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The Trap of the Absolute Mind
|Posted on June 29, 2015 at 7:00 PM|
THE TRAP OF THE ABSOLUTE MIND
I never, you should never, no one should ever . . .
I always, you should always, everyone should always . . .
I know, you should know, everyone should know . . .
Traps come in many different forms. Once our minds say ‘never!’ or “I know!” we close ourselves off from doing things differently, from growing in experience and consciousness.
Yes, there are things that make sense to say no to, like murder or torture, child abuse, etc. But even these things have found exception in history. Our human instincts demand action in self defense, or defense of family, sometimes even against children. The highly enlightened ones among us might well lay down in the face of death or abuse, believing that they are safe in God’s world, come what may; but very few can set aside basic instinct in such a fashion. Also, these are extreme conditions which most of us are unlikely to face.
My topic is about the more mundane absolutes we face every day. Everyone should brush their teeth three times a day! Everyone should wear clean underwear! Everyone should eat fresh vegetables every day! If they would just stop doing it they would get better! If they would just do this, or that, they would be fine!
It’s this right and wrong polarity that brings us dis-comfort and dis-ease. During my career as a healer and massage therapist, I found that the people who had the least amount of pain and disease were the ones who followed a live and let live philosophy. The ones who were full of shoulds and shouldn’ts; resentments about what other people had done, regrets about the past, etc, were full of arthritis, had trouble sleeping, were at odds with old friends and were often times not speaking to family members that they loved. Their inflexible negativity was making them sick.
I remember once when I said something negative about a branch of my husband’s family and my mother in-law said “they’re just different”. It was like a light bulb lit up in a dark corner of my mind. Almost thirty years later I still have to correct my thinking and tell myself ‘they’re just different’ when I rush to judgment about people.
What if there were only one kind of flower, one kind of tree. What if everyone looked exactly the same, dressed the same and ate the same food, used the same language. What if we only saw what pleased us, what computed to ‘right’ in our minds and couldn’t see the rest. How would we ever change and grow? How would we know what we didn’t want in our lives, or who we didn’t want to be? If we always said no to certain types of people or situations, how would we learn about other cultures and open our consciousness to the whole world around us?
My mother used to say “coulda, shoulda, woulda” and I knew it was her way of saying ‘stop complaining, you did this to yourself’. Not much emotional support, but there is a whole lot of truth to that statement. The trick is to learn from the couldas, not beat yourself up over them.
Instead of using the absolutes that bring guilt and shame, we can use our past experience as a tool for growth and change. We can choose not to act on our first thought and think a second thought, or a third thought, that might give us a better result. When we think “I can’t believe I did that again!” we could re-think, “I guess I still have more work to do to change that behavior!” or “That didn’t work out the way I had hoped; next time I’ll try it another way.” Mistakes are human and we usually have ample opportunity to do things differently. The important thing is to stay neutral about our mistakes and be open to another way. EVERYONE makes mistakes whether they admit to them or not. If we stay in absolute thinking, our mistakes will stop us from trying again. There are many ways to learn and communicate and many different methods to get things done. How else could we have survived this long?
In closing I’d like to say that absolute thinking is one of my learning edges. Why else would I write this? So true the saying ‘if you spot it, you got it!’ A year from now I might have different views about mental absolutes and new methods to change them. As long as I keep judgments neutral, and rethink my negative thoughts, I will continue to learn and grow, and so can you!