I’m going rogue to tell you one unpopular truth about your thoughts:
Practicing the regurgitated version of “Change your thoughts, change your life” is not all you need to have a perfectly happy and empowered life.
Yes it’s true, we can consciously decide to create more positive and empowered beliefs—who really wants to believe they are worthless or unlovable?
Perhaps we can also temporarily think better thoughts.
But it’s really an overly-simplified, incomplete, and one-dimensional transformation concept—one that can leave you in one of two less-than-desirable camps:
Ending up like other spiritual bypassers who proclaim: “love and light!” or “there is no such thing as trauma, you just gotta shift your thoughts and not believe your negative feelings, man.”
Or, you’ll end up with a ton of self-help education jammed in your head. Knowing how to monitor your criminal mind but at the expense of learning how to compassionately connect with what your thoughts are pointing you to.
And then it’s only a matter of time before you’re triggered again—your self-esteem drops to the floor, you feel at war with yourself, and you’re completely gridlocked.
You’re caught up in obsessive rumination while experiencing low-grade levels of shame and blame because you didn’t get invited to the secret spiritual sorority where everyone just “changes their thoughts” and then it’s all peace, happiness, and landslides of love all the time.
Thoughts don’t control that much. They aren’t that evil, either.
We experience feelings way before we ever develop the capacity for rational thought processes, developmentally and evolutionarily speaking. As babies, the subconscious part of our brain (the non-verbal, sensing, feeling, and survival part of our brain) is processing feelings and perceptions long before our conscious, logical, and verbal brain development ever kicks in.
Unfortunately, because most of the Western society self-help and the Eastern spiritual wisdom culture gives exorbitant amounts of attention and credit to our thinking—most of us are under the false perception that we are thinking beings with feelings.
But really, we are sensing, intuitive feeling beings with thoughts.
For example, when we are feeling hurt by a misunderstood comment, or feeling the fear of a sudden, late-night phone call—there is a split second where the logical brain has not yet taken over, and you have visceral sensations and feelings before you process anything with your mind.
Our conscious thoughts and emotions (different from core feelings and beliefs)—are often covering up, pointing to, or at war with the map of our world. This map primarily originated from an early core imprint of fear or danger, and this still lingers in our subconscious mind.
Although modern-day survival tends toward our relational needs being in jeopardy, as opposed to our actual lives being in danger—to the dependent and impressionable child’s mind, these are one in the same.
Which brings me to the greatest mishap, misunderstanding, and somewhat irresponsible platitude so powerful in self-help, law of attraction, and spiritual teachings:
Our feelings and beliefs come first.
The thoughts come second.
Most of the time.
The subconscious (non-verbal part of our brain) is often overlooked and ignored. Or is simply mentioned in passing within the positive psychology and empowerment paradigms.
But it cannot be taken for granted in a true Wholehuman paradigm of healing, as it supersedes all rational, logical, language, and thought processing for a reason—for our survival.
Our subconscious mind is 100 times more powerful than our conscious mind.
Trying to get the subconscious mind to believe what we logically and rationally think we should believe and feel, is like guiding an elephant who wants to go left, while we are trying to steer him right. (We are the conscious mind in this scenario, and the elephant is our subconscious.)
You may get the elephant to go left for a short period of time with massive amounts of effort involved, you may even think you are going to eventually overpower him, but ultimately, the elephant will win and take over because he is stronger, more powerful, and doesn’t even communicate or process the same way we do.
The subconscious map that creates our world.
Our core wounding, trauma, and imprinting in early life create feelings, sensations, and perceptions that become internalized as beliefs and worldviews.
This can then affect how we show up in the world, how we express ourselves, what we allow into our consciousness, and ultimately what fills our minds as thought forms.
Our thoughts and emotions are not singularly the problem, they are a symptom of the problem; they are a byproduct of an underlying feeling, disconnect, wound, or imprint that has been denied, suppressed, or shoved down into our “deal with this later box”—lying dormant, festering, and fogging up the scrim of our lives.
Working on our thoughts may be a good first step, especially when we are dissociated, disembodied, and overly-identified with our heads—as our thoughts may be the only thing we have access to. But they are really a guide and an access point into deeper healing, integration, and renewal.
Our limiting beliefs and thoughts are not criminals to be wrestled into submission. That is dissociation and aggravated disembodiment, taking us further away from ourselves, and ultimately from love.
We can’t force ourselves to deeply feel or believe what we think we should feel and believe because the subconscious mind doesn’t deal with rationale, logic, present, or linear time—it’s primarily processing feelings, memories, sensations, and subjective perceptions.
We actually have to feel our way into healing; we have to address the debris blocking the way that keeps us separated from ourselves, and from love.
And this starts with how compassionately-present we are to the beautiful language of our coping and survival mechanisms: our minds, our thoughts, and our egos.
Everything we are feeling and experiencing must be allowed to come up to the surface for transmutation in our lives, if we truly want to experience an embodied presence of love and wholeness.
When we finally stop the dissociation, repression, and invalidation game, we can come home to our layered, nuanced, interconnected, Wholehuman complex with love, compassion, understanding, and reverence.
This is how we finally experience, through our own demonstration and reception, the love we are contemplating conceptually, through spiritual and empowerment principles.
From here the emotional triggers, the limiting thoughts, and the dysfunctional survival mechanisms naturally drop and fade away as we integrate all aspects of our humanity—allowing all parts of Self to feel safe, seen, heard, and valued.
So the next time you hear some empowerment guru say something like: “You have to wake up and just decide you’re going change,” “Choose happiness!” or “Just turn on your believer switch and poof! you’ll be brave, beautiful, successful, and a manifesting unicorn!”—I give you permission to walk away, tune them out, and make a mental note: they just don’t understand the beautifully-intricate-and-layered-nuance of the whole human experience, yet.
It’s one thing to be temporarily compelled, inspired, or drunk on empowerment Kool-Aid.
But it’s a completely different thing to be transformed.
To have an emotional, intellectual, and spiritual unification that permeates throughout our entire life.