Whose Thought is it Anyway?

Winter is finally yielding to spring in the New England town I live in. I woke up this morning excited to go outside for a walk to feel the warming air and sunshine on my face. As I walked briskly throughout my neighborhood I was grateful for my life and all my blessings.

As I was breathing in all those good feelings I became aware of some thoughts that began nudging me for attention.  Thoughts like, you’ll never make it as a coach, you’re not good enough, don’t let down your guard, you’ll wind up alone.  The thoughts began to get louder, and pester me like a child wanting candy in the grocery store check out line.  My good feeling was quickly being drowned out. Where did these thoughts come from to threaten my great day?

Our lives and experiences are always being shaped by something. When we are growing up we are influenced by our surroundings, our family, culture etc. and we absorb and make part of us what we hear and experience both positive and negative. We go on and live our lives with these subtle, and sometimes not so subtle messages running in the background.

Many of us live our whole lives listening to the messages with the loudest and most persistent voices, and often these voices can be the ones that represent fear and limitation.

I’d like to share a story from my own life to show how we live with thoughts and pain from outside ourselves.

Early on my path of self-discovery I was curious about Indigenous ceremonies.  I was seeking experiences to deepen my spirituality and connection to the earth. I was also looking for ways to reclaim my wholeness and resolve some of the fear that I had learned to live with.  I became interested in the sweat lodge ceremony because it offers the opportunity for purification and symbolizes the safety and nurturing womb of mother earth.

I accepted an invitation to participate in my first sweat lodge ceremony with a Cherokee elder. I shared that auspicious day with 8 other women.  We spent the day preparing for what was to be a rather intense experience.

When it was time us to enter the lodge, I removed my clothes and crawled on my hands and knees in to this very small, structure made of bent tree limbs covered with tarps and blankets.  Once inside the dark, musty lodge, sitting on the bare, cold ground shoulder-to-shoulder with the other participants I began to feel a bit claustrophobic and nervous.

As the red-hot rocks were brought in to the lodge to create the heat and steam for the ceremony I began saying to myself, ‘I am safe within the womb of the mother, I am safe within the womb of the mother’. I repeated this spontaneous chant over and over as I tried to center and calm myself.

When I heard what I was saying to myself I also became aware of a loud voice churning up from the depth of my being that shouted, “No, you are NOT safe in the womb of your mother!”

A flood of memories suddenly washed over me and I remembered my own birth story that my mother told me. She shared that she was terrified when she was giving birth to me, and the medication she received in labor intensified her fear and emotional pain.

As if struck by lightening I realized that the fear I was experiencing in the lodge and in most of my life was not my fear at all. It was my mothers fear. I learned to take on my mothers fear as if it were my own. I also became aware of a bigger part of me that isn’t afraid at all and feels quite confident and at ease in the world.

As I later processed what I had created in that sweat lodge I embraced this very profound and life changing lesson.

Here are 4 questions to discover if your life is being shaped by thoughts and feelings that limit your wholeness and expression of who you truly are.

  1. Are your thoughts often fearful and based in the need to survive?
  2. Do you sometimes feel unfulfilled and unsatisfied?
  3. Do you often say to yourself or others “that’s just the way I am”?
  4. Do you eventually default back to limiting thinking even when things are going well?

What would your life be like if you learned to embrace those loud, limiting voices, yet not be controlled by them? What if you chose to listen and respond to your true voice instead? Your life would be more relaxed, more in the flow. You might finally live your dreams and feel the fulfillment and deep satisfaction that is possible when you are living true to who you are. You could walk in the sunshine and count your blessings in peace.

It’s your life . . . imagine the possibilities!

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