Noun or Verb

The continuing exploration of ways of thinking differently is frequently focused on the language that we use to construct and share our thoughts. There are organic sensations both physical and spiritual which seem to elude words. But, most of our thinking is reflected and shaped in the language we were taught and which we use.

A key focus of this can be whether we are using more nouns to describe our experiences or more verbs. A helpful image is to view nouns as being essentially “snapshots” of moments of our lives where as verbs are more like “video”. Both hold truth and give us awareness of ourselves. Though, through describing and feeling ourselves as the actions we take (being a verb) usually offers us more subtle insight into the dynamics and process of our experiences.

This is easily seen in contrasting two views of say, the common cold. When in the medical industry, a doctor says, “You have a cold.” It gives the image that the cold is something that you possess. Something like an object that you would “carry in your pocket”. This pespective would shape your thinking to see the cold and its symptoms as something that must be stopped and eliminated. In our culture, this would have us following a path of prescribed and over the counter chemicals which would focus on blocking symptoms (coughing, sneezing, runny nose, stuffiness, etc.

A different way of thinking is seen in the way a holistic or “big picture” view of describing your experience as your body “cleansing”.  Symptoms/behaviors would be experienced as natural functions of the body to release toxins and waste products. One would be invited to choose actions of enhancing the cleansing process (drinking more water, eating simpler foods or fasting, increasing vitamins/nutrients, rest/massage, sauna/colonics, etc.)

With the first view our focus would be in seeing causation and responsibility as being something outside of ourselves. Reinforced by statements like “there is a lot of that going around”. The second view would offer us choices that would look toward strengthening and enhancing our immune systems. The contrast is between being a victim of circumstance or an active participant looking for opportunities for change. The approach would lead us to rid ourselves of symptoms/consequence and yet possibly ignore root causes. The second would encourage growth and fortify us for yet unforeseen challenges.

Both nouns and verbs are a vital component of thinking process. Both assist our process. But nouns are by nature more rigid in defining ourselves in a static way. How often do we limit ourselves by saying “a man doesn’t do this or that” or “that we need to act more adultlike” ? How easily we are “boxed in” by stereotypes and preconceived judgments. How is the experience different when we use “verb” language which is more fluid and dynamic ? Feelings and actions describe the subtleties that offer more unique perspective of our individual experience.

Our awareness and choice of how we use language can impact whether we experience “human being” as a verb offering a world of choices or as a noun, simply a label.

How do you think differently about these things ?

The Difficulties Of Time Travel

At times, my sweetheart wife says something where I believe she has just called me an “ass” (Usually more often than I like to admit.) 

Most commonly the following conversation occurs.

“You just called just called me an “ass””

She usually replies in denial, “No I didn’t”

Typically, I answer by repeating with obnoxious, accuracy exactly what she has said, 

Defensively, she says, “Well that is not what I meant.”

Then with stubborn, argumentative skills honed by considerable practice and possibly born from a full blooded German ancestry, I proceed to continue to go round and round with this traditional ritual mating dance. Which usually ends with my winning the debate by her agreeing with me that I am an “ass”.

In reviewing this experience, I observe a number of things. First, I am usually right that my dear partner has indeed called me an “ass”. In equal truth, a moment later, she had changed her mind or wishes to communicate something different. What amazes me is the intensity by which I hold on to and fixate on the first initial moment/statement rather than accepting the gift of the second statement/moment.

This has me considering the difficulties of time travel. In many ways in our minds, we are in a constant flux between the past and present and future. 

This is seen also in the way that a number of my massage clients begin by describing the condition of their bodies. They relate specific areas of tension and tell me something like, “this is my bad knee........which always hurts..........because of when I injured it in high school playing football”. There is always a portion of truth in their sharing this bit of physical history. Yet, the complete focus on the event in the past as the cause of the current experience significantly impacts us. It may reinforce our belief that the past experience results in conditions which offer us no sense of choices. It may lead us to create and author beliefs which ignore any current behaviors (having greater weight than we need, our diets, postures we use while lifting, etc.) which may have a greater influence on what we experience in the "now".

How does being able to think differently effect these situations ?

How would it be, being able to approach a challenge/problem as if it were a fresh and new experience ? Would, we be able to be more innovative in coping with things ? Would, we be empowered by having more hope ? Would, we be more flexible and daring without being inhibited by how we and others judge and stereotype ourselves ? 

How would our relationships be different, if we if we embraced and dealt with our partner's behaviors as if they were happening for the first time ? Would, we be more tolerant and forgiving ? Would, we be more willing to to reasonably tell them how we felt rather than "taking their inventory" and shame them with the "countless" times they have done something before ? 

It has been said that "All regret exists in the past, all anxiety exists in the future, true change, true choice and simply living exists only in the present." There are obviously things to learn from history. As well, it helps to have a future plan or have our goals in mind. A focus on the "now" is the challenge. In our culture we are constantly being pulled back and forth from the past to the future. Much like looking to the horizon in sailing, looking to both past and future may give us our bearings. Though choices are made in the moment. Our lives are experienced in the moment more than in memory or wishes. 

It takes courage. Avoiding trying to "slam on the brakes" and going with the flow of the moment is a way to feel and experience life in a more naturally fluid way. It can be a relief to let go of constantly trying to control the outcome and fully live in our experiences.

How do you think differently about this ?

Feelings or Thoughts

There are many things which can be inhibitions and obstacles to our “thinking differently” The most common is that we try to consider too many things at the same time or confuse matters by not realizing when we are truly comparing “apples” and “oranges”. Making the distinction between a variety of different elements of how we author our “stories” can give us a fresh and different view. Consider first feelings and thoughts. Each has a different nature to it. Though, we have a tendency to equate the two because they are so interrelated in our minds. We can bring clarity by contrasting and discerning between thoughts and feelings.

Feelings are frequently referred to as irrational. This is seemingly a major scenario in too many discussions between genders.

How would things be different if we acknowledge that feelings are irrational because they need no reason ? By describing feelings as being like weather, we can recognize that they are by nature organic. And in many ways uncontrollable even though the behaviors, we choose in relationship to them are. The choice would be clearer whether to choose to invest time in discussing with ourselves or others whether we should be feeling a particular feeling in any given situation. It would much like standing in the rain and yelling up at the sky that it should not be raining at that time of year. The fact that it is raining is justification enough that it should be raining. In similar fashion if you are feeling sad then there is no more need for rationalization to justify this feeling.

In contrast thoughts by their nature are the fabric (vocabulary) of our “stories”. It becomes very fruitful for us to examine and justify the way we describe and author our thoughts. This gives us opportunity for a “rewrite”. In this sense thoughts are very rational and changeable by using logic and judging whether they are reasonable or can be put into context. The energy of thoughts allows us to see ways of reframing and seeing things in a different light and “author” our reality in full choice.

Thoughts and feelings in a sense can be seen to be in different realms. Each has a specific energy about it. Whether that energy is released or flowing or blocked and static determine many events in our lives. The only thing that satisfies or allows for the release of feelings is their expression. Repression or denial only serves to bottle them up frequently resulting in their building in pressure and being released in an explosive way.

One can not satisfy the expression or release of one energy (feelings) with expression of the other (thoughts). This would be like trying to eat as much as possible to satisfy a deep thirst. So, similar no amount of rationalization of feelings, understanding why, or judgment whether they are appropriate will facilitate their release.

Feelings simply need to be felt, expressed and experienced to be allowed to naturally flow.

How do you think differently about this ?

Authentic Authorship

A place to begin in thinking differently lies in this belief, “Experience is experience, and anything, we think or say about the experience is a story. There is truth in the story that we tell with our thoughts and words. But, the story is finite and never the complete picture or the whole, absolute truth. The story (our words and thoughts) are never the experience. 

The concepts that we use in our thinking are constructs. A simple understanding of this is that they are created. Basically, we make them up. As a people, a culture and a society, we generally make contracts and agreements that some of these thoughts, concepts, stories are reality and some are fiction. Though all perceptions reflect a point of view or perspective, we by consensus hold some to be more absolute. In this we frequently forget that we choose the way we think the “facts” we use in the same way we created poetry. When we ignore the choice of the way we think then we lose our full ability to author the “stories” we use to describe and cope with our experiences in the most adaptable and creative ways.

This doesn’t mean that everything is just our own imagination. There is much in common between what individuals experience. There exists a reality outside our own thoughts and “story”. We commonly organize them and share these patterns as “laws of physics”, “facts”, “scripture”, etc. 

Yet, by practicing the awareness of accepting and owning as completely as possible that we “author” our own perceptions and interpretations we position ourselves to be in choice around the different ways that we experience our lives. This can be the beginning of “thinking differently”.

How do you think differently about this ?

Ways To Think Differently

This Blog is a response to those who have encouraged me to begin sharing through writing again. At times I am hesitant to write because I think that I am in some ways talking about the same things repeatedly. Yet, with a smile I have frequently remarked that though comedians say, “Stop me if you have heard this one.”, you never hear a singer say, “Stop me if you’ve heard this song.” So, in following in the tradition that “Whatever is expressed is impressed”,  I will attempt to write without the inhibition that I am saying things that have already been said before. Though I may need to in some ways ignore the strange look on my sweetheart wife’s face when she realizes that I am telling the same story or joke for what must seem like the “one millionth” time. It is also an acknowledgement that there are patterns in our Universe which need to be continually "sung".

I write and teach best when in dialogue. I truly enjoy conversations. So, I wholeheartedly encourage you to share your comments, thoughts and dialogue your questions in response to the words here.                    

David Mueller