We make many enemies throughout our lives, none of which live outside of our own heads.
Ponder on that for a second before you decide to read any further…what does that mean to you? Are you open to learning to love thy enemy for your own sake?
How We Create Our Own Enemies
Habits As Our Enemies
We create our own habits that we aren’t fond of and call them the enemy as if they have a mind of their own. Well, they do, except it’s not their mind, it’s our own mind. The same mind that created the habit is the same mind that will replace it. All of our habits are created with good intentions at the time of conception, we thought they served a purpose. If you’re not fond of a certain habit, it has outlived its’ purpose, it’s time to replace it. Don’t resist it, understand it, love it, replace it.
Time As Our Enemy
We’re late for an important meeting or occasion and we call time the enemy as if time made us late when it was our own choices that made us late. Time never speeds up or takes time away from us in order to purposely make us late, that just makes us sound like a lunatic. What we choose to do with the time we have been given is entirely our own responsibility, not the responsibility of time itself. Love time, as time is one of the few things you will always have until the day you die.
Challengers As Our Enemies
We don’t think we’re enough and we make enemies of anyone who challenges our outcomes. How dare them to have the audacity to make us feel like we’re not enough. Yet we were the ones telling ourselves we’re not enough before any challengers arose. If we were enough, we would see the opportunities in being challenged, we would welcome them. We understand that no matter what they say, we’re enough. Love being challenged, it fosters your growth.
Now, you may be thinking, the examples above are not such scary enemies, so I will use a drastic example…Hitler
Is it possible for one to generate compassion for a man who has done such horrific things? Yes, it is.
For him to do the things he’s done, can you just imagine what was going on inside his head? Take some time to think about that. Put yourself in his shoes and just imagine.
What would he have had to believe in order to carry out such acts of hatred and horror?
In a way, we can feel sympathy for him, he was a victim of a menacing mind. That’s one way to look at it.
We can also compassionately empathize with him. We’ve all done things we aren’t proud of, many of us still haven’t forgiven ourselves for some of these things. We can look back and ask ourselves…who in their right mind would do something like what we did? But that’s just it, we weren’t in the right mind. We had temporarily succumbed to certain thoughts that led to our regretful actions.
Being compassionate toward Hitler does not mean we condone his actions, it means we can understand with love, the horrific thoughts that led to his actions.
Sure, our wrong-doings were on a much smaller scale than that of Hitlers’, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still empathize with what it feels like to have a troubled mind. To be completely and utterly lost for a period of time. Lost to the point we performed some regretful actions, actions we wish we could take back if given the chance.
Now, I’m spiritual but not religious, some may call me a Theist as I believe in a higher power, an intelligence behind life. I’m going to take a quote from the Bible thought, regardless of who said it, be it Jesus or not, it has great power.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Why else would Hitler, or ourselves, follow through on any actions would never repeat while in our right mind? At the time, we thought we knew what we were doing, but we really didn’t because in the right mind we would have never done it.
Just like Hitler, we too know what it’s like to know not what we are doing.
Holding hatred in our hearts only hurts ourselves, not the one we’re hating. At the very least, sympathizing with him will leave us much better off than hating him. Each and every one of us does have the capacity to feel compassion and love for him as well, despite his wrong-doings.
Resistance, Options, And Illusions
As soon as an enemy is created, resistance toward the enemy is created. Using the examples above, we would then feel resistance toward our bad habits, toward time, toward the ones that challenge us, and toward Hitler. We don’t think with clarity when in a state of constant resistance. This simply does not serve us.
We fear to make enemies and therefore see much of creation as a threat to our illusionary existence, otherwise known as our ego. We point the blame outward in an attempt to preserve our ego, yet it is our egos that created our enemies in the first place. Ironic right?
Seeing that we do, in fact, have the option on whether or not we decide to create an enemy for ourselves, is the beginning of learning to love thy enemy. Enemies are not inevitable, people do bad things, WE do bad things, but we don’t have to make an enemy of it.
If we can get just a little glimpse of the illusory non-existence of our enemies, we will get a sneak peek at the existence of our allies.
Our enemies bring with them stubbornness, exile, resistance and division.
Our allies bring with them understanding, compassion, non-resistance and unity.
When facing our enemies we have three choices: play the victim, play the hero, or love them.
With love comes a willingness to understand and learn from our enemies. An enemy we learn from becomes our ally, this is how they make us stronger.
Love thy enemy and add to your strength.
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.
You might be anxiously wondering where this article is going to go, so just in case you’re about to judge me as some negative Nancy that’s going to bash positive thinking, I’d like to clear that up because that’s not what I’m about to do.
I’m going to use a deep dive into The Three Principles understanding of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought to awaken you to the fact that we don’t need to try to think positive in order to enjoy a joyous and fulfilling life. All we need is an understanding, and to not take our thoughts so damn seriously.
What I’m going to touch on is:
Positive and negative thoughts don’t exist, you just think they do
Judging vs understanding
A fear-based mentality
How the mind really works
Where our thoughts actually come from
What control we really have
The repercussions to always trying to think positive
How positive thinking teaches us to become more judgmental
A more peaceful approach to our thoughts and emotions
A healthier way to know your thinking is off
Where is freedom of mind?
By trying to think positive all the time, you’re attempting to shun the negative and embrace the positive instead of embracing the whole.
The self-help industry is completely flooded with the newest tips and strategies on how to think more positive more often. Oddly enough, attempting to see through a rose coloured lens all the time isn’t the solution to living a more fulfilling and joyful life. On top of that, it doesn’t even work.
My goal by the end of this post is to encourage you to meet your thoughts with understanding and compassion oppose to judgement. True success would be seeing the judgement of your thoughts as laughable.
Positive Thinking Failed Me
Being a caregiver to my wife with Leukemia for the past 9 years has taught me a lot. I’ve been to hell on earth and back, all in one lifetime, and I’m very grateful for this experience. Amongst the blessings in disguise that I’ve uncovered, I’ve learnt not to fear my own thinking.
During my deepest depths of despair, the world was a very, very dark place and I couldn’t see the light for the life of me. I tried so hard to “think positive”, but I wasn’t thrown a single bone to chew on.
I wanted to think positive because I was so afraid of what was going on inside my head. I was more afraid of my own thoughts than I was of cancer. I was constantly on edge, waiting to defend against the next negative thought that popped up.
When I needed positive thoughts the most they weren’t there. Or maybe they were, maybe I was blind to them because I was so distracted by all the attention I was giving to my “negative thinking”? Hmm
Suffice to say, I ground through that stage in my journey, it was not a graceful victory by any stretch.
I know with all my being that I will never go back to that place, or anywhere near it. I know this because I no longer judge my thinking as positive or negative. What’s probably even more important is that I no longer fear my own thoughts.
I now aim to meet each of my thoughts with love and compassion. Love trumps fear every single time. This compassion eliminates any desire for me to judge or change my thinking.
All of my thoughts are now arbitrary until I decide which ones will best serve me and the greater good.
Positive And Negative Thoughts Don’t Exist, You Just Think They Do
We make up what every single one of our thoughts mean. There is no universal meaning to our thoughts. There are universal feelings that we label, but each of those feelings means something different to each of us because we each have different thoughts that lead to those feelings.
Any given thought that you THINK is positive or negative is only that way because you THINK it is. You have labelled it so. Why do thoughts that lead to feeling happy have to be positive and thoughts that lead to feeling sad have to be negative?
Is it really such a negative thing to have thoughts that lead to feeling sad if you lose someone you loved dearly? Would you rather feel happy you lost them? One could argue that being happy in such a circumstance could be labelled as negative. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Judging vs Understanding
Judging leads us towards separating our thoughts into positive or negative compartments.
Understanding points toward the fact that we think. Through a simple understanding that we are thinking creatures and we aren’t in control, regardless of the content of our thinking, we can finally sit back and just watch the movie play out in our head.
Knowing that our thoughts have no life of their own allows us to not have to take them so seriously. None of our thoughts are real, not one. They only appear real because we give certain thoughts our full attention. This attention breathes life into a thought and that’s when they appear REAL.
Well, here’s the best news…
just because you have a thought in your head, this does not mean you have to act on it nor do you have to believe it. After all, it’s just a thought…until you think it’s not.
When we give our thoughts a life of their own, we feel the need to gain some control by attempting to banish the bad and embrace the good. We do this because we fear our thoughts are real, they have a sense of control over us, so we must take back control before they make us act out in ways we forbid.
How Positive Thinking Teaches Us To Become More Judgmental
In order to distinguish the so-called positive and negative thoughts, we must judge them as one or the other. To be on the look-out for the bad guys all day (negative thoughts), this requires us to be judging our thoughts all day.
This teaches us to analyze our thinking, then segmenting each thought into positive or negative categories. I’m exhausted just thinking about doing this each day.
We don’t see the world as our experience, we experience our thoughts as the world we see.
Therefore, the more we judge ourselves, which includes the thoughts in our head, the more we judge the world outside of us, including others. This is not the way of a more peaceful and joyful life.
As soon as we judge a thought as negative we’ve given it life, quite the opposite of our intentions. If we don’t judge the thought, it passes by all on its’ own like a cloud in the sky. Letting the thought go with judgement allows room for the next thought to pass by.
If we hold our attention on a negative thought, it leaves no room for the next thought to come through, not until we let that one go.
Being able to see your thoughts without judgement is ultimately what brings peace. Trying to think positive all the time takes you further away from this and more woven into a neurotic and judgmental world.
A Fear-Based Mentality
When we see our thoughts as real and in control of us, we have a tendency to then fear the thoughts we’ve judged as negative. This fear of a negative thought gives birth to the desire to abolish negative thinking while simultaneously attempting to control our thoughts.
If we take the stance of seeing all of our thoughts as arbitrary, until we give them life through belief and attention, we won’t feel the need to judge our thinking or try and control the uncontrollable. A thought becomes a thought, no more and no less.
In this non-judgmental state, we develop compassion for our thoughts, regardless of the contents. This compassion breeds a whole new level of understanding that makes one wonder why they felt the need to judge, fear, or change their thoughts in the first place.
How The Mind Really Works
The mind works like a projector. It reflects our own thoughts back to us and we call what we see “reality”. We’re watching the movie of our own mind, we’re not the movie, and therefore we’re not our thoughts.
Sure, we can direct the film through editing the speed, colour, and sound, but what we cannot do is create the film. We don’t even have control over which film gets placed into the projector.
Where Our Thoughts Actually Come From
This remains a mystery. This mystery is what religion, mystics, and spiritual leaders try to put into words that which cannot be described with words.
What we do know is that we don’t create our thoughts, we receive them and we observe them. Similarly to how we listen to a radio, and if we don’t control what is on the radio, what control do we have?
What Control We Really Have
You’re driving along, listening to the radio, you’re favourite song has just ended, the next one comes on. It’s a song that has been so overplayed; you’ve heard it way too many times recently. What do you do? Change the station.
The next station plays a song that reminds you of your ex…neeeeext. The station after is playing a song that has always had this negative vibe to it…next.
After flicking through the stations, you find one of your favourite songs, a song that energizes you every time you hear it. Finally! So you decide to stay at this station for the rest of the song, then the cycle repeats itself.
We don’t have the power to decide what plays on the radio, but we do have control over which station we decide to listen to.
This is kind of how our minds work. Our brain is like a radio in the sense that it’s a receiver. It receives thoughts from an unknown source of intelligence.
We don’t have control over the thoughts that we receive in our head, but we do have control over which ones to listen to. Not giving attention to a thought is similar to changing the radio station, whereas giving attention to a thought is similar to remaining on a radio station.
Just as we have zero control over being able to stop thoughts from popping into our head, we have zero control over which thoughts pop into our head.
An even more important distinction to recognize is that we have complete control over which thoughts we choose to believe.
To play devil’s advocate to what I just said, for those who believe in fate, it can even be argued that we don’t even choose our thoughts. Who told us to choose a certain thought? To believe a certain thought? It can be said that it’s part of our destiny and that the script is already written and we’re just playing it out.
It’s estimated that we have 60,000 – 100,000 thoughts swirl around in our head on any given day. Most of these thoughts are regurgitated and go unnoticed, none of these thoughts were placed in our head by choice, wrap your head around that.
Do We Have The Power To Create A Positive Thought?
If I presented you a blue ball in my hand and told you to choose the red one, could you do it?
Similarly, if you were presented with a negative thought and I told you to choose the positive one, could you do it?
Why is it that when we need an empowering thought the most it doesn’t seem to come? If we had the power to create one then we surely would. Instead, we wait until one pops into our head. And, if we’re too distracted or overwhelmed, we’ll completely miss the thought altogether.
Since I’ve pointed to the understanding we don’t create our thinking, this also points towards the understanding that we can’t create a positive thought. We can choose one, but we cannot create one.
If you’ve never made a million dollars before and I asked you to create a thought that will tell you how to make 1 million dollars in 1 week, could you do it? Why not?
I think this is where the distinction between choosing a thought and creating a thought really needs to be distinguished.
Here’s an example I received recently:
“At any time, I can recognize I am being hard on myself and then consciously choose to think, “I deserve a little credit for everything I did right today.” That’s an example of consciously choosing to create an empowering thought, and I’ve actually done this many times!”
I can see many people being confused by this, as it confused the heck out of me at one point as well.
Who placed the thought “I deserve a little credit for everything I did right today.” into their head?
Where did that thought come from? Once again, this remains a mystery.
This person chose to give that thought attention and bring it to life with belief, but only after the thought was created and delivered as an option in the mind’s eye. If we had the power to consciously create “positive” and empowering thoughts then we would do it all the time, but I’m sure based on experience, we can all agree that this is just not true.
As fascinating as the mind is, it is limited to only one thought at a time. One thought that we didn’t create but the one thought that we chose.
I understand that this is a hard concept to grasp, and one that can completely rock your world. Especially for those who want to think they’re in control, it can be earth shattering to even fathom the idea that you’re not in control of which thoughts get created and place into your head. That all you have control of is which thoughts you choose to give attention.
The opposite to control is freedom, free from the need or desire to control. This is when we will experience true freedom of mind.
Where Is Freedom Of Mind?
There’s no freedom in condemnation. Freedom lay not with judgement but with non-judgement. A mind that condemns a thought due to a negative judgement is not a free mind.
This is a mind that is on edge, constantly on the lookout for the enemy. A mind that fears harm upon itself is not a free mind, this is a paranoid mind.
A liberated mind does not judge itself; it accepts what arises and understands that it does not need to attempt to control the uncontrollable.
True freedom of mind lay not without certain thoughts but with all thoughts. True freedom of mind lay not with fear of certain thoughts but with love for all thought.
The Repercussions Of Always Trying To Think Positive
Firstly, if your expectation is that you should always think positive then you will be thoroughly disappointed. You’re setting yourself up for failure, this is one battle you will never, ever win.
Your frustrations during this battle will generate their own negative thoughts by way of continuous judgement of yourself for not gaining control. This will ultimately lead to the creation of an ongoing teeter-totter between positive and negative thinking.
This constant battle is exhausting, it takes up so much mental energy. This is wasted energy that could arguably be better spent on creativity or imagination, among other things.
A More Peaceful Approach To Our Thoughts And Emotions
Typically, negative thoughts are judged as negative due to the feeling they induce. Common feelings such as anger, guilt, frustration and resentment are regularly judged as negative emotions leading us to believe that our thinking is negative.
What if there is no such thing as a negative thought?
I like to view our emotions as indicators sending us messages. An innocent indicator that points us toward our thinking that has led to that emotion. Not to judge the thoughts, but to see the innocence and harmlessness in the thoughts, and to see the thoughts with compassion.
Feelings are a barometer of our thoughts at any given time
– George Pransky, The Relationship Handbook
The messages we receive are always a reflection of our thoughts at the moment since each one of our thoughts gives birth to a corresponding emotion. Therefore, the benefit of any thought, whether we judge it as positive or negative, is that it will generate a feeling which we can use to better understand our thinking at the moment.
If you pay attention to your feelings without judgement, you’ll see that they’re a great indicator to which thoughts you’re giving the most attention.
In my experience, see our thoughts with understanding and compassion are a much more peaceful approach than constantly judging.
Generate Clarity With Just 2 Powerful Questions
Rather than constantly judging our thinking, I propose a much more peaceful and non-judgmental way to explore our thoughts. There are two powerful questions I like to ask myself that help me see with more clarity, they are:
Is this thought really true?
Does this thought serve the greater good?
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.
If your most cherished material possessions were taken away from you, would you still be truly and infinitely happy?
This question humbles me personally, it reminds me that I have yet to own my happiness regardless of what is happening in the outside world and that I’m an infinite student of living from the inside-out.
It’s hard to fathom a world without our most cherished material possessions. I have a difficult time imagining my life without them. Would I still be happy? At first, I don’t think I would. I do have full confidence that I would find inner happiness though.
What I like about this question is how it directs us inward for happiness. To look in the opposite direction of the material world that we have become so reliant upon for chasing our happiness. Gaining happiness from material things is always temporary, keeping us on the search either until we die or until we wake up.
Instead of trying to learn how to be happy, try unlearning your current formula for happiness and you will discover true happiness. Happiness isn’t acquired through the sum of some formula, happiness is acquired through the realization that we have all we need at this moment and not a drop less.
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.
I hear many people say they aren’t creative, yet creativity is innate. We each have access to a wellspring of creativity. Unfortunately, some people don’t seem to be aware of this. We all have equal access to the same source of creativity.
Think of creativity as the sun and your personal thinking as the clouds, just because on a cloudy day you can’t see it, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
I think one misconception people have is that creativity comes in the form of art. Leading them to believe that because they aren’t interested in art, or they aren’t good at art (in their opinion), then that means they aren’t creative.
Art is just one form of creativity. Creativity can come through in many areas of life and work. Think of creativity as finding a new way to think of something or do something. To create something original for you in your life or create a new way of thinking.
Examples of creativity:
You could create a new perspective on:
You could create:
A new recipe
More value at work
Other avenues to make money
More meaningful relationships
A morning/evening ritual
When it comes to being creative, the options are infinite. Any time you have created something in your life you have used your creativity.
If we’re all creative beings, how do we access our innate creativity?
The simple equation that generates creativity is this:
A new thought comes from…well, who knows. All we know is that we didn’t create it, we just observe it.
This is very different from our personal thinking, which you can think of as old thought. These are the thoughts that we have thought before, they are nothing new. They are personal to us because they are bound to us and regurgitated.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.”
– Albert Einstein
A single new thought can generate an insight that changes your entire life. A single new thought can give you the framework to create something new in the world.
So, how do we get new thoughts?
If creativity is the sun and our personal thinking (old thoughts) are the clouds, a little less attention to our personal thinking will allow the sun to peak through. A cloudless sky isn’t necessary to see the light, all that is needed is a momentary gap between clouds to shed some light.
We don’t need a blank mind to allow our creativity to come through. We just need to pay a little less attention to our personal thinking and allow a momentary gap for a new thought to come through.
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.
I’ve learned that I see the world differently than most, I used to see it as a weakness because I couldn’t relate and so I submitted all the time. Now, I see it as a strength, sharing my true nature with those who want to experience a different world.