You’re doing fine. We all are.

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I remember sitting up in the hospital bed the evening of the day my first child was born, everyone had gone home, no more visitors, just the two of us, at last.  There, looking back at me, was  the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  Bright blue eyes filled with wonder and I had never known such love.  At that moment, the world was perfect.  I thought I would remain in this feeling forever, it was so intense it could never fade or be taken away.  Eventually a nurse suggested I put him down and we both get some sleep. I was okay with that.. he was mine.. forever.

Within weeks I was having a breakdown. How could this be? How could I have gone from sheer bliss to utter torment in such a short space of time. Of course I believed there was something terribly wrong with me. I was broken.  I had this amazing human being, completely dependent on me and I all I could feel was panic, despair, sheer anxiety and it was spiralling out of control.  I couldn’t cope with the smallest of things; going out for milk, being left on my own, getting dressed, letting the health visitor in…

Then the guilt sets in. What a terrible mother. Why wasn’t I coping? Other people were coping.  I had failed at breastfeeding, I had failed at giving birth the ‘proper’ way, I was failing at being a Mum.   By now my anxiety levels were unparalleled by anything I had felt before.   I continued on the treadmill of living as normal a life as I knew how to, but beneath it all was a deep-seated sense of dread that something terrible would happen.  I soon developed obsessive and compulsive tendencies, doing things in a particular order, only buying brands of food or cleaning product I believed I could trust. Checking and re-checking that all the plugs were pulled out before I went to bed.

If only I had known then what I have now come to understand.  I was fearing my feelings. All the ‘what if’s’ that swirled around my head for all of those years were thoughts that something could happen that would make me feel awful.  The fear of failure. The fear of the guilt. The fear of grief.

When I see this now, I recognise the irony of it. I was already feeling all of those things!   Feelings follow thought.   All experience is created through thought in the moment.  I was crippling myself with fear over the thought of a future bad feeling.

I  know now, without question, that thought is neutral and that specific thought content can only become positive or negative if we label them so.  I also know that I have no control over which of the billions of possible thoughts pop into my head in each moment and that feelings are just reflections of a thought.  Even when a feeling comes that doesn’t seem very nice, as soon as we see it for what it really is, without doing anything, that thought it is reflecting will eventually flow past and the ill feeling will surely follow.

The problem wasn’t that I was having the wrong kind of thoughts. There wasn’t anything wrong with me that made me have those particular thoughts rather than different thoughts that other people had.  I just failed to see thought for what it really was. I also failed to see that those awful feelings of pressure, dread, guilt, have a purpose.  They help us to recognise when we are stuck in our personal thinking. Once we see this, we can accept the feeling as nothing more than a passing thought, knowing it can do us no harm. Then, all by itself it will slip away.

I could really give myself a hard time about this. All those years. The things I might have missed out on, the people I might have hurt along the way.  If only I had recognised the true nature of experience earlier.  But, once in this conversation, I began to recognise that every one of us is doing the best we can within our own thought created experience given our awareness at any moment.  I began to see the innocence of people, the humility of humanity and I couldn’t blame myself.

Well-being is always there within us.  It is the creative energy that brought us into being. Like all energy, it cannot be destroyed and, as Syd Banks said, we are only ever one thought away from it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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