Without indulging in TMI (too much information), I’ll just say that I have certain ways of thinking that feel so helpful, right and urgent in the moment yet only really help to disconnect me from the people and experiences I value most.
I’ve been confronted with them before. They've aroused denial and upset (“Me? S/he’s the issue”). They've aroused surrender and humiliation (“Ok, I messed up; but how and when am I ever going to change?”). At times they've aroused hope and resolve.
This week, after tasting the smorgasbord, I felt hope and resolve. Though it’s a topic I’ve touched on repeatedly, I’ve found that I don’t tire of its reaffirming wisdom.
I saw that though I experience the urgency and agitation, they aren’t who I am. Though I sense I have ingrained habits, they’re not my permanent address. I just sometimes lose sight of how thoughts and moods work and my capacity for wisdom beneath it all.
Under the surface of our feelings and judgments flow thoughts. Some thoughts are warm and expansive. Some are insecure. Warm feelings are simply the experience of our warm thoughts; insecure feelings are simply the experience of our insecure thoughts. Hence a person can experience the same thing in vastly different ways depending on his mood.
What's tricky is that it doesn't always seem that way. It can seem that my feelings are a function of my personality combined with my circumstances - both of which aren't so easily changed.
Jewish wisdom teaches that this life can be filled with "tzaros" - often translated as "suffering" but more accurately "narrowness." Knowing that we are capable of narrow, short-sighted perspectives can help us take them less personally, gracefully riding them out as we trust in the wisdom and wide angle perspective that is also part of the gift of being alive.