From the beginning: "A" Discovery

You might notice that Auto-Thoughts begins with the first letter of the alphabet.  All of the remaining Markers will follow that same pattern:  Auto-thoughts, Beliefs, Consequences, Dig…. (So will the Tools.  You’ll see)

Shut up!  In 2012, this was my most pronounced Auto-thought, directed at goats and people and, especially, myself.

While I never uttered the words aloud, it was a constant theme.  Why had everyone from my goats to the guy on his cell phone at the gas station become insufferable in their chatty-ness?  Mornings became my time to think and Google, which I did with a cup of tea, from bed.  Truth be told, I did a lot of my Googling in this upstairs bedroom at all times of the day, sitting on my mattress aside a big heap of window and door trim stashed under the eaves. Between Google searches, I listened to my own chatty thoughts which sometimes took the form of a question.

“Did my slant create the cancer?”  I asked the empty room.   The trim-less walls and windows stayed silent.

If I wasn’t Googling the number of coats needed for the dark stain I would need to apply once the trim was in place, I was Googling to find out what others did to “cure” cancer.

I read research that discussed the Type C (for cancer) personality—fearful, stoic, and inauthentic. I noted these qualities in myself.

Fun Fact:  we’re born with many of our most ingrained qualities.  And what we’re not born with, much of what we acquire, quality-wise, happens early on.  I learned that the best way to get along with people was to be masked and silent, so that became one of my most defining qualities.  Although I wasn’t aware of any of this, it gave me a certain sense of safety to quietly recede to the back of the room.

This is how “Shut Up!” became the primary Auto-Thought I began my Elements work with.  As I yearned for a quiet place from which to gather my thoughts, I kept a tight fist on my status quo:  head down as to avoid conflict and unwanted attention.  At the same time, my goats and everyone else within ear shot got louder.

One morning, between the Google searches, came this thought about “shut up”:  Maybe others seemed to talk tiresomely and ceaselessly because I had so silenced myself.  I was the common denominator.  I had identified loudness as my nemesis, but it was actually my self-enforced silence.

I had no idea how to fix this.

And yet, I felt lighter with this realization.  It seems I had unearthed an important recognition centered on a single Auto-thought.  If I was lucky, this “Shut Up!” might point the way towards even more self-discovery.

Reader's Action Step

Identify some of your own Auto-thoughts.  They’re any thought that you have more than a few times a week.  They can be positive or negative.  The negative ones often manifest negative emotions and/or events.

You might find it difficult to catch yourself thinking automatic thoughts in the beginning.  I find that I can be more aware of random thoughts when I’m doing a “mindless” task, like washing the dishes or weeding the garden or, at this time of year, shoveling snow.  Just before or after a task that takes some focus is a good time to catch yourself “thinking” about the task at hand.

Automatic thoughts can be positive, neutral, or negative.  Here are some examples in each category:

Positive:  


Neutral:  I’m so hungry!  I’m so tired!  

Negative:  

  • There is never enough (fill in the blank–hours in the day, money, support…you get the idea)
  • I’m late / behind!
  • I look frumpy / fat / old.

Now select one of the negative Auto-thoughts, and write it down. Sit with your intuition for five minutes, staying open for clues about what the Markers might be ready to show you.  Jot down anything that comes to mind.

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