Covenant United Methodist Church

Changing Lives with Jesus

You are here: Home » Faith in Action » Counseling Center

Don’t Believe Everything That You Think (or Act on Everything You Feel!) - Part 2

February 28, 2017

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.

Matthew 13:16

Do you ever pay attention to the eternal dialogue going on inside your mind? Even the simplest of thoughts; “I need to do this”. “I need to do that.” “I forgot to call Mom (my wife, my husband, my brother, etc.).” “I really should work harder at exercising.” “I need to eat better.” Did you ever ask yourself, who is talking to whom?

So, how do we go about creating this narrative of the world in our heads? It does begin with this constant dialogue in our minds. We all know those “voices”, yes, plural, inside our heads. Have you ever wondered why it talks in there? How does it decide what to say and when to say it? How much of what it says is true, if anything? How much is important? And if you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t have any voice inside my head.”- THAT is the voice I’m talking about.

Notice how the voice takes up both sides of the conversation. It doesn’t care which side it takes, just as long as it gets to keep on talking. Why do we tolerate “the voice”? Why do we let it argue with its self? What is it trying to do! It’s spending a whole lot of your energy trying to keep your world view, your reality in place. What is the answer? We can try to think just positive thoughts and that might be on the right track, but that doesn’t really do the trick either. We’re evolutionarily programmed to remember and think more negative thoughts, but we can become more aware, more awake. It seems that we spend so much time trying to keep our version of reality going, because if we don’t we know we will suffer. “Life is Suffering” is a tenant to which many people prescribe. But it doesn’t have to be! It might be painful, but we choose to make it suffering by our “attachment” to our version of reality

So how do we silence the voice! We don’t. We just observe. Some have called it “mindfulness”. Jack Kornfield calls it “loving attention”. We don’t fight it. We don’t embrace it. We can’t win the battle, but we can choose to leave the battlefield. It’s just like when two people are arguing. It’s hard to keep the argument going if one party walks away. So, why do we need to keep our “version of reality intact?” Because we believe that keeps us safe!

Michael Singer in The Untethered Soul writes, “True personal growth is about transcending the part of you that is not okay and needs protection.” Therefore, the first step is “noticing”!

Can we notice or pay attention all the time? Of course not! But we can get better and better at learning when an inner battle has begun and then we can choose to just be an observer. When you come to know the one who watches the voice, then you will come to know one of the great mysteries of creation. Thus, inner peace begins with realizing that this will always be the job of that inner voice, but I don’t have to engage it in either a conversation or an argument.

So what are we to do? Jeffrey Schwartz, M.D. author of You Are Not Your Brain says we need to learn to listen to the “Wise Advocate” within. In other words, we have a choice. It is as if there are two chairs in our heads, the chair for fear and the chair for love (but by love, we’re not just talking about some syrupy, sentimental feeling). We’re really talking about values and core beliefs. What are your core beliefs? Are they consistent with being a loving presence for God, for you and for others? In fact, it must include you. Once you become aware of what those loving values are, one must stay centered in those values, even when the vagaries of life would knock us off our center. Thus, the question becomes, which chair are you going to choose to sit in?

Jesus put it very simply, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” What did he mean by that? Our paraphrase today would be, “Whoever wants to protect his/her view of reality to the point that they build themselves into a prison, will forfeit living, but whoever is willing to “live his/her life, based on the values of love and not fear, will save or find it. A primary goal of pastoral counseling is to teach ourselves how to live out of love and not out of fear. So many of our problems have their root in this simple choice between love and fear (that’s so complicated to live out). This is one thing that “pastoral counselors” bring to therapy that some other counselors don’t have as a resource. Thus, pastoral counseling is not just for when problems occurs in life or stress gets to great, but can be a path to spiritual growth and healing. Contact The Center for Pastoral Counseling of Greater Philadelphia at 610.544.1400 x 308 for help in getting started on a new journey. You just might see the world a little differently!

Dr. Keith Coleman,
Pastoral Counselor

“Family Matters” is a community service presented by The Center for Pastoral Counseling.
For further information call CPC at 610-544-1400, ext. 308.


«-- Return