Thought wrangling is the gathering of individual thoughts and ideas to see what they’re trying to tell you, instead of running away and hiding from them.
This isn’t so much of a podcast roundup as it is a summary of one particular listening session. I’m calling it a podcast roundup because it was my weekly drive day, but instead of listening to several podcast episodes, I decided to play the recording of Cory Muscara’s Masterclass on Working with Thoughts.
I was heading out the door to run some errands, after looking back at least three pages of my journal filled with negativity and self-chastisement. “That is just about enough.” I told myself as I dried my tears and grabbed my keys. That’s when I received the text about the class. I read “how to work with difficult and ruminative thoughts, as well as how to cultivate optimistic, supportive, wholesome thoughts” and clicked “buy” as I walked out the door.
Sometimes things do come into your path right when you need them. The elements of the earth moving into a pattern for the perfect storm.
I have a recurring problem. I’m not my biggest fan. When I look back at my journals, I can see what happens and when, the aftermath of anger and resentment, fear. But how do I find the triggers and avoid them? How do I stop losing my shit at myself?
I knew I’d be out all day and I wouldn’t be able to listen in on the live event, but it was being recorded and I could play it back another day, so paid the $25 and set it aside…for two weeks. Yesterday, I remembered to play it.
Here are my highlight takeaways:
We have a body and a mind. They are partners in this life, and we need to respect each other. If the body is tired, hurting, sick, give it some time to recover without yelling at it.
This is something I know I’m better at today than I have in the past, but I’m still working on it. It goes both ways. Sometimes it’s my body failing my mind, and sometime my mind fails my body. My body says, “I have energy! Let’s do something!” and my mind says, “What’s the freakin’ point? Let’s eat cookies.” My mind says, “We should call a friend and go for a long walk!” and my body says “Yeah, no. I’m tired and my hip hurts.”
What can I do? Compromise and be kind to myself. Sounds crazy but it does work.
Is your life in alignment?
That sounds so cliché. In alignment with what?
Recently I discovered a pattern to my some of my behavior. I tend to want to make people happy. I go with what they want to do or be, and then I’m unhappy, blame it on them for being jerks and making me do whatever, and then slam the door on them. No one made me do anything. They asked if I wanted to, I was afraid to say no, and then all hell broke loose.
I’m not in alignment with who I really am. I’m afraid most of the time that if I really show people who I am, they won’t like me, so I don’t…and then I don’t like me, which is far worse.
The times I get stuck in negative thought loops are when I’m struggling with being “good” instead of “authentic.”
In comes the “thought wrangling.” Negative thoughts could just be an indicator that I’m out of alignment somewhere. What if I heard them out instead of judged myself for having them? Here’s a crazy thought…remember that scene in Legend when Lili is tempted by darkness, the dress, and dances with it? That’s what I imagine acknowledging thoughts to be like.
There it is, that thought, and you’re afraid of it, terrified. It means you screwed up again, or you’re about to. No one can trust you, not even yourself. You’re a mess. So, you run and push it away, but it’s still there trying to tell you something.
Instead, see it, dance with it, get to know it. You don’t have to embrace it as reality, act on it, make any decisions, just because you acknowledge its presence. You’re only dancing, not committing. See what it has to say, allow it some space, and then choose what to do with it.
Terrifying, isn’t it? But powerful.
A thought can keep you from real feeling.
I am terrible at real feelings. Approaching how I feel directly feels so ugly. You should just know what my feelings are without my needing to express them thoughtfully. I’m not sure where I got that idea, but I’m working on changing it. The meditation that Cory led us through in the masterclass helps us practice letting a thought in and not running with it so that we can get closer to the feeling and deal with it.
A perfect example would be the “disagreement” my husband and I had last week. We went to Home Depot. I was in a great mood, feeling a bit crazy and wild with excitement, a little silly, and he was focused on getting the things he needed to finish our entryway remodel. I reached for him to reassure me that it was ok to be a bit childish and he turned to look at baseboards.
I was crushed. The thought, “I’m bad, I’m distracting, I’m not helping,” washed over me and I couldn’t let it go. I left to go look at plants and recover myself. In my head I was thinking I’d go give myself a timeout and behave because he didn’t like me. I found out later that he was completely confused. Those weren’t his thoughts at all. He was just thinking about baseboards. There was a big wall between us for nearly 24 hours because I couldn’t simply face a feeling and express it to find out what was really going on.
What could I have done, knowing what I know now? I could have looked at the thought. “Oh, there’s that thought again. How are you doing self-consciousness?” I could have taken a quick break and then told him that I got my feelings hurt and needed a hug, because in my heart I know he loves the crazy part of me. He just gets hyper-focused, and the world isn’t always about me. I’m still thinking how I could have done things differently.
How was I unaligned at that moment? I was happy and feeling wild, and I assumed that his reaction told me that wasn’t what he wanted from me. I immediately went to change me…right now…quick before he doesn’t like you! Crazy making.
So much to work on and so little time, but really think I’m at the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. A while back, I mentioned Jared Diamond had said their 60’s and 70’s were their best years. I can see why.
The masterclass recording was a little over two hours long, and there are pages of written resources for me to read. I’m making a few meditation notecards to remind me of the practice he introduced at the beginning of the class. I think it was $25 well spent, don’t you?