Questioning your own thoughts is the fastest way to change your thinking. When you start questioning your thoughts, your subconscious will provide you with rationalizations and pain to avoid changing. Push through it, because peace is on the other side. The subconscious will only change when it has been proven incorrect.
When you feel pain, try to identify the thought that is causing it. It can be:
“I am not pretty enough”
“I am failing myself”
“My husband should do the dishes more”
Then use the following questions to uncover the truth behind your thought. The following is a method based on Byron Katie’s book I Need Your Love – Is that True? , which I highly recommend.
Step 1 – Is it true?
The first step after you have identified the thought is to ask “Is it true?”
Is it true that your husband should do the dishes? The reality is that he is not doing the dishes right now. Is it true that he should be doing it? Is your happiness really dependent on him doing the dishes?
Wishing reality to be different from what it really is IS the cause of pain.
Step 2 – Can you know it is absolutely true?
The second step is to ask if you can know, absolutely, if it is true.
Is it an absolute law of the universe that your husband should do the dishes?
Can you know, absolutely, that you are not pretty enough?
Of course you cannot know any of this absolutely, but admitting this is usually not easy.
If you hold onto your belief that your thoughts are absolutely true, you will continue to stew in hell.
If a molten hot rock came into your hands, would you hold onto it? Or would you see that there is no reason for you to keep holding on. It doesn’t serve your purpose, so you let it go.
Step 3 – How do you react when you believe that thought?
The third step is to ask, “How do you react when you believe that thought?” How does it feel when you think the thought. Where does it hurt? What kind of person are you with the thought? How does it affect you? How do you treat others? Do you feel inner peace?’
Step 4 – Who would you be if you couldn’t think that thought?
The fourth step is to ask yourself who you would be without the thought.
Who would you be if it was impossible for your to think the thought?
If you couldn’t think the thought “my husband should do the dishes”, you could be standing there, doing the dishes, and look over to your husband with love in your eyes. You wouldn’t judge him.
Love is the absence of judgment. – Buddha
If you couldn’t think the thought “I am not pretty enough”, you would act more confident.
Step 5 – Flip It Around
The fifth step is to flip the thought around, and then find one to three reasons why each change in the thought is as true or truer than the original statement.
“I am not pretty enough” can be flipped into
“I am not ugly enough”
How can this possibly be true? Your mind will scream to you that it can’t possibly be true.
- If was uglier it would be easier to let go of the need to be pretty.
- I would learn to trust my abilities instead of my looks
- I would have less superficial relationships
Next, it can be flipped into “I am pretty enough”.
This can obviously be true or truer than the original statement.
- This IS how pretty I am. It is perfect because it is.
- Because I am lovable.
- I am pretty enough because I decide to accept myself as I am
Your subconscious needs to see the other side. It needs reasons for changing. Give yourself those reasons.
Persistence is Key
Persist until you have completed each step. You are fooling yourself if you believe your stories are absolutely true.
Sometimes it is difficult to identify the thought, because it is subconscious and you just feel like shit.
This is an excellent opportunity to explore your mind, by using the “maybe-method”. When we brainstorm with maybe’s we feel more relaxed than when we’re using definite statements.
Maybe I feel like this because I,
… think I am unlovable
… think my wife doesn’t love me
… think that my neighbour is trying to sabotage me
Whatever it is, immediately ask yourself, “do I believe this?”
If your answer is yes, go straight into inquiry and step 1.
“Is this true?”
Byron, K. & Katz, M. (2005). I Need Your Love – Is That True? How to Stop Seeking Love, Appreciation, and Approval and Start Finding Them Instead, Harmony Books.