We Think Our Thinking Is True

“I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.”  (Anne Lamott)

Does this sound like you?

We tend to believe our horrible thoughts while we completely ignore our honorable thoughts.   We give extreme power to the thoughts we do not wish to have.  The horrible thoughts just seem truer somehow.  It’s as if we say, “If it scares me, it must be true.”

Horrible thoughts seem real because they are familiar.  We practice them daily like a child learning how to play scales on the piano.

Thoughts become “realer” through the power of emotion.

We think “I am unworthy,” or some variation on that theme. It feels “bad” to be unworthy.  This feeling “bad” causes an identifiable yet often unconscious physiological reaction.  This reaction anchors the thought in the body. We feel something – so we believe the thought must be true.

Then, when we believe a thought, we see it.   We gather evidence to support our inner environment.  The evidence seems to support our thoughts, whereas in reality, our thoughts support the evidence.  We see what we believe.

We think our thinking is true. 

But what if our thoughts are not necessarily true?

What if the bad thoughts you think about yourself – your perception of inadequacy, failure, unlovable-ness and unworthiness – are simply a learned, rehearsed and falsely realized habit?   

What new thought could you think instead?

Try it and see.  It will feel like lying at first.  But soon, with a little emotion and belief, you’ll see things differently.

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“Thank You, It’s True.”

One of our Practitioners tells a story about a group of Americans who visited Africa.  One of the American women wore a colorful blouse to a shared event.  At the event, an African woman complimented the American woman’s good taste.

The American started a litany of reasons as to why the blouse (and her taste) weren’t up to par.  “It’s old, it’s not the right color for me, I got it at thrift store …”

Like many of us, the recipient of this compliment wanted to list every reason why she didn’t really deserve it.

The giver of the compliment interrupted her and said, “In our culture, when we are given a compliment, we reply by saying, “Thank you, it’s true”….

It may be challenging to receive praise for a blouse, but it’s even more challenging to receive praise for what we do.  Then things get really ugly (and beautiful) when we are asked to receive praise for who we are.

We are so accustomed to focusing on our flaws that we tend to negate our goodness.  Praise makes us squirm like earthworms exposed to the light.  We feel strangely threatened by too much praise.

Maybe we fear the attention or the possible exposure.  Maybe we feel we’ll need to work hard to maintain our praise-worthiness.  Maybe we’re afraid of appearing conceited.  Mostly, I think we believe we don’t deserve praise.

The poet William Blake wrote…”we are put on earth…that we may learn to bear the beams of love….”

Cultivating the ability to receive praise is part of bearing beams of love.  It is our soul’s sacred work here on earth.

How do you feel about receiving praise?  Do you engage in any praise-rejecting behaviors or thoughts?      


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The Power of Praise

Back in the early days of my ministry, I feared public speaking.  Despite the fact that I keep choosing careers that put me in the spotlight, I’ve always been shy.

My insecurity reached new heights when I participated in a large event with multiple speakers.  I finished my “talk” and immediately started comparing myself to others.

I remember thinking, “If only someone would praise me, then I’ll know I was good enough.”

That was a significant moment, because my insecurity led me to a spiritual practice, a practice of grace and abundant reassurance.

I acknowledged my pursuit of external validation.  Then I replaced my need for praise with praising others.  I praised the other speakers and the musicians participating in the same event.  I praised the sound technician.  This cured my compulsive need for approval.  It conquered my insecurity. 

I was fulfilled by the action of giving praise.

The technique of applying praise has infinite applications.  If you feel insecure.  Needy.  Neurotic.  Wanting.  Not enough.  If you compare yourself to others and come up short.  If you question your right to take up space in the world.  Acknowledge your need — then sincerely praise someone else.

If you practice this, you’ll find that praise is a heart-seeking missile.  Giving praise is as good as getting praise.  Praise feels good coming and going.

Who and how will you praise today? 

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