Have you ever felt like everywhere you turned you were being given a message? And that message was so relevant to your life right now that it couldn’t possibly be a coincidence?
Many years ago I read a book called ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle. At the time I wasn’t in any way open to the type of wisdom and understanding of the universe that I am now. It was just recommended to me by someone that knew I was feeling a bit down and said it had changed her life. I remember starting to read it, climbing into bed straight from work, and reading for about 3 hours straight. I was totally absorbed in it and really understood the concept. I thought it was going to change my life. But I soon forgot all about living that way. And many years later when I tried to read it again in an attempt to feel the same way, that this was the answer to all my problems, I just couldn’t get into it. Yet it’s an international bestseller, often on people’s ‘must read’ lists. I think at that point I was just at a place in my life where I needed minimum effort to feel better; not too much thinking!
But since my second try with this book I’ve spent literally the last 2 years all consumed in my thoughts. They drive me absolutely crazy. I explained to someone I trusted only 2 weeks ago that 98 per cent of my waking day is spent thinking about a string of incidents that just felt like it had destroyed me. They call it ruminating: going over and over AND OVER something in your mind. And it’s totally overwhelming to live like that. I spoke to another friend who has had an awful life in comparison to mine about it a while ago, and she admitted she barely thought about the events of her life. She just switches her TV on at night and basically forgets all about what has happened to her. She admits she is depressed, but she just wasn’t constantly thinking about the reasons why like I was. She told me my biggest problem was that I think too much. And as true as that was it made me feel like I was the only person feeling absolutely tormented by my thoughts. Yes, her way of living wasn’t alleviating her depression, but at least she wasn’t re-living events over and over again, years after they had happened. And I fell into more feelings of despair as I felt my ruminating was absolutely incurable and that nobody else was dealing with it like I was. I tried meditating, but I just couldn’t concentrate. I tried keeping busy, but I just ended up busy whilst in a daze, distracted by my thoughts. I just wanted a break from it all. To sum up the extent of what I was living with, I would drive to work and not even remember how I got there, totally lost in my thoughts. I do a mundane job, and I found my day consumed with re-living events. And worse still I’d be so lost in my thoughts that some time later I’d realise I had taken those thoughts, imagined future scenarios, and I was now having imaginary arguments in my head with these people over things that had never even happened. And I would only stop myself when I got so angry and thought, “Hang on a second, this hasn’t even happened and may never happen. So why am I preparing for it, and in doing so feeling all the emotions that go with that?” Can anybody else relate to this?
It’s like my narcissistic friend that spread false rumours about me. I started ruminating on what I knew as a fact that she’d said; the text messages mutual friends showed me. That did in fact happen; there was no denying the evidence. But then I took my anger from that and fell into daydreams day in, day out, where I would start to imagine how those mutual friend may have responded; “Oh, I know what you mean about Dawn!” “Has she really done that? Just goes to show you never know a person!” “That’s awful! I can’t believe we’ve been friends with Dawn all these years and not seen it in her!” Conversations that may never ever have happened! I imagined what they did after they showed me those messages, “Of course I’ll never show Dawn what you text me!” The anger would build in me! I imagined the thoughts going on in their head, “If I side with Dawn that’s only one friend I save. If I pretend I agree with these things about Dawn I won’t lose a whole bunch of friends!” I painted a picture in my own mind that may never ever have been true. Yes, nobody was showing me anything to the contrary. But my imagination made me re-live that situation ten times worse. I guess my brain felt it was protecting me, imagining all the worst case scenarios that hadn’t happened yet and what I could do when they did inevitably happen!
And then in our women’s networking group 2 weeks ago it was discussed about our thoughts and not just letting them dictate our emotions to us. We were told about being the observer of them and realising that they are in actual fact just thoughts. They talked about how we can just watch our thoughts roll on by, like they were flowing past in a river, and not to get attached to them. This prompted me to think again about ‘The Power of Now’ and I knew that the message in that book was very similar to what I was being told and that I needed to investigate this way of thinking again. Then almost by chance I ordered some books and chose ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael A Singer, which is a book I’ve seen people talk about before but never rushed out to buy. It’s always been on my wish list, but in all honesty if I’d have picked it up in the shop I would have been put off by the small writing. I needed it simple! I ironically didn’t want to have to think too much about my thoughts! But once I bought this book I started reading a sample on the kindle and I was hooked. I’m only a few chapters in and the parts I’ve read are, to me, all about watching your thoughts and being the consciousness behind those thoughts; the observer of those thoughts.
I’ve in no way grasped it yet, nor am I any sort of expert. But I do know that this is the next stage in my journey. I’ve spent many years trying to distract myself from these thoughts, thinking that other people don’t have them, that I need to master ignoring them, that I need to think of other things. But it’s like pushing a balloon under water. They just spring back up with a vengeance. And I know now that I need to accept I am always going to have these thoughts. I will always catastrophise a situation. That’s just me! I am always going to question every conversation I have with people and think, “What were they really thinking? Were they just agreeing with me to my face? What if they go and do this, this and this now? Oh my goodness, what if this happens now? How am I going to deal with that?” But if I can recognise these thoughts and let them pass without attaching myself to them and forming an emotion from them, I will be so much closer to happiness than I ever have been.
Please let me know if anyone else out there feels this way. Have you mastered your thoughts or found a way to do so? Or can anyone recommend any further books to read on the subject? I’m finding ‘The Untethered Soul’ so easy to read and relate to, but I don’t want to go back to it in the future and find it doesn’t have the same effect like I have with ‘The Power of Now’. I love learning, and especially all about life, so I’d love to hear any recommendations you all have.