a thought?  I wait for him to tell me what he is thinking.  I wait for reality to continue.

That story ends very differently.  And the difference is merely because I recognized that a thought is just a thought.  It may be correct, but it may not be.  Either way, it is still just a thought.