Know the Power of Your Words and Thoughts
By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
The term “pain and suffering” is most often heard in legal context: Pain refers to the initial discomfort while suffering is the extended anguish. Understanding the source of psychological suffering is intriguing. Learning how to alleviate it will enhance your quality of life.
Best selling author Caroline Myss explains that while pain is something that happens to you, suffering is a choice. When life brings challenges that are neither welcome nor appreciated, you respond with emotions like anger, sorrow, hurt, resentment, jealousy or rage. The length of time that this continues and your subsequent response determine if you will experience only the pain, or suffering as well.
Myss recommends that, except for extreme situations such as loss, you should avoid telling your story more than three times. After three times the story begins to own and define you, influencing your long-time mood, feelings and your definition of self.
The words you use aloud and in thought have power. In The Hidden Messages in Water, Masaru Emoto uses photos to demonstrate how words like love and peace written on a glass container filled with water, create beautiful crystalline structures when these water molecules are looked at through a microscope. Conversely, words like hatred and war appear chaotic and unpleasant.
Monitor the words used in your internal dialogues. Are they kind, compassionate and supportive; or are they judgmental, angry and hurtful? How often do you believe that there isn’t enough, leading you to compare, separate from others and experience fear? The mind believes that lack and fear are the essence of living. Lack and fear bring suffering, while abundance and love produce peace.
Learning to control your inner dialogue can significantly decrease the severity and duration of your suffering. Like most people you probably value your mind and believe that thinking will rid you of your worries. When there is a real or perceived threat, your mind attempts to control the outcome – regardless as to whether it is in the past, present or future. But rather than developing a plan for you to act on, your mind generally brings only repetitive worrisome thoughts. Therefore, the thinking mind is rarely the source for peace. Deepak Chopra and Albert Einstein have both been credited for reminding us that no problem can be solved at the level of consciousness at which it was created. So get out of your head!
Let’s take an honest inventory of your internal dialogue. To avoid suffering look for the following cues:
- Do I need to know why things happen?
- Do I think that things happen to me?
- Do I create a scenario in my mind that is even worse than the original event?
- Do I have a tendency to judge myself negatively?
- Do I tend to judge others and see fault?
- Do I replay the event over and over in my mind, thereby feeling the emotions over and over?
Imagine the following alternatives to the above:
- Needing to know is an illusion of being in control.
- Sometimes things happen; they are not done to me.
- I will avoid my scary thinking; the event was tough enough.
- I recognize and accept my imperfections; I acknowledge those aspects that represent my greatness.
I know that others are doing the best that they can. They are the outcome of their own wounds and experiences. Still, I don’t have to like their actions.
Avoid replaying the event over and over; it is done.
Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, an authority on trauma, says, “What most people do not realize is that trauma is not the story of something awful that happened in the past, but the residue of imprints left behind.” Check for imprints. Seek support if required.
Thoughts and feelings are much like waves – if you can’t stop them, you can choose which ones to surf. Author Eckhart Tolle advises us to surrender and yield to the flow of life. Respond like water: flow with ease around the boulder that is in the river rather than seeing the obstacle as something that must be bashed into submission or fought at every turn. Avoid reacting to the obstacles of life; this brings suffering. Instead, surrender and find peace.
Which thoughts are you following in your mind? Where do you put your attention? Did you even realize that you could choose? Freedom comes initially with the realization that you have a choice. Choose abundance, ease, flow, love and acceptance; minimize your suffering.
Judy Lipson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and educational strategist in West Bloomfield. She helps clients of all ages who have learning difficulties; work or school related anxiety; ADHD; Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorders; and those who wish to Remember and Become Who You Really Are. Contact Judy at 248.568.8665 and firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www. SpiralWisdom.net for more information.