When I heard this song “Shadow Boxer” by Fiona Apple I knew that this was going to be the title of my next blog. Not for the lyrics but rather how the title applies to us in our daily lives. I don’t know about you but I’ve spent my entire life shadowboxing … shadowboxing fear, the unknown and just anticipating the worst. My vista (reality) was so contaminated and faulty that I always had my arms up swinging and punching at whatever came my way. Innocently I thought if I was prepared I would be able to avoid the inevitable … feeling pain and discomfort. However, what resulted was MORE pain and discomfort that was altogether avoidable.
I never believed in the law of attraction. It was and is to a large degree in my mind too “mystical.” That being said the more I understand the power of thought the more I realize that if we are always reacting to life (shadowboxing) we make bad decisions because that is all we know based on the current information we are working from. We are limited in our thinking and don’t see opportunities or possibilities that exist, the world becomes a fearful place and we make choices accordingly. When we live at a higher level of mental health/well being and realize our thoughts are just thoughts, we stop reacting (shadowboxing), we see all the opportunities and possibilities that exist and we make better decisions and as a result tend to live a more satisfying, better life. To this end I believe in the idea of “attraction”. I was always proving to myself when something would go wrong that it was evidence of what I believed all along – that things weren’t likely to work out. This justified my shadowboxing and the never ending vicious cycle of cynicism and pessimism.
I want to be clear that this is more then just having positive thinking though, you can’t simply re-frame your thoughts. Unless you actually stop taking your thoughts seriously, no matter how much of a positive spin you put on your old thoughts as long as you take your thoughts and feelings seriously nothing has changed. The fear and feelings are still there. The power lies in realizing that we are the thinker of our thoughts, the creator of our personal realities based upon our thoughts and our thoughts will come back to us in the form of feelings. Our feelings are an indicator that our thoughts are out of whack, that our thinking has gone south on us and our mental state of mind is low.
Armed with this knowledge we are no longer victims of life or our circumstances or things outside of us, but rather have the power to essentially change our realities by changing our thoughts. What I’ve come to realize is as long as I am alive and breathing I will be hit with negative thoughts and the feelings that accompany them but I have the power of awareness and choice. I have the ability to tune them out and dismiss them instead of entertaining them.
Last week I felt as if I were fighting the devil himself. I was having a full on thought attack for a period of two to three days and every time I would entertain the negative, fearful, limiting thoughts I would spiral deeper into self doubt and self loathing. I bought into those insecure thoughts which created a ton of unnecessary drama and emotional anxiety for me. I failed to recognize that I could stop entertaining those thoughts and just ignore them or tune them out. Instead they were on my minds eye and the volume was maxed out so that they were all I could see and hear.
Unfortunately, like many of you, I’ve spent the better part of my life in this state; indulging my fears and anxieties. I allowed my thinking to run rampant and with my speculative thinking (crystal ball) create scenarios and “as if” realities that hadn’t even happened except within my own head. This is NOT the way we were meant to live.
Imagine with me for a moment how different your life would be if you were able to quite your mind down, tune out (like an athlete at the free throw line with 3 seconds left in the game) all the negative, fearful, insecure thoughts. Having presence and clarity, and such a calm resolve that you stop reacting to life and as a result your reality or vista takes on a whole new look. Can you imagine how effective you would be? You would be functioning at optimum levels and would excel in all areas because most people don’t know how to tune out their own negative, habitual thoughts. You automatically put yourself in a position of strength. We can do this by simply learning to become aware of our thinking and have a sense of humor towards it not taking it seriously and not entertaining our negative, habitual thinking.
I was reading in Richard Carlson’s book What About the Big Stuff and in Chapter 30, “Rely on Optimism,” he shares:
Thinking “the glass if half empty” is really nothing more than a mental habit reinforced thousands of time over a lifetime.
It’s important to remember that there is plenty of beauty in the world. There is much to be grateful for—and hopeful about. The bottom line is this: Generally speaking, you’ll find what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for validation or proof of ugliness in the world, you’ll find it because it’s there. On the other hand, if you’re determined to see the beauty and the blessings, you’ll see that too. Because it’s there as well.
As a child I was innocently taught that the world was a fearful place to live. I was scared of people, places and things. I didn’t see possibilities or opportunities, all I saw were limitations and consequences which made me incredibly insecure and fearful. As a result of this thought system I related to the world from that vista. That was all I knew. I was afraid of my own shadow and I was really afraid of making any mistakes. As a result I was unhappy and very limited in what was available to me, which caused me to be very judgmental, even critical of people who seemed to be living happier lives.
So my question to you is what are you thinking? Are you judgmental and critical? Are you so tuned into the negativity in your head that it is all you can hear? How is that impacting the rest of your life? Is your life full of fear and anxiety? Start paying attention to your thoughts. Become aware, without judging yourself or your thoughts and realize if your thoughts are that of life being half empty or half full. Stop shadowboxing your way through life. It starts with you!
You made me a shadow boxer, baby.
I wanna be ready for what you do.
I been swinging all around me.
cause I don’t know when you’re gonna make your move.