The power of starting small

I notice that there are lessons for me that keep coming back. Sometimes I get it the first time and when the lesson comes back I understand it in a different way. Other times I either don’t get it or understand it mentally but I don’t “get it”. In other words,  I understand the lesson (I get the logic) but I can’t wrap my soul/heart/core understanding around it. I don’t know how to integrate it or what to do with the new knowledge. In that case, the lesson keeps coming back to me over and over in different forms and if I am given the opportunity, I question it wanting to really “get it”.

It’s taken me this long to finally “get it” that this experience I’m on is going to take a while. Up to now I’ve been feeling anxiety, stress, depression, and plain old hatred in not knowing where my life went. I have no motivation or inspiration for a career path in my life. What used to fill me with joy and passion no longer does.

Late Wednesday night it finally clicked that there is nothing I can do that will take away the pain and suddenly make me happy, motivated, and inspired. That my life isn’t going to suddenly become everything I want it to be. Why? because I’m in process of unlearning and re-learning.

Earlier that day I was listening to Vinny Ferraro’s Heavy Metta talk. I’ve heard this talk several times, but this time I really heard the message of starting small. I really took in the message that in working with forgiving others and self, don’t start with big stuff. Don’t start with my family, past partners, people who hurt or betrayed me. Don’t start with me choosing certain partners or the big life decision that didn’t play out well. Instead start with the guy who cut me off as I drove to work, or me not going to the gym that morning. This new compassion/forgiving muscle I have is just being used after 38 years of not being used. As it/I get stronger then I can move onto bigger stuff. As long as I keep practicing, I’ll get there, it will happen.

Later than night I was watching/listening to Rev. Deborah L. Johnson’s talk titled “Don’t Believe Everything You Think”. I find her very inspirational despite me not being a religious person and still trying to understand my concept of a Higher Power. Her delivery is very open and accepting, and I find it so refreshing. In this particular talk there are so many lessons. So many points that I can’t possibly sum it up in a short manner in this post. I’m sure I will listen to it again and get a new lesson each time.

In this one, she starts by saying “We are not responsible for the thoughts that come to us, only the ones that we keep.” That resonated with me deep. It’s the lesson that I first heard so many years ago but didn’t know how to integrate it in my life. It’s the lesson I get from the Dharma talks after Sunday meditation, It’s the lesson me and my therapist (past and present) have been working on for years. And now, it finally began to break open a little more. I began to “get it” a little more. “I am not responsible for the thoughts that come to me” translated to, “I am not responsible for the false identity my family gave to me”.

She then went on to talk about forgiveness, acceptance, and accepting not knowing it all. She mentions how there is so much to know that (and I’m paraphrasing here) “you can never know it all and we should stop wanting to know it all and stop feeling like a failure for not knowing it all.”  When she said that, I felt a huge burden lifted off my shoulders.

Although I knew that I have been beating myself up for my “wrong” choices, I finally realized that I was also beating myself up for not knowing it all because I believed that I should know it all. Glad I could begin to let that one go.

She also says “Don’t keep affirming what you don’t know because the universe only says yes”. In other words, “If you’re not asking the right questions you can’t see the answers”. I recognized this as the whole “law of attraction” lesson that I still don’t have faith in.

You see, when I first learned about this, I was always trying to shift my thinking dramatically. I would catch my negative thoughts and do the opposite and think a positive thoughts instead. “I am so gross” became “I am beautiful” but everytime I did that, it felt wrong. I understood that it felt wrong because I wasn’t used to it, so I would keep trying to catch my negative thinking and replacing it with positive thinking. As I’ve mentioned before, when I would do this, I would get exhausted and then feel the floor fall out from under me and fall into a depression. It was too much.

But when I heard Rev. Deborah say “don’t affirm what you don’t know…don’t believe everything you think…We are not responsible for the thoughts that come to us, only the ones that we keep.” and recalled Vinny’s suggestion to start will small issues, I finally was given the missing piece to the lesson. Start small and be patient. those big negative, long and deeply embedded thoughts will become reversed overtime as long as keep working on the small issues first.

My therapist would say that I’m understanding the lessons because I’m ready to. That some things have settled enough for me to be receptive and understand new information. I believe this to be true and it gives me comfort that as I continue on this journey, and as things settle, I will “get it” more often.

Another thing that I have lingering is that when I get an epiphany like this, I notice that feel a sense of peace and balance. Then after a few hours or days I fall into a depression. My therapist says that this is probably due to my mind not being comfortable with the new information/awareness and that it’s common to subconsciously go back to what is familiar. I am keeping this in mind as I’m feeling some sense of balance right now. I’ve already noticed my tendency to want to go to those “big issues” and sometimes I catch it and tell myself “not now” (much like in meditation). I’m a little nervous and a little relieved.

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