This week is a different What I’ve Learned. You see, what you’re supposed to be reading is Week 28. That week is written, sitting in a Word document, waiting on me to publish it. It’s too raw and there might even be some meanness in there. Let me rephrase that, I know there is meanness. So I’m doing the best thing I can do:
I’m not clicking publish.
When writing something as deeply personal as I do on What I’ve Learned, it’s from a place deep inside me that few people see. I expose myself to the world in raw, unedited form. If there is one thing I’ve learned from many years of experience is that it’s often best to:
- Not send that text
- Not post that Facebook status
- Not Tweet that thought
- Not make that phone call
- Not voice that opinion
- Not react in a swift manner
But most of all, I’ve learned to:
- Bite my tongue
What a difficult lesson. In our formative years, we hear parents repeat, over and over, to watch what we say and to think of other people’s feelings. In this day of easy, fast communication, it’s all too often that we act first, think later. In fact, that seems to be the norm for most due to easy access to social media, but that’s a different post for a different time.
I’m guilty of all of the above. After all, my mother has always told me I’d argue with a stop sign about my right to not stop and I’d win.
The great Marcus Aurelius said, “The soul becomes dyed with the colors of its thoughts.” If that’s true, the tendency to speak what is on my mind so quick and fierce has affected all of the other thoughts I have.
I prefer to treat my thoughts like a tough cut of meat. I let them sit in a bowl and marinate with all of the other thoughts. They’re tenderizing. Oh, I still have some of the same thoughts, don’t get me wrong, but I choose not to express them. Those thoughts are still there, but I’m just opting to manage them with tools I’ve used for decades.
“All thoughts, secret or spoken, belong in a coffee table book written in Braille, so you can really feel the emotions.”
― Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not FOR SALE
People who deal with depression tend to confuse thoughts and emotions. This is something I work on in my over my two-decade meditation practice. A practice that has become much more intense. When I practice mindfulness, there is a clear distinction between thought (verbalization of the mind) and emotion (what I’m feeling in my body). Emotions give rise to thoughts. Thoughts give rise to emotions. I work to change my thoughts, thereby changing my emotions.
The post that’s not here today is a highly charged, emotional piece. One I wrote off-the-cuff, with little thought, fraught with emotion. That is not who I want to be. As I walk through this journey called life, I want people to remember me with kindness. Those harsh, painful words will color their perception of me for the rest of their lives, even when mine is long over.
“There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can choose how I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life-whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert
I can honestly say, that for the first time in many, many weeks, I feel peace. When I started writing this, I was an emotional mess, crying, and off-balance. I’m reminding myself of who I choose to be and have to remember that the best thing I can do is listen to my inner thoughts. My emotions will work themselves out.