Late last week a friend made a negative comment about how I was handling something at work. Initially the feeling was he was right and I was not managing properly. What I heard irritated me and I cut short the phone conversation. From the spark of a though I got from him my mind began adding more non-flattering commenting of its own. This continued until I was feeling pretty rotten. I doubted myself and my ability.
After having my friend’s thought kick around in my head for several days, I concluded he had an incorrect view of things. Yet, for at least two days I was beating myself up and coming around to his way of thinking although I really did not agree. To make it worse, I was piling on a bunch of my own negative thinking to what was said. Combined, it all left me feeling lousy.
While not always well-practiced, I learned a while ago that my world without is but a reflection of my world within. My thoughts create the conditions my mind imagines. Had I continued to accept what was said to me, I would have been misleading myself down a false path. Realizing I had started doing just that walk was a wakeup call to remember to use something I know about call “superb disputing”.
“Superb disputing” is a skill that everyone has, but is more apt to use when OTHERS accuse us wrongly. Like any other skill, it is keenest when used regularly. When not well-practiced, the skill can take a while to kick in as it just recently did with me.
“Supurb Disputing “is an effective tool for inwardly sorting out my own thinking. All I need to do is remind myself that I have a lot of control over what I think. From experience I know I can sort my thoughts into ones worthy of further attention and the ones that are garbage and proceed accordingly. I just have to not forget I know how to do this.
For example, I know if a friend tells me I am a lousy employee or bad father I can marshal evidence against the accusation and fire it back at him or her if I choose. What is most important is that I know, even if I never speak a word of that knowledge to anyone else.
How well I remember the days when I was almost completely lost in my thinking. I believed my thoughts were “me”. It was not that long ago when I made all sorts of negative accusations to myself, about myself many times a day. Things were common like being headed into a party thinking “I have nothing to say. Now one is going to like me. Or I look terrible”…and so on.
When negative accusations came from inside me, once upon a time I treated them mostly as if they were absolute truth. It took a long time and consist work to realize the automatic pessimistic thoughts I had about myself were just as irrational as the ravings of a jealous rival or a well intended, but mistaken friend.
I had to learn that unconstructive thoughts about my self do not necessarily originate in hard fact and often come from criticisms from my past. Sometime from ones made by a parent in anger, abuse from others, a mean teacher, mocking from other kids and all sorts of life experiences, all absorbed passively. My thoughts are frequently only my conditioned responses learned previously, mostly while growing up.
With just a little discipline I can be a “superb disputer” of these untrue thoughts about myself. When I look closely I often realize much of what I think about myself is utter BS and nonsense. The process of “disputing” helps me to stop paying attention to that type of thought. I know I can not completely stop my mind from thinking what it will, but whether I pay lots of attention or little attention to those mental ramblings is my choice.
Frequently I do get good and accurate input from friends and appreciate their caring very much. However, they are not always right. Right or wrong, today I am thankful for what my friend said. It was a catalyst for a reawakening of a life skill . This morning there is much gratitude for the wake-up call and being reminded to dust off my ability as a “superb disputer”.
Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt. William Shakespeare