Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Question of the Month

Question of the month:

Did you attempt the 17 second challenge last month (or any of the other exercises)? If so, how did it go?
What challenges did you encounter?

  • I got to 17 seconds and beyond.
  • I got between 10 and 16 sceonds.
  • I got between 1 and 9 seconds.
  • I didn’t try yet, but I will!!!

Please answer in the comments section below.

Just the Facts.... or Your Thoughts Create Your Reality

September 2008




Quote of the month:
The only thing we are ever dealing with is a thought
and a thought can be changed.

- Louise L. Hay

"Just the facts, ma'am! Just the facts!"........is the line Sgt. Joe Friday is quoted as using on Dragnet. That could be an another accurate title for this month's blog.

When looking at any particular issue in our lives, we tend to somewhat unconsciously make judgments about those issues. For example if you get a raise at work you may unconsciously say, "I got a raise at work (comma) and that is a good thing." You may start to think about what you will do with the money and what you want to buy with it. This may make you feel happy!


On the other hand, if you get a flat tire, you may unconsciously say, "I got a flat tire, (comma) and that is a bad thing." You may start to get anxious about how you will change the tire or angry and tell yourself stories about how unfair it is and how these things always seem to happen at the worst possible time (did I mention you were on your way to an important meeting?) Then you start to think about how upset the person you are meeting with will be when you are late and that you probably won't get the account.....etc., etc., etc.


I also call this "making up stories". I am intentionally using very obvious examples to make a point. In both cases, there was a FACT. The thoughts that create the actual feeling came after that fact. The fact was going to remain the same NO MATTER what you choose to tell yourself about it or how you chose to feel about it. It is important to recognize that it is a choice AND separate from the actual fact!


Most people probably would agree in both cases that the raise is "good" and the flat tire is "bad". I am simply suggesting that it is not necessary to judge and label everything in our lives on a constant basis....especially when what we are telling ourselves is making us feel a way that we do not want to feel. Simply choosing NOT to make up any stories about the flat tire allows you to deal with changing it more efficiently. You don't first have to deal with all the negative emotions on top of having to still change the tire!


Let me give you another example.... Living in an area where it frequently snows.....we have had to learn to deal with shoveling and driving in the snow [and this was especially challenging when coming from a warm climate where it doesn't snow.......or am I just making up a story? ;) ] When a snow storm is coming, we may be tempted to say, "It's going to snow, (comma) and that is a very bad thing!" My boys, on the other hand, who love playing in the snow might say, "It's going to snow, (comma) and that is a very good thing!" The facts of the matter remain the same - it is going to snow. Inserting the comma and any judgment after that is purely choice....as is the resulting feeling about the snow.


We all do this every day in many little ways.....and it does become more challenging to recognize we are doing this when the things we are judging are not so obvious. Try to be aware of what you are telling yourself at least some the time. This goes back to what I wrote about last month...... recognizing that tape or CD that constantly plays in our head ....and learning to pause it long enough to recognize that you are making a judgment. [**It has been brought to my attention, that if I really want to be up to date, I need to further update my analogy! I now need to call it an I-pod!] This month we are not only talking about pausing the I-pod, CD or tape but then becoming aware of the content!


Here are some very simple exercises I would like to suggest for this month…
  • When you are able to pause the "I-pod" in your head.....try to notice if you are making some sort of judgment......if you can, think about how that thought might be making you feel. Some good times to try this might be when you are waiting in a long line, stuck in traffic or notice that it is raining (or snowing!) You may even want to try it if you receive some good news.
  • Another more challenging time to try it is if someone is saying something that you don't agree with. What are you telling yourself about what they are saying? Or what are you telling yourself about the person? Initially, it might be better to try this when you are watching TV, listening to the news or talk radio....when the person is not right in front of you.....again just to keep it simple at first!
  • Another exercise would be to think to yourself as you slowly read the following list of words....what feelings the word generates...then try to pause the I-pod and become aware of the thought that caused that feeling..... you don't have to share your results with anyone unless you want to.....so be honest with yourself.
American.....
Democrat....
Republican....
Islamic.....
Grandmother.....
Brother.....
New York City..... Key West.....
Work...... Vacation......
Labor Day….. New Year‘s Day…...
Rainy...... Windy….. Cloudy..... Snowing.... (that one is for me!!!)
Rush Hour

How about Spiders....…? Or Snakes? (I am sorry to the people who will KNOW these last 2 were especially for them!)


Remember, if you felt something when you thought of the word, then you are making up some sort of story about that particular word! The idea this month is just to notice and become aware that we doing it.


Most judgments happen so quickly that we don't even realize that we are making them....we are unaware that we are doing it. Many such judgments happen repetitively, to the point that we believe them as fact. Many are dictated to us by society, the media, the advertising business, our cultural background, our families....or any other group with which we associate ourselves…..and quite often we can find a large group of people who would agree with our version of the story.


Just like I made up driving in snow is "bad"…..it turns out..... it can actually be kind of FUN with the 4 wheel drive!!!!! So....until next month..... Just the facts, sir and ma'am!!!! Just the facts!


I would love to hear your feedback as well as any questions you may have or topics you may be interested in for the future. You may send them to me at penelope@simplyspirituality.com or comment at the bottom of the blog. All posts will be archived on my blog along with other useful information at:
Simply Spirituality or
to continue reading the next post, click the following link...
The Whole Elephant



Until next month....
Keep it Simple!
Penelope


Picture of the month
Snow, MN, March 2008