What Priceless Thoughts Can Cost You

It often happeth, that the very face sheweth the mind walking a pilgrimage, in such wise that, not without some note and reproach of such vagrant mind, other folk suddenly say to them, ‘A penny for your thought.’
— Sir Thomas More, "The Four Last Things", 1522

Bedtime. Reading. Tired. Alone. Contemplative... Wondering if the person I was thinking of at this moment could read what was on my mind if they were looking at me.

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How accurately do our thoughts register on our faces? No matter what we say we are thinking, no one can truly know what's going on in our heads but us. We can say one thing and think another, or we can express our thoughts openly, with no pretense, and still be misunderstood. 

Whatever we decide to do with our thoughts, ultimately, they belong to us, and us alone. We choose who to share them with and who to conceal them from. Be it for love, intimacy, trust, distrust, insecurity, or fear of reproach, we all decide which thoughts we reveal to others and which ones we keep to ourselves.

Most of our thoughts are manageable and accepted by us as true reflections of how we feel. Most thoughts we don't fight and instead welcome and encourage.

But those "priceless" ones that we don't share with anyone - those which a penny nor a fortune could buy - are the ones we have to be especially mindful of, as they have the most potential to do harm to us and to our relationships. Kept locked inside, but let lose in our minds, these thoughts can take control; and, if left unchecked, they can morph into beliefs or ideas that don't even represent what we truly feel in our hearts. They can seize command of our balanced mind and leave it unbalanced and struggling to find its equilibrium amidst all the convolution.

An exaggeration? Possibly. But it is no exaggeration that when we allow our thoughts to become runaway trains, steering our actions and behaviors down the wrong path, they can adversely affect our overall health and wellbeing - taking our peace, our equanimity, and our balance along for the ride. They can disrupt our daily lives, color how we see and relate to the world, and skew how we see and relate to others.

It is liberating to express thoughts openly without shame, apprehension or constraint. Yet, so often we don't feel free to do this. Why do we feel we must hold some of them in? Is it for fear of judgment, rejection, or criticism? Is it insecurity or self-consciousness? I read something the other day - I don't know who I'm quoting because it wasn't credited - but it went as follows: "I wish people could just say how they feel like 'Hey I really don't like when you do that to me' or 'Hey I'm in love with you' or 'Hi I really miss you and I think about you all the time' without sounding desperate. Why can't everyone be painfully honest and just save people the trouble."

It's true. Sometimes we aren't honest about our feelings to others, let alone to ourselves. Sometimes our actions don't accurately reflect the feelings and thoughts that initiated them in the first place. What we end up doing can sometimes seem desperate, so misguided by a half-baked, compulsive thought created in an unstable frame of mind, that we immediately regret the behavior. Sometimes we are so in need of connection that we find the path of least resistance to get the connection we seek, and then fail at effectively making that very connection we wanted after all. 

A clear mind is required to fully process our thoughts and recognize what it is we ultimately want; and in turn, to then act accordingly with clarity and purpose. Not settling for what we can get on the fly, without any thoughtful intention, is challenging. It requires restraint and discipline to stay focused on our true intent, our real needs, our deepest desires.

And for many, it's finding and maintaining that clear mind that may be the biggest challenge of all. We all find our peace and happiness in our own ways, and some of us are better at it than others.

But whatever you do to maintain your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health and wellbeing, just remember this one simple truth: 

Thoughts are powerful. Use them wisely. Be mindful of the ones that serve you, and the ones that don't.

#nofilter

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It is something that is not hard for me to do... sharing without a filter, that is. In general, I don't have a problem talking to people about my feelings, and I don't usually feel the need to edit myself or hold back what I'm feeling or thinking, especially not with those I love and trust.

At times I've been applauded for it, admired for it, loved for it. Some think it's endearing, a strength of character, a breath of fresh air. Other times, and most obviously by other people, I've been criticized for it, judged for it, scorned for it. They think it's inappropriate, insensitive, tmi.

I can see both sides of this. I see my candidness as an attribute at times; but do recognize it as a liability other times. When I share while in an altered emotional state (read: hormonal), or at a time when an experience has rendered me in a state of bewilderment, with conflicting feelings and thoughts running rampant through my head, it is most definitely a liability, and most often a HUGE mistake. In these unfortunate times, when I speak my mind without considering the consequences first, I really wish I had a more effective internal filter.

That's just it though. Speaking MY MIND. What the hell does my mind have to do with what I am feeling anyway? My mind is not me... my core, my soul. My mind is more often my enemy, hijacking my intuition away from my emotional true self, my core being.

It is sometimes a foolhardy and misguided practice, this thinking bit, this speaking of your mind. I know it is. I know it because when it comes to real, rich, human experiences, instinct and intuition are vital. Taking in and living an experience, feeling it, being in the moment, and then accepting the reality of it - without allowing your mind to weigh in - this is paramount.

You lived it. You experienced it. Now... for God's sakes, STOP.

STOP. FEEL. DON'T REACT. ACCEPT.

Do not, under any circumstances, let your mind take over. If you do, it will be sure to talk you out of what you felt, pass judgement on what you felt, and possibly lead you to think that what you felt was not at all what you felt but something entirely different. The inmate has now taken over the asylum, and it will most assuredly lead you to start speaking the half baked thoughts it conjured up as if they are the ultimate truth. This with no filter, mind you. What does it care? It's in charge now and it's relishing the power.

Having heralded that to death, I just have to say that, for me, it's not the knowing this to be the right thing that is the hard part;  but rather it's the putting all that I know and have learned into practice that is the challenge.

Knowing it, writing about it, seeking daily the mindfulness to succeed in it - that mindfulness to which I have often referred in my posts (especially the one on Equanimity) - all of it still doesn't prevent me from screwing up sometimes.

Most recently regarding an experience that elicited the most overwhelming of feelings in me. Even though I initially had every intention to restrain the erratic thoughts, feelings and impulses that were hijacking my inner peace, I acted on and spoke my mind's brief insanity. My over-analytical brain foiled me again; and foolishly, I let random thoughts, hasty assessments and careless absolutes escape from my mouth.

In the aftermath, not surprisingly, I was disappointed by what I had done and expressed and troubled by how it was perceived and received. Aware that I couldn't take any of it back, but wishing so much that I could… This was a "Woe Is Me" moment if there ever was one. 

So where do I go from here? What do I do when the desire for a do-over, a chance to right a wrong, is futile? What do I do when I have no choice but to accept there's no going back?

I guess I just work to tame the beast of my analytical mind from wreaking havoc and hone my filtering skills so in the future I don't do and say things that I'll regret... all the while moving forward, recognizing that what truly defines me is my next move, not my last.

Aren't mistakes just opportunities to grow and learn and do differently, dare I say better, the next time? I have to believe that. That's my truth, my perspective. #nofilter