#2: Listen to Your Thoughts (17:24)

Viewing thought as energy and recognizing how constant negative thinking can throw us off balance.

Welcome to Seeking Balance, A Personal Journey. I’m grateful you decided to join me for this episode. I hope you find a common thread that might help you find ways to boost your own energy and balance too.

I’m still learning to use the audio recording software. I hope you will forgive me for the occasional truck noise that passes by my home. I do not have a professional recording studio, nor do I have a sound proof room in my house to drown out the road traffic. I normally don’t notice the road traffic so much – we’ve learned to tune it out after living in this house for three years.

I guess it’s somewhat like a person working in a bakery who becomes oblivious to the smell of fresh baked bread.

My attempts to minimize the ambient sounds of my home while recording have been a challenge and a nuisance. Speaking of nuisances… I’ve had a speck of dust in my eye, irritating me all day. I tried to remove it but could never seem to find it. I couldn’t see what was irritating my eye yet it was there all the same.  It made me think about the simple things we tend not to notice or overlook until they become problematic

The vision impairment in my right eye is a great example. I can look out my work window at this majestic pine tree, but if I close my left eye, the tree disappears. The tree is still there but my right eye cannot see it. If I had to rely solely on my right eye to see, I would essentially be blind. Most days I do not give it a second thought because my left eye allows me to function as if nothing were wrong.  

I guess it’s sort of like the night sky. When daylight fades and the stars begin to reveal themselves, then we can marvel at their beauty if we choose to.  Daylight emerges and we forget about them. Just because we cannot see the stars during the day, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

That speck of dust would be harmless if it were sitting on my desk and I’d never notice it -- but having it scratching my eye has made it seem like sand paper.

Our thoughts are another example. We have tens of thousands of thoughts each day. How many do we actually pay attention to? Many of them can be abrasive or repetitive. When I choose to pay attention to exactly what I am thinking, I see how my negative thoughts can throw off my personal balance. 

“I’m not good enough.”

“I’m not smart enough.”

“I could have done a better job on that.”

“I am a failure.”

“I’ll never make enough money.”

“Betty hates me. I know it by the way she looks at me.”

We think these things and don’t really notice. We don't pay a lot of attention to the thoughts we think or the impact they can have on our emotional well being. They can even have an impact on how we portray our outer selves to the world, and how others perceive us.

If each negative thought were a speck of dust in your eye, you certainly would notice.

• • •

When I was little, my dad would use this term to describe any task his children would do.

Half-assed. That was kind of his catch phrase. He also said, “I shit you not,” but that’s another story.

The dishes were done half-assed (meaning we missed a spot on a plate). The floor was swept half-assed. The leaves were raked half-assed. There was nothing I could do to please this man, no matter how hard I tried to do everything right. I felt like I was a big disappointment in his eyes. I thought he hated me, didn’t want me. My inner child’s brain could not comprehend it was just his way of trying to instill a strong work ethic in his children. My little brain kept hearing “you are not worthy” and I unwittingly made myself into someone who was not worthy.

Everyone I encountered was superior to me. Everyone was better than me. I would never measure up to anything. I was worthless.

I let these thoughts, that I didn’t give a lot of conscious attention to, whittle away at me, just like that speck of dust in my eye drove me nuts today.

As I matured into a young woman, I really didn’t like the person I had turned into. How could anyone else like me or accept me if I couldn’t accept myself? I started playing a little mind game, that if I noticed I was having a negative thought, I would catch it and stop it in its tracks. I would turn it around and try to see the good in the situation. It was really hard at first. Slowly, something wonderful began to happen. I noticed my inner thoughts were becoming more pleasant and the negative thoughts were fewer. I didn’t feel like everyone was judging me or paying attention to my flaws – perceived or otherwise. To this day, I’ll still catch myself when I notice I am thinking negatively.

It’s pretty amazing how you feel when you are holding your head a little higher and have a bounce in your step.

My work week provided a great little reminder for me to be more careful with my thoughts and perceptions. Multiple failures to properly communicate pertinent information to my department resulted in my team putting out information to the public that wasn’t exactly correct. In the past, I have inevitably been blamed for these errors – even screamed at.

It’s like trying to build a puzzle in a given amount of time. You are only given a handful of pieces along with pieces that don’t belong to that particular puzzle. You are racing the clock to complete it but will never accomplish the task correctly, no matter what you do. Midway through your deadline, many pieces are taken away and new ones are added. It becomes an impossible task. When your time runs out, you’re left with a partial puzzle and then reprimanded for not having all the pieces put together. 

I tend to be a rather anal perfectionist in my work, so I took the errors to heart and blamed myself, even though I had no control over the situation. To be honest, the majority of my frustration in life lately, resolves around this exact type of scenario. It breaks my spirit when I am not producing my best work at all times. Otherwise I would be perceived as what? HALF-ASSED!!!

This particular incident, following a long chain of similar happenings, was enough to make me want to throw in the towel.

Place a perfectionist into a chaotic, disorganized situation, in which they have zero control to fix, and you will see them crumble. And that is what I have been doing for five years. Jobs in my field that pay well are few and far between in my area, so I have clung to this job like a security blanket, too worn out and defeated to seek out a change.

What I didn’t realize until this week, is that I have slowly allowed myself to revert back to exactly as I felt as a young woman. I’ve been consumed with more negative thoughts and feelings than ever before. It has made me doubt my abilities and it has eroded my self confidence.

I have wallowed in thoughts of…

“I’ll never find a better job where I am following my calling and earning enough to live comfortably.”

“I’m stuck in a miserable existence.”

“I cannot do a good job in this environment.”

“I will always be blamed for the short comings of others.”

“I am not thriving.”

The need to stay put for my steady paycheck was diminished by my need to escape the constant disorganization of my day-to-day life.

At the end of the day, after an exchange of messages with my boss, trying to rectify the latest miscommunication, I told her that I just couldn’t do this any more. I hit the send button on the email, shut down my computer, and went home.

Much to my surprise, this woman, whom I have grown close to over the last several years, called me at home. I was able to tell her how beat down and hopeless I felt. I had allowed my entire being to be consumed by the 8 to 5 frustrations. She assured me that it was not my fault and not only validated my feelings but reassured me that I was doing a great job for her and that she appreciated me. She had also been taking steps to regain the balance and organization that had slowly slipped away. I felt my energy lifting and after the call had ended, began to realize just how much I had let my own self-doubt magnify the situation.

Not unlike how the speck of dust had slowly felt like a boulder in my eye until I was able to go home and flush it out properly. Or how the noise from the road traffic had slowly driven me crazy when I needed to make things quiet.

The lessons of this week were like being handed more pieces to my own personal puzzle that had begun to fall apart.

It always amazes me how our adult problems can mirror things that were imprinted upon us as children. I simply LOVE the fact that we are given opportunities to rise above and alter our perceptions. I am rather ashamed of myself for allowing it to take so long to recognize this life situation was just that – a life lesson to grow and regain more balance.

 I am wishing I could have one more conversation with my dad.  I was fortunate enough to have made peace with my dad long before we lost him. But how I would love to tell him…

“ I love you so much and appreciate everything you did for me. You guided me to be a strong, independent person. I know in my heart, you were hard on us to prepare us to be competent, well-rounded adults – and that you didn’t think of me as your half-assed kid.”

I feel him smiling and hear his hearty laugh for his silly daughter’s energy rising back where it belongs. I’d felt him knocking at the door of my soul lately. I am so happy I decided to let him in.

I had been looking at life lately, through a blind eye. NOW I regained enough balance to see my life with both eyes wide open. I see the situation for the lesson that was being presented.  My own thoughts – like the noisy road traffic -- were just magnifying the situation.

While piecing together this episode, I remembered a piece of old writing about thought. It’s probably close to 20 years old. It’s a little corny but I’d like to share it with you anyway. 

Thought as Energy

While defrosting my ice-covered freezer the other night, I began deeply pondering thought as energy, understanding that each thought entering our heads is like giving birth to new life. Energy cannot be destroyed, only transformed.

For many years, I have understood this concept, working diligently to “reprogram” the computer in my head in order to erase negativity from my life through positive thought. Yet, as mere humans, we are all subject to human emotions—and those emotions can heal as well as hurt.

Chipping away at the huge frozen chunks that had accumulated in my freezer, not being very mindful of my physical actions, my hand rubbed against a rough formation of ice. It cut my finger, drawing blood. Suddenly, my thoughts turned to the small abrasions on my little finger, I realized that WATER did this. Water drew blood.

What an incredibly simple analogy. Thought is like water. Water can heal and water can hurt in its many different forms. It can nourish a growing garden or it can flood a town. Water can quench the thirst as easily as it can drown. It can cool our skin from a soothing stream or sear our flesh with its burning steam...molded into a snowball from winterʼs art, or formed into a dagger piercing a heart.

Powerful indeed is water. We learn from the youngest age to respect its capabilities. So should we have the same respect for thought.

As I cleared away the remaining ice in my freezer, it occurred to me that I had not noticed how difficult it had become to close the freezer door or to find or rearrange objects inside it until so much ice had built up. Much like my brain...we do not realize how much “ice” we accumulate inside ourselves until it consumes us. Once it is cleared away, the doors to our souls open much more easily.

• • •

On a parting note, if you listened to last week’s episode, you discovered that I love to sing to the radio in my car. This week’s rendition of carpool karaoke was Train’s  “Meet Virginia.”

Well she wants to live her life
then she thinks about her life
Pulls her hair back as she screams
"I don't really wanna be the queen"

I had pulled up to a stop light as the song was ending, and as the final “Meet Virginia” came over the radio,  I glanced at the car in front of me. It had a Virginia license plate. As my dad would say, “I shit you not.” Not something you see every day in Vermont. I LOVE synchronicity! AND I love that you joined me today for Seeking Balance, A Personal Journey.

As the episodes emerge, you’ll find I love to make analogies and find common threads in my every day living to tie the pieces together. It seems then that I begin to see the synchronicity and take leaps forward.

Until next time, love well my friends. I’m off to go look at the night stars…

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