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Section 1 - The first step



Does it really matter what we think?

Yes, it does. Nothing exists in physical without first having existed in thought. Thought drives our every action or inaction. The state of humanity is what it is today because of our thoughts, whether positive and negative. If we are ever to solve the problems we face, we must first change ourselves; we cannot change ourselves unless and until we change our own thoughts. We must stop blaming others (the devil, the moon, other people, circumstances, etc.) for our problems and start accepting our power.

Figure 04: We all think, all the time



Figure 04: We all think, all the time

Our thoughts drive our every action or inaction, and they determine the course of our lives. Paying attention to our thoughts, attitudes and emotions, and learning about our belief systems and desires enables us to start changing them.

Food for thought
To truly change self requires changing our thoughts, attitudes, emotions, beliefs and desires.

What are 'thoughts' anyways?

Our thoughts express our spiritual reactions to whatever is going on within us and around us. Thought patterns start forming as soon as soon as a soul settles into its human form. The Universal Intelligence hears every single one of our thoughts, and knows the pattern each thought expresses. For example, thinking something as simple as, "At least I'm not like that person" expresses an attitude of self-righteousness. Our guide flags this as a lesson to be learned, and future experiences will provide us with opportunities to learn humility. Our spiritual reactions are expressed in the following ways:

Thoughts are ideas formed into language using either words, images or symbols. Our thoughts produce the attitudes, emotions, beliefs, desires and behaviours that we all have.

Attitudes arise from our thoughts and belief systems.

Emotions
arise from our thoughts and attitudes, albeit at lightning fast speed.

Belief systems
are stories we use to justify our attitudes, desires and behaviours.

Desires
result from our thoughts, attitudes and beliefs.

We behave in the ways we do as a result of our thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and desires.

This may be hard to believe, but we hardly hear even one tenth of our thoughts. The simple exercise below will help to dip your toe into the deep waters of your thoughts.



What do you think?

Review the following self-assessment list. If three or more apply, then your spiritual diet may be placing your physical health at risk:

  • I want/need everyone to like me
  • I pretend to be happy but I really am not / I cry easily but I'm not sure why
  • I blame others if things do not go my way
  • I give up if things do not work right the first time
  • I am always in pain
  • I have a hard time falling asleep and it is even harder to get up in the morning
  • I fall asleep fast but wake up after a couple of hours and cannot get back to sleep
  • I hate me and I hate my life and I’m pretty sure that God hates me too

Now this is the starting point, the doorway into learning how our thoughts affect our lives. Behind each statement, there is a story. Take for example the first: “I want/need everyone to like me”. In order to change our thought patterns, we must bring into conscious focus the backstory. How many times did we go without love, or compassion, or understanding or encouragement, when we most needed it, from the person from whom we most needed it? What conclusions did we reach as we came to realize that we were not loved, not respected, and maybe even invisible? We may have thought “Nobody likes me.” Or “I’m unlovable.” We may also have thought that well, since I was treated this way, it is all right for me to treat others the same way. We may have taken out our pain on a younger sibling, or a pet. We may have manifested eating disorders or self-harming behaviours. We may also have reacted in the opposite way by deciding, “When I grow up, I’ll never treat anyone this way.” Or “When I grow up, I’m going to help people.”



Negative thoughts? Who, me?

Before we can change our negative thoughts, we must acknowledge that we have them. If humanity is ever to take its next evolutionary leap forward, we must first change ourselves; we cannot change ourselves unless and until we change our thoughts.

When I first started walking this spiritual path, I was preparing to go out to meet a friend. As I stood in front of the mirror to put on some makeup, I suddenly began to hear my thoughts. I could not believe my vicious, mean, cruel comments! If someone else had said these things to me, I would be furious, and I would be hurt. Somehow I knew I had been repeating them for years, even though they did not really register, but actually paying attention to my thoughts brought them into my consciousness. This new awareness enabled me to start changing them. Until I knew they were a part of me, I was powerless.

A healthy spiritual diet enables us to feel joy, love and optimism, and to be kind, generous, patient and tolerant - not only with others, but with ourselves. Spiritual malnutrition occurs with chronic negativity, and I was suffering from it. That day I felt just how badly my nearly constant stream of fear, anger, worry, guilt and resentment (literally spiritual junk food!) were hurting me. I saw that my my spiritual diet was preventing me from living well. A poor spiritual diet can also create many of life's negative life experiences such as addictions, chronic pain and chronic diseases, co-dependent relationships, repeated failures and feeling like a victim.

It is all too easy to deny that we have negative thoughts, but it is seldom our intention to have them. They just seem to happen, almost like a reflex. (Just try watching television for two minutes without judging or criticising someone.) It is not that we are bad for having negative thoughts; rather, it is up to us to recognize and change them. Our thoughts, positive or negative, are the great equalizer. We all have them - no matter who we are, or where we live, or what we do for a living. Our thoughts drive our every action or inaction, so if humanity is ever to take its next evolutionary leap, we must first change ourselves; we cannot change ourselves unless and until we change our thoughts. If we fail to pay attention to our negative thoughts, we can end up feeling like a victim of life. Here are some common phrases and the negative thought pattern they express:

Table 01: This phrase is this thought pattern

This phrase... is this thought pattern...
I’m mad at you so I’m not talking to you............................. Abandonment
It’s ok if I break the rules. Rules are for everybody else....Arrogance
It’s good, except.................................................................. Criticism
I don’t want or need this, but I’m keeping it anyway.......... Greed
It has to be done this way, my way, the right way............. Perfectionism
I hate you and I will never forgive you................................ Resentment
I will make you pay for hurting me...................................... Revenge

Steps in becoming spiritually aware

In large part, we are who we are because of our reactions to, or our thoughts about, our early childhood experiences. Paying attention to our thoughts and acknowledging that we, ourselves, really do have negative thoughts enables us to change them. Resolving the inner conflicts resulting from our experiences is done through introspection and meditation. Resolution brings inner peace. Being at peace frees us to make wiser choices about our lives, enabling profound change. That’s it. That’s the process.

Figure 05: Steps in becoming spiritually aware

Figure 05: Steps in becoming spiritually aware

Spiritual decluttering (cleaning up our thoughts)

Resolve, Refine, Reduce
Spiritual decluttering is the process of cleaning up our chaotic thoughts. Resolving inner conflicts, refining our understanding of our thoughts and finally, reducing our thoughts, enables us to feel better, to pay better attention to ourselves, and to better hear our guide.

Figure 06: Spiritual decluttering: Resolve, reduce and refine the thoughts

Figure 06: Spiritual decluttering: Resolve, reduce and refine the thoughts

Resolve inner conflicts

Inner conflicts keep us stuck. They create negative behavioural patterns and generally prevent us from being able to live life well. Such conflicts result from having core patterns and generally prevent us from being able to live life well. Such conflicts result from having core beliefs that are not based in truth. We cling to the childhood beliefs that were taught to us by our authority figures, or that we developed on our own in the absence of input from our caregivers. Once we have them though, changing them can seem next to impossible.

Let’s say a child suffers abuse by a sibling. The child tells their caregiver that the sibling "hates me" but the caregiver says, "Don't be ridiculous. Your sibling loves you." The child knows this to be false, yet feels compelled to believe the caregiver. An inner conflict results and a belief system forms that says "Love hurts" / "I am not worthy" / “My feelings cannot be trusted”. The child grows up craving loving relationships yet is continually drawn to abusive people. The conflict resolves upon accepting a newer truth - universal truth- through communicating with your guide. The new Truth says, “I can trust my feelings. I can trust myself.”

In fact, sibling abuse does not arise out of "love". Abusive behaviour arises from fear, anger, resentment and other negative thoughts. Of course parents do not think that any of their children could harm a sibling, so the child is taught to believe that their sibling is just playing, and that she or he is not seriously trying to harm them. The child knows better, but learns instead to not trust her or himself. Resolving inner conflicts is also known as inner child work.

Refine your thoughts

Refining the thoughts means understanding at ever-deeper levels just what a particular thought pattern sounds like, so that it can be gradually eliminated. For example, judgment can take many forms:

  • You see someone eating. Based on the time of day, you 'decide' that they are obviously eating their breakfast. There are other options though. The person may have worked a late shift and this is supper for them. The person may have a disease that requires them to eat several times per day, and this may be their third, fourth or even fifth meal of the day so far. The fact is that we cannot possibly know, unless we ask them directly. To assume that we know is judgment.
  • You look at this same person and decide that they should not be eating because they are overweight, or that they should be eating more because they are too thin. To assume that we know what their diet should be; to assume that we know what their correct weight should be, to assume that we know what is best for them is to assume that we know which spiritual lessons are being presented for them in this particular lifetime; these are all matters of judgment.
  • You look at this same person and decide, based solely on their physical appearance, that they are not worthy of your respect, or of enjoying life, or of receiving God's unconditional love. Now suppose that the person you just judged is yourself. Do you think that your words do not impair your self-esteem?

How many times in a day do you make such judgments? You might be surprised. Negative thoughts like judgment, criticism and condemnation are refined by paying attention to the physical signals that your guide gives you, and by gaining understanding of the signals in meditation. What we consider to be judgment and what our guides consider to be judgment are quite different, and that is the reason that signals are given. They remind us to pay attention to our thoughts.

Reduce your thoughts

Have you any idea how much time we spend worrying about things over which we have utterly no control? Or how often our thoughts return to past events and rehash them, searching, wishing somehow for a different outcome? The refinement process enables us to gradually reduce the number of thoughts we have. The fewer thoughts we have, the more we are able to simply be in observation mode and achieve the overview effect, bringing order from the chaos of our thoughts.

Food for thought
Our capacity for change is limited if we believe that that we do not need to change.

Next steps

Learn how to change our automatic responses (Section 2) and learn to meditate (Section 3). With these actions, we gain resolution of inner child issues and healthy self-esteem. Our lives gain new meaning and our spiritual awareness increases. Pain from the past seems to magically disappear, not because we are ignoring it or medicating it, but because we are dealing with it.

Self-test

1. What are the five components of our spiritual diet?

Click here for answers

Thoughts, attitudes, emotions, belief systems, and desires.





2. What are the steps in becoming spiritually aware?

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  • Pay attention to our thoughts.
  • Acknowledge the negative ones.
  • Meditate to learn their root cause(s).
  • Resolve the issues causing them.






3. What thoughts, attitudes and/or emotions are expressed by the following statements:
  • I'm mad at you so I'm not talking to you
  • It's ok if I break the rules. Rules are for everybody else
  • It's good, except ...
  • I don't want or need this, but I'm keeping it anyway
  • It has to be done this way, my way, the right way
  • I hate you and I will never forgive you
  • I will make you pay for hurting me
  • At least I'm not like that person

Click here for answers

  • I'm mad at you so I'm not talking to you - Abandonment
  • It's ok if I break the rules. Rules are for everybody else - Arrogance
  • It's good, except ... - Criticism
  • I don't want or need this, but I'm keeping it anyway - Greed
  • It has to be done this way, my way, the right way - Perfectionism
  • I hate you and I will never forgive you - Resentment
  • I will make you pay for hurting me - Revenge
  • At least I'm not like that person - Self-righteousness





4. Define each of the following:
  • Thoughts
  • Attitudes
  • Emotions
  • Belief systems
  • Desires
  • Behaviours

Click here for answers

  • Thoughts: Ideas formed into language, using either words, images or symbols
  • Attitudes: Products of Thoughts
  • Emotions: Products of Thoughts and Attitudes
  • Beliefs: Stories to justify Desires and Behaviours
  • Desires: Products of Thoughts, Attitudes and Beliefs
  • Behaviours: Products of Thoughts, Attitudes, Beliefs and Desires

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© Copyright: Sheila A. McBeath 1999-2022  
All Rights Reserved     ISBN  978-1-7753521-2-9
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