Thought for the week January 25
The mind is complex. So in trying to command it, we need to get very tricky sometimes. A depressed person asked me to give them assurance that if they practiced Directed Thinking they would someday feel love and joy again. First I told them that I had spent many years depressed but for the last twenty years, without any medication, I have often felt joy and love. But I realize that wanting joy and love, when one does not have it, puts one in a stressful situation. WANTING to feel joy and love does nothing, by itself, to promote joy and love. So I told the person that sometimes when I am not feeling loving, or I don't have life exactly the way I want it I say to myself, AWell, so what if I never feel love or joy again, or have life the way I want it. I can still move forward with my day and make something out of it anyway. I have decided that moving forward with my day, matter how I feel, is always doable and it is my top priority.
The person called me on this by saying that it was a negative thought that I would never have love or joy again. I didn't have a good answer at the moment but I thought about it. It is tricky. Wanting love and joy seems benign and positive. It is the love and joy part that is benign and positive. The wanting is the problem. Any wanting, or desire for something puts a person under stress. This is both the good news and the bad news.
The good news about this is that when we want something, we are under stress and our body produces the fight-or-flight stress chemicals which prepare us biologically for action to go get what we want, or escape from some enemy. However, if what we want isn't directly obtainable, food, water, etc; or directly flee-able like a tiger, we cannot go into action and make use of our stress chemicals. They skew our brain. Love and joy aren't something we can go out and get directly. The brain doesn't make this distinction. We want love and joy. We don't have it. That we want and don't have is a danger signal to the brain and the fight-or-flight response is triggered to prepare our bodies for action.
So in effect, when we decide to accept the present reality of not having love or joy, this is not necessarily negative. It is a surrender to what is, to present reality. And when we surrender to what we don't have at the moment, we are not being negative. We are telling the brain, AHey, we're okay anyway.@ And then the brain believes us and stops churning out all those stress chemicals. When we stop producing stress chemicals, our body changes from the sympathetic to the para-sympathetic mode. In the para-sympathetic mode we are essentially okay and there is a possibility for love and joy to arise in us. This possibility is not present in the sympathetic mode when love and joy are covered over by a blanket of stress and fear, including the fear that we don't have love and joy and want it so bad. Very tricky.
There is a chemical consequence for every thought we think. It is too bad, but the fearful thought, I'm afraid I'm going to be depressed, can surely bring it on. Any fearful thought can skew our brain chemicals. Fearful thoughts produce stress chemicals. We can choose to ignore these fearful thoughts when they pop up AD INFINITUM; and if we insist on neutral thoughts long enough, the fearful thoughts cannot reproduce themselves in our brain. Then if we will insist upon moving forward with our daily schedule, reconnecting with the regular workaday world and turning away from pointless and painful introspection, concentrating upon the task at hand, focusing upon what we are doing instead of what we are feeling, the natural progression of our thoughts through the process of learned association will be set in motion and our thinking will be helpful to us instead of harmful. There is never a time that we cannot think whatever neutral thought we wish to think. NEVER. FOREVER. No matter how much pain we may be in at the moment. We may not WISH to think a neutral thought when we are in pain, but we CAN do it. It is not a matter of wanting to think a neutral thought; is a matter of thinking a neutral thought whether we want to or not that is the secret of success.