I once took a class about personal empowerment and that is the phrase we were told. We were informed to look around our homes and to clean up the clutter. We were told, “If it’s not useful or beautiful, get rid of it!”
I decided that’s not a bad way to live your life all the way around, and I’m not meaning about just ‘things’ either.
Take your thoughts and your self-talk. Think about how much happier would we all be if the only thoughts we had and the only feelings we allowed into our experience were those thoughts and feelings that were either ‘useful or beautiful.’
Now, we all have memories—some good, some bad, based on our perceptions of the memories. We can all agree that some things we once thought were bad really were important or ‘useful’ to us in the long run. Sometimes these seemingly negative things in our lives are things we can learn from, grow from, and let them change us or our lives in positive ways.
I read something recently that said, “Suffering is just the mind and body’s way of showing you an error in thinking.”
I agree with this. When we correct the error in thinking, we no longer suffer. Much like physical pain warns us of a problem with our bodies we should address, emotional pain warns us of a problem in our lives we should address.
Therefore, I’m not saying we should forget the ‘bad’ things that have happened in our lives. Too many of us know we learned from mistakes and pain of the past and to forget means to be doomed to repeat these things.
What I am saying is that if we change our thinking to where we remember only those things that are ‘useful or beautiful’ we will not re-experience the negative aspect of these memories. We will only allow into our experience that from our memories which is ‘useful or beautiful.’
Pain is sometimes useful. In the strictest sense, physical pain is something we feel and experience to alert us that there could be a potential problem.
If you break your arm, it hurts. Why?
So that we know something is wrong and can take steps to fix it. If we fix it, eventually the pain goes away. If we do not fix it, the pain may subside, but it will never leave completely, or it will cause other residual effects, like loss of function.
Pain in the emotional sense is no different. This pain is also there to alert of a problem that needs to be repaired. If we experience emotional pain (suffering), then it is our body, mind and heart’s way of alerting us that something is bruised or broken. If we ignore this pain, it never properly heals. It will either always hurt or we will lose some sort of function because of the problem.
Pain is useful, but only in that it alerts us to a problem. Once we feel the pain , and we are aware of the problem, pain no longer serves a purpose. Therefore, we can release the pain, both physical and emotional, and begin the healing process and repair that which is in need of repair.
So by saying that we should only have thoughts and feelings that are useful or beautiful, I am not saying that we should not experience things we perceive to be negative. What I am saying is that we should, when we experience these negative thoughts, stop for a moment and ask ourselves, “Okay, this is not a beautiful thought, so how is it useful to me?”
Then, if we decide it is not useful to us, we can let it go, release it, and spend no more time or energy on that negative influence, thought or feeling.
However, if we determine that this negative thought is useful, that is, there is something that needs our attention, something that needs repaired, something that needs to change, then we acknowledge the negative thought or feeling and we can then be grateful for the feeling, thought, emotion.
“Grateful?” you ask. “Why would I be grateful for something I perceive to be negative?”
You cannot wallow in the pain and despair and feel grateful for it, but if you look at the pain or anger or negativity as nothing more than a warning, can you not be grateful for the warning?
Sure. I mean, if someone knows your house is on fire, but they drive by and do nothing, say nothing and your house burns down, how thankful or grateful will you be to that person?
However, if they knock on your door, call 911, get help, and save some of your house or put the fire out quickly, then aren’t you grateful to them for the warning? They brought you negative information, but you are still grateful to them for it.
That’s what I mean by being grateful for negative things in our lives. We can be grateful for the negative things that come into our lives when we look at them as merely warnings and lessons, be grateful for what they show us, and then move on to repair the problem. This results in the pain subsiding and eventually leaving us, and then the lesson remains.
From this point forward, I make a vow that I am going to be very aware of my thoughts and feelings, and if they are not useful or beautiful, I am not going to allow them into my experience.
I think the world would be a much better place if everyone did this to the extent to which they are capable.
What are you holding onto in your life that is no longer useful or beautiful?
Love and stuff,