Every week when I show up for the “Stinking Thinking Hangout” at the Siloam Mission homeless shelter, it always reminds me of the infinite potential for thought, and how little
I appear to tap into it. It comes mainly in the realization of how much time I spend thinking about “me”, and what a small, limited world I create for myself because of it. It’s like as soon as I walk through the mission doors, I get a little
“shake of the head”, so that I can pop out of the personal me, and for a couple of hours at least, consider the rest of humanity that I happen to share this planet with.
Of course, all this me-thinking isn’t really something I need to be concerned about. After all, I’m always with “me” wherever I go, so it makes
sense that I tend to notice me and pay attention to me, more than anyone or anything else. As well, I’m not consciously placing any of the navel-gazing thoughts into my head… they’re just appearing, and I am somehow navigating them as they
appear. I also happen to know that the main reason why I don’t want to be concerned, is that by being concerned about how much I think about me, I end up thinking more about me. Isn’t that hilarious? It makes me laugh, and fortunately, when I’m
laughing, I’m usually not thinking about me. Thank goodness! I can give myself a rest!
Now, as for the infinite potential for thought, I have a funny little story to share…
When discussing the “illusion of thought” with a client who appeared at a recent hangout, he had an amusing example of how easily we can have
one single momentary thought appear in our head, and believe it’s true, and as a consequence, have that “made up” belief affect our experience in a significant way. We have a thought, it creates a powerful feeling, and so we pay attention
to it, and give it significance, and think more about it, making it even more real, instead of realizing one of the other "infinite" number of perspectives that could be considered.
While the client was serving time in prison under maximum security, a new man arrived on the block. At some point early after his arrival, the new man met eyes with
a particularly large fellow inmate, who gave him such an intense look of “I’m going to kill you” through a set of piercing dark squinted eyes, that he immediately went into a state of fear. Fortunately for this man, in maximum security, the
time spent within the company of other inmates is limited, but one of the times when they would be together in the same room was during the chapel service. Because of this man’s intense fear, he made arrangements for a couple of guards to escort him
to the chapel and stay with him throughout the service.
I don’t know exactly what happened
from there, but at some point the fearful inmate discovered that his fellow “large and squinty-eyed” inmate had no interest in him at all… he had simply recently broken his glasses, and had to squint all the time to be able to see.
One simple thought, and then the innocent belief in that one thought, leads to a whole set of feelings,
and behaviours, and actions… One, single, simple, thought. Wow! It’s so easy to believe any story we make up in our head as real, when we have a thinking/feeling system that is so incredibly compelling and convincing, and supportive to what we
believe…. A good lesson for me to remember whenever I’m thinking about “me”, or anything else for that matter.