Sandy paced, fuming. Her heart was pounding, her face was flushed, and she couldn't shake the feeling of impending doom. Her husband, Dan, was just told that he had to make another business trip to Cleveland. Cleveland! Location of that floozy he kept chatting so intimately with at work. The woman did some of the shipping for his job, and he was the one who set up the logistics with her.
Sandy had overhead some of those conversations, and she knew...she KNEW that Dan was going to look this woman up when he got to Cleveland and have a tryst with her. She could still remember clearly when they were all at a big conference together, and one of his coworkers had brought the woman over to meet Dan in person for the first time. She could still clearly see how the woman's face lit up, and how she had enthusiastically embraced him. But then also, how the woman pulled back when she noticed Sandy standing there.
Sandy couldn't stop her racing thoughts. This was it. The end of everything. That woman was everything that Dan liked - short, petite, blonde. Everything that Sandy was not. Sandy took a deep breath. She had to pull herself back together before Dan came home.
The small voice came into her head. She tried to brush it aside. It kept telling her to look the woman up in Facebook. She went into the kitchen to start pulling out ingredients for dinner. The quiet voice wouldn't leave her alone. So, she sat down at her computer and did a search for the woman on Facebook, all the while cursing her own weakness.
She found her.
Or rather, she found what was left. The woman she knew that Dan was going to meet and have a tryst with had died two years prior from cancer. She left a handsome, grieving fiancé.
The story that Sandy's mind had created, that had her in a state of terrible suffering - that story was not only untrue, it was impossible for it to have been true. Yet, if you had hooked Sandy up to the fanciest lie-detector device on the planet she could have passed it with flying colors. She believed her story that completely. And, Sandy experienced her story completely. It was created and happening only in her mind, yet she was experiencing all of the uncomfortable physical reactions of her body as well as if it were real.
I would like to say that I made this up. But, sadly, I didn't. It's a true story.
Are your thoughts really true? The mind creates thoughts continually that come and go. You as a Conscious Being do not create the thoughts. I can prove it. What is the next thought that you are going to have? Give it a minute. You couldn't answer because you are not the one creating the thoughts. More simply, you are not your thoughts.
The mind doesn't like blanks. It wants a complete picture. When we have some information, but not all of it, the mind will complete the missing information using information that it already has. It will use information from the past.
We cannot know that the thoughts and stories that our minds come up with are true. When we have a strong thought, our bodies will react to that thought with physical symptoms. We will go into fight or flight, and our adrenaline will start flooding us with hormones.
While it was true that Dan had been asked to go to Cleveland for work, all of the intense suffering that Sandy went through was the product of the story that her mind created from those few facts.
Questioning thoughts and stories of the mind as a daily practice is a useful and important tool. Asking, "Is it true?" "Do I absolutely know with 100% certainty that it's true?" can help bring us back into the present moment, and into clarity. Inquiry can save us from needless suffering.
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