Thought Baggage and Stinking Thinking
Stinking–Thinking happens below the surface subconsciously in our repertoire of food for thought-baggage, which pops up at any unsuspecting time to play mind games with us. And if left unchallenged, they maneuver their way into our minds to confirm the little stories that we have identified ourselves with over the years. If unchecked, they may make us feel like we are worthless, undeserving, confused, depressed, or indecisive, etc…. They steal our joy and rob us of health and vitality.
When we learn to discipline our mind and to strengthen neurological pathways in the brain, from primal reacting to conscious responding, we no longer feel at the mercy of our own negative thoughts. When we can let go of old thinking patterns and challenge the mean things we say to ourselves, we will become calmer, have less anxiety and depression. We will be able to go after what we want in life. We can do this without the roadblocks we set onto our own path. When our minds are clear of old stories, we can also effectively communicate with others because we are calm inside and don’t have a bunch of monkey brains swinging around in our heads, playing havoc with how we view others in the world.
One of the techniques of rendering thought-baggage full of stinking-thinking to be irrelevant, is to learn how to disarm the anxious thoughts that we feel we have no control over. Then we will learn not to believe every single crazy blaming, shaming, and guilt-beating thought we project and judge ourselves by. This ends the unnecessary suffering.
There are many different ways that our stinking-thinking lies to us to make situations out to be worse than they really are. In the old days we called it “making mountains out of molehills.” (I just dated myself)
I intend to present each of these different ways everyday. Once I have done that, I will tell you how to disarm those thoughts so you can have a serene and calmer life. You will also be able to find this information as it comes together, on our website at lifeorigami.com
I don’t remember the exact day but I do remember very clearly one day having a sudden awareness, that I was not “my thoughts“ and that was simultaneously disturbing and liberating. There was a sudden awareness that all the blame, shame, guilt and anger I had suffered was not me. Liberating and confusing. Then a second awareness rushed forward, “If those thoughts aren’t mine, who the hell is chattering all those thoughts?” It was the beginning of a long journey to awareness. I began to get a thought baggage education.
There are many different ways that our thoughts lie to us to make situations out to be worse than they really are. The following is my first example.
1. “Absolute totalitarian” stinking thinking.
This is when we think in words like “black and white, night and day, always, never, no one, every one, every time, everything, on every occasion, invariably, without fail, without exception, inevitably, 100% absolute or sure, incessantly, adamant, totally”. If we have a tendency think something is always good or bad, then we feel down and its hard to assert our own boundaries and maintain our own autonomy. If our mindset is so that we think there is only black and white, horrible or perfect, it clouds the way we see ourselves and our place within the world. Our beliefs and values are weighed down with “always” thinking. We are hard on ourselves and everyone else because things aren’t as they “should” be. We can’t give ourselves a break and allow ourselves to be part of the human race.
When we are dealing with someone else also, who is a totalitarian, and we lean towards co-dependent and dependent relationships, dealing with this can make it difficult to assert our own boundaries and maintain our own autonomy. We then feel like a casualty, which exposes our minds to making it personal. Then, we begin to think “absolute” stinking thinking is normal.
If we believe that something always happens a certain way, without fail, then we will continue to. While we do this, we are taking away our own personal power to try something different another way or to learn something new. We surrender from attempting something new because we feel some shadow from the black lagoon is lurking and waiting to pounce on us when we aren’t expecting it. Its when we think that no matter what we do, some force is holding us down or out to get us. We may say, “so why bother? Damned if I try because ‘inevitable’ will sabotage all my efforts!” This affects our motivation, drive and will to experience that which we want to. It keeps us procrastinating and ambivalent, complacent and indecisive. And we don’t behave in a way that will get us towards experiencing what we want. Its like we pronounce ourselves chained to a “doom and gloom” bomb that keeps us from thriving. And so we just live in survival mode. Living in a rut and auto pilot.
I was reading some notes I made in 2011 when I was quite upset about my divorce and how hard it went down. I wrote quite a few things exhibiting absolute thinking.
Here is 3 of them.
1. Nobody cares about me and will be there to catch me when I fall, or help me or support me.
2. I can’t go it alone. But I am alone and I will always be. I will die alone.
3. Everyone is out to get others and they will kick you when you are down.
I wrote down 64 absolute sentences and only one of them was positive. It was, “I want to figure out how to get a new life without all of these problems. But I’m too sick right now. Maybe I can get help. I’ll talk to my doctor tomorrow.”
I believed at the time that just because my world had fallen apart in some big ways, that all of it had come down and that nobody else in the world had ever been in this situation as difficult as mine. I thought all my friends would leave me. I thought there was no hope for something better and that things had more potential now that I was out of the abuse. It didn’t occur to me that I may make new friends and maybe even learn to love again. As well, I didn’t think it was possible for a person to live alone and feel complete so that they aren’t lonely. I was sitting around for someone else to make my life happen for me.
I always say “Don’t wait for someone else to bring you flowers, you have to go out and plant your own garden”.
To say one will die alone is fortune telling. It may be so and it may not be. But if a person lives a life that feels meaningful and significant, what is the possibility that we will die alone, if we have ourselves? And friends come and go as we all change and move on to other things, but as long as we are willing to be a friend, we can have friends. And there may be some narcissists who kick us when we are down, because they have issues too large to discuss now. The world doesn’t evolve around the machinations of dysfunctional people. There are awesome people all around waiting to be our friends. We just have to be willing and open to accepting who they are without all the stinking thinking.
And – its amazing who comes out of the woodwork when we are sick and need help. In my case it was the community because I was so sad, I went to a counselor at a clinic. My neighbours, who I hardly knew, found out I was ill and would come offer to help me take care of my needs in any way they were able to. My pharmacist came and took out my garbage and brought my meds to me. He brought me a wheel chair after the wind storm when I got hurt. He helped me to collect my old medication sitting around the house. And he stuck around, after bringing me medication, for a visit one time when I was really sad. It made such a huge difference in my life, he probably doesn’t even know that. He was just being the fantastic person he is. So many kind and caring people are out there for us to explore, and absolute thinking will only hold us back from finding the positive people in our lives.
When we stay stuck in always thinking, we stay with toxic people who hold us back from thriving. So focus on being somewhere between your “should” list and your “shouldn’t” lists. And give yourself a break. One of my favourite affirmations I replaced the doubtful thought “I’m stupid, I wish I were dead” with, is “I am at peace, calm, and relaxed. Day by day in every way, I am getting better and better.” I like this affirmation because it doesn’t say I have to heal cold turkey into some monk living perfectly in “the now”. I can try to focus on being kind to myself day by day, and slowly I will feel better.
2. Pessimistic Stinking Thinking
This is a mental attitude where a person expects a negative outcome from a circumstance. This also can be a pattern where we only see the bad in a situation compared to the good. Our experiences are usually a mix of both positive and negative. A pessimistic person generally can take one negative element and blow it out of proportion. Focusing on negatives can make us feel bad and focusing on the positives usually makes us feel better.
However, glossing over the negative stuff and engaging in “rah rah” pep rally’s is only a bandaid or cover up. It doesn’t get to the root of a sad or negative feeling. But when we think negative thoughts all the time, we seem to get more of what makes us feel crumby. Its because we have this part of the brain called the reticular activating system where when we notice something and label it bad, we seem to become alert to more of that stuff we don’t want. And then it feels like the clouds are pooping in our cornflakes every morning.
There is loads of research into the brain and some interesting information has been acquired, over the years, about the middle of the brain called the Amygdala. It is the primitive part of the brain where information can be processed at lightning speed without our even being aware, and then we react and get into so many messy situations. A person can train the brain to use this center less often and consciously use other parts of the brain to be able to slow down, think things through, make observations, examine them, challenge or verify assumptions, ask questions, and then respond with a reasonable decision. The brain has so many neural pathways and connections that are like highways connecting all parts of the brain so that it can all work together nicely. Each part of the brain interacting with the other to make an intelligent human being. And when something isn’t working as well in one part of the brain, the brain has the ability to create new circuits to get around that region, creatively. So when we think negative thoughts, the bodies chemistry changes and so many stimuli come into the brain physiologically and psychologically. And the more certain pathways in various parts of the brain (responsible for some part of our individuality or processes) are fired, there are actually enzymes and other metabolic reactions that occur between the brain and organs of the body. They get caught in this loop of each organ responding to the other, and eventually mayhem can result or the other way, a positive biofeedback system. So when cells in a region of the brain are always firing, the body chemistry affects the DNA so that it ultimately produces more of the same neural pathways in the same part of the brain by generating more of those cell types. In human being language, that means the brain makes more connections biologically in the area of the brain, that is being stimulated.
What happens is those areas of the brain have higher firing and connections, so that part of the brain is literally firing exponentially. So that’s when we get more of what we have been putting into that part of the brain. So lets use an example. Lets say we like to go to concerts on week-ends that are really loud. And after awhile we seem to become hyper vigilant when someone criticizes us. That’s because stress to the body and brain happens with both instances, and each reaffirms the same pathways to give us the same reaction. Maybe its anger, maybe its forgetfulness. Either way, what we feed our brain is what we get more of – literally. That science is called the Neuroplasticity of the Brain.
When we keep thinking negative things and have a pessimistic outlook on life, it is usually because we identify ourselves in relation to the stories of our lives. We are usually very attached to these stories and its hard to give them up. That’s usually because they are based on so many beliefs and values we have absorbed along the way. Not too many of them are our own so we need to look at those stories and see if they are fairy tales or non-fiction. If we can’t seem to shake this negative feeling we live with all the time, its because there are many stories that are holding us back like a rock, affixed to a swimmers leg who’s going up current.
Why do those stories exist and never change? We haven’t confronted them, examined and challenged them, released and then embraced a new outlook on a potential life with meaning and significance and FUN! When we can get rid of the woeful stories that we identify with, our mindset changes. Our mindset is based on our values, beliefs, morals, ethics, principles, faith. They affect how we view our world, and how we see ourselves in it.
These stories I speak of are how we usually identify ourselves by. For example, a divorced woman may always refer to herself as a survivor. Maybe a middle aged man may feel that only people who are dishonest get ahead, and that’s the only way to get ahead financially. That story may come from seeing everyone in his neighbourhood of a certain class range, making more money and doing it dishonestly. Either way, when we regurgitate these feelings of woe, we get more of what we notice. Our mind becomes hyper vigilant and we start noticing every neighbour who now has a new car too and that ours is now 3 years old. We say, “why do I have to work harder than everybody else just to get the same thing? Its easier for other people.” These stories become locked inside and the energy leaves us feeling down and insecure. Our daily motto is then “I’m not good enough, I’m broken, I need to be fixed”.
Now on the other hand, a positive mind keeps us focusing on the good experiences we have had and are now having, while at the same time, finding what is valuable in the negative. Where we bring our attention determines how we feel.
On the other hand, one wouldn’t want to think exclusively “pie in the sky” happy thoughts all the time just to feel good and ignore our health and well-being. Be realistic and practical at the same time as optimistic, and enjoy the good things in life. Be concerned when we need to be concerned. Find the good in situations. Stay out of dysfunctional relationships, look them in the eye and get out of them when there are deal breakers. Pessimism is our enemy when trying to get out of toxic relationships because we tend to slip into ambivalence and not do what needs to be done to end them. An additional benefit to focusing on the positive, is it opens us to a wider range of opportunities. This means we are more likely to find people in situations that work out well for us.
Pessimistic dispositions has effects on all major areas of thinking. One of them is called Philosophical pessimism. This is a related idea where a person views the world in a absolutely anti-optimistic way. Despite what one would think, this isn’t an emotionally charged type of person. Instead it is a philosophy that challenges the idea of progress – and may include faith based claims of optimism.
But on the other hand, there are also existential nihilists where they believe that life has no intrinsic meaning or value. They believe, with respect to the universe, that a human or entire human species is insignificant, without purpose and unlikely to change in the totality of existence. So the theory goes that we are all born without knowing why and its up to each of us to figure it out. Their view is that there is a “meaninglessness of life”. However, one can create their own subjective meaning or purpose. This is called existentialism and has gotten a lot of attention philosophically.
So if you have fallen prey to Eeyore’s gloomy cloud, its time to figure out what your story is that you are attached to, and running through the washing machine cycles perpetually in your brain. Are you reacting with the primal part of brain or responding using conscious means? You can retrain your brain to think before reacting and to feel more positive and take care of the root of why you are unhappy.
3. Augury Ogre Stinking Thinking
Augurs are like fortune tellers who foresee and predict bad or good outcomes about a person’s life in the future. They observe behaviour and interpret them according to what they approve of or don’t. The Ogre stinking thinking occurs when you try to predict the worst possible outcome to a situation. When we predict the worst such as “I am going to fail this class or my business is going to sink or stink, or I’ll never get it launched, or I can’t go on that plane ride because I’ll have a panic attack” – your heart beats faster, you have faster breathing and more shallow, the adrenal glands pump out cortisol and adrenaline. Sometimes we stop breathing for a short time without noticing. This stress affects our bodies and we can end up with problems such as gastrointestinal disorders (IBS), high blood pressure and impaired immunity, to name a few.
Stress levels then become higher with fortune telling because we are predicting that things will come true. With this fortune telling, your thoughts become negative and your actions become those accordingly. And as a result, you end up experiencing what you have been predicting. By placing your attention on your prediction, you become alert to signs that your prediction is becoming true and you panic with every little indicator, confirming to yourself that your prediction is bang on the dollar.
Our brains are complex and there is a system called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). This is a bundle of nerves at the brain stem that filters out unnecessary information so that the important stuff gets through. And this important stuff may very well be the evidence we are seeking related to a belief we have. You can tune out a whole bunch of information but when you find the evidence you are seeking, your attention snaps to awareness. The RAS works to filter and sift through all the data and present pieces only of interest to you.
Essentially then, the RAS looks for the information to validate your beliefs. So you provide the parameters and your frame of reference (beliefs, values, morals, ethics, principles, faith) that shapes that mindset. It helps you see what you want to see and then influences your actions, until you make your reality true. For instance, you may think you are bad at speeches. You notice how people don’t laugh at your jokes or are yawning. So you just give up. And then you are bad at speeches because you aren’t showing up to give any!
This then messes up your intuition big time and your gut feelings are all over the wall. And you end up making bad choices or decisions, or remain in a soup of ambiguity, complacency or fear. When you get to this point, you have lost perspective and this is not serving the other person, as you try to manipulate to achieve your outcome.
As soon as you see a confirmation of what you “believe to be true” you become narrow minded because your need to be right clouds your judgment. What happens is, your thinking that you are right creates a bias. Then, you are constantly on the look out, seeking for proof to confirm your biases. But the problem is that you have also made it extremely difficult or impossible to see anything different.
With the science of neuroplasticity of the brain, it has been ascertained that you can train your RAS by taking your subconscious thoughts and bringing them to your conscious thoughts. This is called setting an “intent”. I call it “putting it on the back burner”. I place my attention on my intentions to not react, learn to respond, ask questions and try not to let my imagination in conjunction with my self-esteem get the best of me. If you focus hard on your results you want to achieve, your RAS will reveal the people, situations and information that will make it easier to make it so. Thus you will become more aware of yourself and notice positivity around you.
When you look at it this way, the Laws of attraction and how the universe operates, doesn’t seem like a far fetch concept. The laws say that what you focus on is what you will get more of, inviting it into your life. When people tell you to look on the bright side of things, its not a condescending idea because what you focus on is what you will seek out and find. Its not some Wooie Wooie thing or magic or some ominous force out to get you, its your RAS influencing the world you see around you.
That’s why its important in life to figure out what you want. By training your brain and visualizing what you want, you can let your subconscious part of the primal brain work together with the conscious areas, together to make things happen. The RAS is in essence your transportation to create forward movement in your life.
In keeping with the topic of Ogre stinking thinking, the RAS system, and the Universal laws of attraction, here are some examples I’ve witnessed and experienced. These examples involve people predicting another will be a loser in the future. For instance, an ex-husband said to me numerous times, that I had been nothing before he met me, was nothing the whole time we were together, and I would be nothing in the future. And he’s right to a degree because I have “nothing” to do with him.
Another situation was when a junior high school counsellor told a boy with special needs that he would do nothing with his life because he wasn’t academically inclined. This affected the boys life in the future in school, he couldn’t believe he could pass a test. As a result, he wouldn’t study or even try. He never finished grade 10. Ten years down the road he went back to school when he had more confidence and he did fine.
When I left my first abusive relationship, I believed and said to myself that I would never be happy again. Eventually I came to realize that I was only sad and progressively I got better. And it happened faster than I would have imagined at the time.
So the next time you are upset, try to examine what you are thinking and if your thought baggage is filled with Augury Ogre Stinking Thinking. When you figure that out, things seem to be put into perspective. With self- accountability and self-responsibility, we then take appropriate actions to correct the problem.
4. Alien ESP Stinking Thinking and Narcissism
ESP means extra sensory perception which essentially is mindreading. If you are prone to ESP Stinking Thinking, this involves the belief that you know what another person is thinking and it’s not good. This can be complicated because your prey hasn’t told you what they are thinking, and you didn’t even ask. Further to this, unless you have a degree in mind-reading, this can bring toxicity into a relationship when one person is assigning motive to the other as to why they really did something. For example, once I sat on a chair because of working all day and being tired. I just wanted a break before I took on the dishes. My Ex-husband at the time assigned me the motive that I was sitting because I wanted him to do the dishes and I was being passive aggressive (except he didn’t know what that word meant, he just called it being manipulative).
Helpful intuition versus poisonous ESP isn’t easy to tell between the two. Once you learn to throw this type of thought baggage into the garbage compactor, your relationships and mood will improve.
Your intuition is related and can be both a strength and a weakness. Sometimes we can see things that others miss and we can know a great deal without being able to explain exactly how. Your intuition can be an enormous strength (if used correctly). However, it also opens you up to worry and anxiety. If you believe your intuition without checking it out, you might end up knowing a lot that isn’t true. Sometimes you are right, but sometimes you have invented your own reality, which can be coloured by: lack of sleep, low blood sugar, eating the wrong foods to feed your brain, or chemistry that has run-a-muck. Then you can live in a world coloured with your own negative thoughts and free-floating feelings. You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you and you don’t bother to check it out. This creates anxiety and disrupts relationships. Then, you become susceptible to the augur ogre and alien ESP Stinking Thinking.
With Alien ESP Stinking Thinking, you know when you are mind reading when you have negative thoughts, and you say, “I don’t know for sure, but I know that she’s mad at me. He doesn’t like me. They were talking about me again.” You should not assume that you know what someone else is thinking. The dangerous part of thinking this way is that you believe that you couldn’t possibly figure out for sure so you don’t ask. The best policy if you are unsure of a person’s thoughts is to confront them and ask them. You can also write down your negative thoughts and challenge them based on evidence. Then you will know for certain. ESP Stinking Thinking is infectious and should be avoided, so you don’t get arrested by the alien ESP police quarantine unit (the inner critic).
Here is an example from the experience of a daughter of a narcissistic mother. This woman remembers when her mother, a devout Woolco shopper said the women who wore sweatsuits in public hadn’t “had it” in awhile and felt insufficient. And the daughter laughed at the absurdly of the comment and said that the mothers prejudices were showing through and she couldn’t possibly know what those women were thinking or why they were wearing sweatsuits. The mother gets upset because she feels the daughter is insinuating that she’s wrong and her intuition is off kilter. The mother punished the daughter, and the daughter crawled docilely back into her box.
Now, narcissistic mothers are very quick to criticize others because everything is about her and she’s always right. She can have this way that she takes other peoples differences as a personal attack to her. She doesn’t simple disagree with them; she is actually offended by them. She thinks she is “all that and a bag of chips” and she smells like roses 24/7. She thinks she is perfect and others are wrong and she’s right. And worse, by having those different thoughts and opinions, the others are apparently criticizing hers. No wonder she is offended… she is mind reading that they think she’s wrong. And a narcissistic mother must be right all the time. If you indicate otherwise, she will read into it and take it as a personal assault. So she is very sensitive and its tough to get along with someone like that.
Topic 5. Intuition and Empathy and the dark side of stinking thinking.
Intuition is the ability to instinctively understand the underlying messages behind a circumstance or conversation without the need for conscious reasoning. And sometimes we tend to use our intuition as a guide. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another and have sympathy with them. An empathetic person has the ability to have an affinity with someone so they can establish rapport from the ability of being likeminded.
However, the dark side of Intuition is when stinking thinking comes into play. We learn to rely on our intuition and empathic too much without the practical reasoning of evidence and lean towards believing negative feelings without ever questioning them.
In addition to intuition having a dark side, empathy also can be a blessing and a curse. The downside is getting drawn down into other peoples problems and pain. If we don’t learn to draw back out energy after an experience or conversation, you can become sad along down with them. You take on their issues away from the conversation, as if they were your own. Then you might feel guilty about enjoying yourself and your successes while people, whom you care about, are having a harder time.
An example of this was when a family member experienced a close death in their immediate family, they are in mourning still after 2 years, of course. And so they live a life different from what they used to, before the death. They don’t celebrate holidays and life is stressful on many levels. So it is difficult to decide whether to tell the grieving family member that we are doing things and having a good life. That is because we are taking on their burdens out of sympathy and our empathic abilities are on the rampage. It is hard to deal with that same death too if we were somewhat close, but maybe its not so hard, no being as close to the family member who passed on. We all grieve differently. So when taking the time and space for our own concerns, we feel guilty.
This empathetic feature of focusing on your emotions can lead you prey to this particular stinking thinking – Thinking with your feelings.
Yes it helps you to know what you are feeling. However, here is an example of the dark side of thinking with your feelings. “Ie. I feel like you don’t love me or I feel like I am being treated unfairly.” Maybe you do feel that way, but is it true?
Feelings can lie sometimes. Especially when we are tired, grieving, hungry, worried about something else, under a lot of stress and pressure, deprived of the brain chemicals you need or hormonal issues.
Don’t let negative feelings rule your thoughts! Write them down and look for the evidence behind them. Putting your feelings down on paper. This is therapeutic because we can write them down and we don’t have to carry them around anymore.
We can set aside a specific time of the day when its most convenient, to think and reason about what you are feeling and why or where it comes from. Then we don’t have to keep thinking about those feelings all day long because we know we have a specific time wet aside to feel and think and reason. We can revisit them anytime we want on paper. And usually, if our feelings and thoughts are challenged, we determine whether or not if the feeling is based on a story we are telling ourselves. We can look at our beliefs and values and see just how they are affecting our mindset and how we are seeing the world, and the situations we experience throughout our lives.
So, when you sense something with your gut, intuition or you empathetic nature is slanted to the dark side, be careful. It is best to lead the situation by asking open ended questions.
You can then listen for the answers IF your gut/intuition is in alignment with their situation, thoughts or feelings – or whatever the golden thread is of that conversation. Otherwise you would hold your tongue and be an observer. You do this to see if it is accurate what you are perceiving, or if its your own projection based on your own mindset and how you think.
Your intuition or empathy may be affected by simply your fears or “squirrels” from your past. This is an important point, to believe your gut without confirmation from asking questions doesn’t help you with a tendency to be on the dark side of intuition and empathy.
So when you are detecting there is an underlying substance to a problem, or circumstance, pull in the reigns and be the observer. Use your gut feelings as a marker that it is time to ask open ended questions to verify the truth of the matter. And then learn from that experience, so that it shapes your intuitive nature to be more objective in conjunction with being instinctive.
Now there’s nothing wrong with intuition and empathy, its just when you take the dark side that it becomes a stinking thinking issue. And you can usually see if you are in that arena by the feedback you get from believing without validating. Thats why it is important to take back your energy and put your feelings to paper so you can shut out your inner dialogue that can chase you around all day.
How To Shut-Down Inner Dialogue
Focus on every word…
Let intuition/gut be a trigger or marker to ask open needed, curious questions
What is the fear/anxiety/subject, breathe & be present, ask others/self a question, where is that coming from?
Does this thought/insight I have fit the Golden Thread of their priorities for this conversation? Will this serve me or the other person or detract from the openness of the conversation? Will this line of thought help me better communicate without blame, shaming or guilt-tripping all over them.
A person cannot truly shut down negative inner dialogue, but with practice, you can quiet those thoughts or feelings.
Say to yourself “I’ll deal with those thoughts and feelings later.” Put the feelings to paper quickly, as soon as you can, and then write or journal about them later on. Set the time aside for a more convenient time where you can write out the observations you made and what your gut instincts were and compare observations. You can gain valuable insight into your beliefs and values and see if they are serving you well.
And remember: You do not have to be right. Its to make adjustments to our instincts so they serve you better. And you don’t have to be right about every subject that comes your way.
When we sense/feel something, ask open ended questions and then maintain your curiosity.
How do you know when you crossed the line from operating in the others best interest – to manipulation?
It’s when you project and assume that you are thinking in the other persons best interests, without actually listening to what the other persons actually are telling you.
Asking open-ended questions is the antidote to mind reading.
It frees you from the jail of skinking thinking and trying to read people‘s minds, trusting my intuition and trying to follow my “gut“.
In business, over confidence, projection, thinking we know our customer, is thinking or heading close to manipulation. This is always toxic and often fatal to rapport, and more importantly, a greater risk.
Topic 6 of Thought Baggage and Stinking Thinking
“Shoulding on self” Stinking Thinking
Have you ever had someone project their agendas, values, beliefs and opinions on you? Have they been “shoulding” on you? How does that make you feel when they do this?
This stinking thinking issue relates to how people think in words like “should, must, ought or have to” and beating themselves with guilt — “The infamous shower of should’s”.
If taught to put others needs first, you may feel guilty, to stand up for yourself or take the time to de-stress. Guilt is frequently the result. To begin to deal with these “shoulding ceremonies”, try to confront and examine your own moral-code, and see if you can put it into segments of what you truly want. Instead of statements of “I should”, ask yourself “does this behaviour fit my sub-purposes of my life time?” If the answer is No, consider the time frame and do it when it makes more sense for you. Or if the whole idea bombarded on you doesn’t serve you, feel free to express yourself according to your own individuality. This would be in a manner that brings you significance and meaning and value to your life.
That doesn’t mean you couldn’t be open to suggestions and positive critiquing, it just means that you could take the advice into consideration, and then make your own decisions. On the other hand, you could do nothing about it and not let it bother you. If you are the student of your own life and you know what and who you are, then others projections and “shoulding” isn’t relevant, though irreverent. If you can get in touch with the active witness of your own life then you are tapping into your inner guru, Then, the process to freeing yourself from the guilt-beating Stinking Thinking settles down the noise in your head. This will help you to make better choices. You will be able to respond rather than react. And then you won’t be going home after a conversation with thoughts churning around in your brain, that “I should have said or done this instead, it would have been better.”
One example would be when parents beat themselves up because their kids make poor choices. We tend to think that they make their mistakes because we did something wrong in parenting them. We say to ourselves “I should have disciplined them this way, or role modelled that way.” I shouldn’t have let them play with those other type of kids. A parent who is a business person may say they shouldn’t have gone to work so early or come home so late.
Essentially, as parents, what we do is give them the tools to make better decisions and to examine the choices. Then its all on them as adults to live their life and go through their own learning curve. We can’t do it for them. The truth is, we could have done all the right things raising them, but that doesn’t guarantee that their lives will run smoothly.
It also means we are free to cut the umbilical cord, and not feel we are responsible for their financial decisions and be lending them money until we are broke. It’s ok to do it because we have the means or we want to, but to be guilting ourselves into doing something thats not an financially sound decision, then its not in our best interest.
Also, we don’t want to enable them to not make the choices and decisions that would work better for them.
There’s the example of the mother who wants to see the kids, but they are busy with their own lives. So she guilts them into coming to visit by “shoulding” on them and playing the blame, shame, guilt-trips on them. They may work hard and have many kids and responsibilities or live far away. So the kids visit begrudgingly and nobody is happy. And when the kids get home they vow they won’t go for another visit for a long while. They “should” on themselves, with “I should just stand up to her”. The fear and judgment can be a lot to bear.
Topic 7. Clubhouse “Stamp of disapproval” Stinking Thinking
With this Stinking Thinking, you get the clubhouse stamp or lick on tattoo that’s lumps you in as “one of them”. So you attach a negative label to yourself or to someone else. Attaching a negative label, whether to yourself or someone else, keeps you from taking a clear look at yourself, another or the situation for as it is.
For example the one you have labelled “he’s a jerk; I’m an idiot; what a stupid rule; what an awful thing to say”. Now, instead of looking clearly at the specific comment or rule, you are just lumping it in with all the other jerks, idiots, schmucks, stupid rules, and awful remarks you have known.
Labelling won’t help you deal with the issue or to make an accurate judgment. So if you can, avoid labels and see things on their own terms.
For instance, it is hurtful to label someone as a psycho because they are depressed or grieving, have disabilities like being bipolar, or are of a particular religious affiliation. This doesn’t deal with who they are as an individual with special circumstances.
I’ve heard people refer to men/women with bowel tumors as having men/women problems. Or some people say “he’s a Catholic” so he must not believe in birth control and that’s why he has 4 kids. Some say you are excessively happy because you are manic, not because you met a wonderful partner lately. Some call you a divorcée just because you are divorced and so this means you are…etc.
Lumping someone or pigeon holing is categorizing or mentally filing someone into a folder they cannot get out of, unless they quit associating with you entirely. Even then, the stigma can follow them for a long time.
If someone was married 3 times, does that mean they are bad material for dating? What if they had difficulties in the past, circumstantial and beyond their control?
As stated above, labelling or assigning people judgemental labels, just alienates them and makes them feel like “Burnt toast”.
Topic 8. The famous blame, shame, guilt trio – Stinking Thinking
“Hi I’m Larry, and this is my brother Daryl and my other brother Daryl.” (Bob Newhart Show)
When we begin to go down this path, we are just part of a trio that’s not too brilliant. This is the most harmful Stinking Thinking and it happens when we blame someone else for our own problems, feelings and misery. Sometimes when we are attached to old stories from the past, we continue to blame and carry judgments around until our anxiety levels are high. When we experience actions that hurt us, from someone else, blaming them can be harmful. For instance if we say to someone that “if you hadn’t done XX, then this wouldn’t have happened and I wouldn’t feel… etc” — we are saying they have all the power over our lives and that we have none. It also holds us back from our own accountability to ourselves. The blame-game undermines our sense of personal power That’s why it is the most poisonous Stinking Thinking of all.
When we blame others in conversations, it’s also part of the shame game. It takes the heat off ourselves, places it on others. And if the subject is a hot one for the other, personalization occurs and they may feel shamed. Blaming ourselves is also a form of shaming. And when we are trying to dupe the active witness of our lives, the guilt sets in. Or if our inner dialogue is negative and we put ourselves down, the guilt bug has bitten us.
What can you do if this stink bug is bothering you?
Focus on what you can do about a situation and on what you want to do next. Don’t allow these blaming, shaming, guilting bugs to bite and burrow into any space in your mind. Even from the past, you may keep bringing it up as if it were happening now. This can be an indication of the classic compulsive brain type, getting stuck on negative thoughts that you can’t dislodge. Calming an overactive brain can be helped by exercise, healthy nutrition and regular sleep. But these biological approaches, are important, are not all that a person needs.
You may need to learn how to quiet your mind. With blame, whenever something happens, you could be leaping to the conclusion that someone else is to blame, rather than seeing how you contributed to the situation.
When you are blaming, often you may not be viewing things from the others perspective or angle. On the other hand, you also need to shift from blaming others, and put it where the responsibility actually lies, and instead observe yourself. Stop feeling like a victim of your own mind. Confront, examine all the circumstances of the present and challenge your Stinking Thinking. If you are possibly right that something is untoward, ask more questions to confirm.
If you are blaming because you know someone’s behaviour in the past, try to see what’s current. When your mind flows fluid and the dark side of intuition takes affect, ask questions so you don’t get into mind reading. All of that leads to more blaming and shaming.
In business, we may complain our employees are lazy. But whose responsibility is it you have them this way? Or that you keep them on? It’s a tangled little web we weave. To get out of it – ask questions, observe the present, live in the present, don’t assume. And most of all, be an observer when looking at past behaviours so you can truly see the dynamics of it for what it is.
Blame shame guilting is all part of a judgment and projection game we play on ourselves and others. It reeks havoc on relationships and in the communities. When you can give yourself and others a break, all the little trivial problems won’t seem so important to stew over. See where your beliefs stem from and look at it to see if they stem from another source, and their fears and insecurities. Fear usually is the culprit behind most Stinking Thinking.
Disclaimer: If someone is blaming and shaming you over inaccurate information or assigning motives to you, feel free to use your voice to state your boundaries. And try not to get trapped in the blame game while confronting them. It can be a cycle that is best left to the final realization that “I don’t need to be right; what matters is what I think.”
Topic 9. Patenting subliminal messages” Stinking Thinking
This is when you take a seemingly innocent event and have to patent it for yourself (figuratively), and make it have a personal, negative meaning. Yes personalization is a key right-brained strength we use to build relationships. However the downside to it may result in self talk such as “My husband didn’t call, he must not love me” or “my daughter failed her exam, I should have spent more time helping her with homework (aka doing it for her)”.
Taking problems and failures personally is an act of an undisciplined mind. The counter thought to the example about the daughters exam, may be something like, “by the time she’s in college, her study habits should be her own responsibility, not mine.” Neither blaming yourself for everything that goes on, nor assuming that other people’s actions are all about you, are accurate reflections of reality. For example “he never listens to me; I always have to do what he wants; everyone in this family gets away with things except me.”
This Absolute Stinking Thinking is characterized by words like no-one, everyone, every time, everything. This negative thinking makes a temporary situation look permanent. This thinking closes your mind to other possibilities and keeps you focused on the negative, thereby feeling anxious and/or depressed.
Here is an example that was explained to me back in 1993 in a women’s shelter. It’s a concept that easy to talk about as an outsider. It is hard to recognize when you are in the thick of it yourself. For instance, in divorces, when children are caught in the middle of the battle, they often absorb and take on the blame for the relationship being rocky. They think that it’s up to them to be the go-between because the problem is their fault. So they become stuck in the middle of a mental court battle between 2 arguing parents. They are used as counsellors, pawns for information, but they also take on the role as the jury. The parents play the role of lawyer stating their case, and key witness to her/his point of view, and judge who determines who the jury is. The child gets to be the jury, whom each parent has to win over so that they will be loved and accepted. So the child personalizes, patents, or stamps their hand with the stamp called ”this is all on me”.
So when the child grows up like this, they take on this role and have learned to personalize many things, being the jury/counsellor. They are scanning and looking for evidence to support their perceptions, that others are putting them in between again. This is just an example.
Patenting goes on when a person hears subliminal messages beneath any statement about a topic, that they are hyper vigilant about. They are constantly scanning for passive aggressive people who state hidden messages as attacks. They look for double meanings in touchy subjects. They mind read and fortune tell, as a means to verify how the other may be blaming and shaming them. If a person is blaming and shaming themselves, feeling guilty, they see the world through the lens of their own insecurities. So all of these Stinking Thinking weeds are interwoven as part of a thought baggage problem.
If you find someone you know takes things out of context often, you may feel like you are constantly on the cross examination stand in court.
When we feel we have to walk on egg shells, tip toe around the elephant in the living room — we begin to withhold information or not be open with the patenting officer. We are afraid of being misinterpreted or having the energy sucked out of them. It’s hard to change the mind of someone about your motives if they have already got it set in their heads that you were out to get them. It’s hard to be real with someone who takes things personally.
In the end, it’s difficult to live with a patenting official and it’s certainly harder to be in the head of one. Patenting officers may find they have less genuine and real friends.
Reframing the Blame Stinking Thinking
Instead of commiserating with all the elements of a problem, that is unnerving, try to be an observer. What this means is, you would see the challenge as something you are involved in and what it is you want to do. Being an observer means you can look at a particular situation from all angles objectively. Then you use rational and reasonable means to examine the validity of your stinking thinking. When you are willing and ready to examine the fine points of a situation (the observer), then you are in a position to challenge any thoughts that you cannot be 100% absolutely sure to be true. When challenging thoughts that are holding a net negative energy, as an observer we can objectively draw new conclusions. These conclusions would be based on evidence in the present, not the past. Remember, people change as a result of changing circumstances over the years. People evolve and so do patterns and behaviours.
However, consistent past behaviours of the other person, that seems to still be present today, is taken into account. If we are going to make decisions based on the past, perhaps its better to pay attention to the lessons we extracted and to use them as a marker to beware of present day behaviours, of the other. Its based on evidence from today, not the past. When examining a situation for what it is, as an observer – we are less subjective and it is done from a compassionate place of no judgments, blaming, or pointing fingers. The dark side of intuition and empathy is taking things personally and indulging in mind reading. So asking questions is key, rather than making assumptions. That way we aren’t perpetually scanning for evidence that our fears are correct.
When reframing the stinking thinking, if we can be an observer, we could get to the more likely truths. We wouldn’t have to be stuck in paranoia, which takes a lot of energy to maintain. When using reasoning, we can respond rather than react. This gives us control and reduces panic attacks, anxiety, and fear of the unknown.
If we were to let go of our judgments, what would that mean for us, we might ask? The fear of the unknown paired with a great imagination, are all part of making judgments and blaming. When taking the time to consciously think things out, there is no more monkey brains and crazy talk or negative brain chatter.
Clarity arrives when we can respond with an understanding of the full context of the situation. We move from always reacting (when we are in our heads), to thinking and responding. We make better decisions because we are aware of all the possible reasons for a situation. Our perceptions are no longer skewed or biased, towards all the insecure stories we are attached to in our thought baggage. With positive experiences, resulting from learning to respond, our confidence in our own self efficiency is boosted. We are not afraid to tackle obstacles as they arise, keeping positive, focused, healthy and motivated.
An example of indulging in stinking thinking.
“My boyfriend didn’t come over in time or call when he said he would, I gave up my whole evening for him and now its too late to go to that movie I wanted to see. He has just ruined my night. He’s probably out dating other women that are better than me.”
The same example – Quieting the Stinking Thinking
“It’s still early, maybe I can go to a later show or watch TV or call a friend to chat. I don’t have to give up all my fun for an evening just because of a missed phone call. people, that’s his business. I won’t jump to conclusions and ask questions when I see him next. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.”
Greg says….The key to reframing the blame is being able to be present, take position of an observer like watching a movie. It’s pretty 😎