The Buddha famously taught “With our thoughts we make the world.” True wisdom begins when we recognize the extent to which we are a captive audience to the voice inside our head. It is this inner reality and the often invisible relationship we have with ourselves that literally creates our lives. More surprising – and perhaps more subtle – is how this world inside our head also acts as a filter for everything we perceive outside of us. In short, the world happening around us becomes what we tell ourselves it is.
Seeing What’s Real in Our Own Lives
For many, their interior world is dominated by repeating negative thought patterns that are as familiar as one’s own name. Repeating at such fast intervals they take on a truth they don’t deserve and color not only our thoughts of self, but everyone around us as well. Spun into narratives about how the world is, we live inside of story lines that often are only happening in our head.
Coupled with this, most of us never develop the skills to quiet our mind long enough to be able to distinguish and listen for the other voice inside of us; it takes practice to become still enough to hear the quiet voice of self acceptance that resides in our hearts. When we begin to recognize that there is another kinder, more accurate interpreter of our lives available in us, we begin to seeing the world as it actually is.
It is courageous and loving work to pay attention to both the content of our thoughts and where they are coming from.
As we begin to notice the repetitive ruminations of the ego monkey mind, it gets easier to drop the story lines that can take over your life. Paying attention to our thinking in this way is how we befriend our mind. As we begin to meet our inner critic with a little bit of attention, it settles down, which in turn creates space to listen more deeply to our heart wisdom.
Seeing What’s Real in Our Relationships
Not surprisingly, the same dynamic holds true in our most intimate relationships. We not only create our relationships out of the same thoughts that we use to speak to ourselves but we also perceive them through that lens as well.
So many of our relationships are hurtful because they reflect the pain inside of us. We can’t receive love from others when we can’t receive love from ourselves.
Our relationships act as a mirror of what we believe we deserve.
This explains why so many people move from one relationship to the next, always believing the next relationship will be better. But as different as it may seem at the beginning, the unfolding more often than not brings us back to where we left the previous one.
That is because the real change that needs to happen begins from the inside. Easy at it is to come up with the narrative of what went wrong with another person, we rarely turn our gaze inward to see why we continue to attract relationships that don’t evolve into the love we long for. Another of the Buddha’s teachings which is less well known speaks to the heart of this dilemma: “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
To quiet our critic and open to the voice of acceptance in our own being begins with believing in our own self worth. It is from this vulnerable and unsteady place that we can actually see the world and the people around us as they are.