We all talk to ourselves.
We do it continuously throughout the day.
You may not even notice you’re doing it, but you do.
Now I’m not talking about signs of mental illness where people have conversations with themselves. What I’m focusing on today is how we talk to ourselves, either out loud or to ourselves in our minds, about the situations we find ourselves in. I point this out because it was the subject of a recent discussion I had with a group of veterans. It went like this:
Sitting in a circle, I asked the group, “As it relates to your healing process, what was the last best question your asked yourself?
For a moment there was silence.
Then a voice asked, “Can you give us an example?”
I shook my head NO and added, “I can’t read your mind, so I don’t know what questions you ask of yourself while you are trying to heal?”
The silence continued.
Then a voice said, “Why am I so angry?”
Another quickly followed with, “What’s next to go wrong?”
Another chimed in, “Why do I take 2 steps forward and 2 steps back all the time?”
One more finally joined in with, “when am I ever going to catch a break?”
“Are these all common questions you all ask yourselves?”, I inquired.
All heads nodded.
So I pressed on.
“Just out of curiosity, do you notice a common theme to these questions?, I asked the group. “What seems to be the focus of all of your questions?
A voice chimed in and said, “we’re focused on our healing?”
I had written down the questions on a white board and asked, “Angry, things going wrong, not moving forward, and never catching a break?” “Does that sound like healing?
“You know what we mean.” A lone voice suggested.
“Apparently, I don’t, “ I said. “Healing is supposed to be about love, comfort, getting stronger, and moving forward.
I could see their troubled looks and a few red faces beginning to flush, so I began to read these quotes aloud to them.
“The longer we dwell on our misfortunes the greater is their power to harm us” - Voltaire
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” - Buddha
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking” – Marcus Aurelius
“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” - Gandhi
“Remember happiness doesn't depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely on what you think. – Dale Carnegie
“We are injured and hurt emotionally, not so much by other people or what they say and don't say, but by our own attitude and our own response.” – Maxwell Maltz
“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” - Einstein
“If you summarized all of those quotes, what’s the bottom line?
2 warriors answered at the same time by saying, “what you think is what you do.”
Exactly, I replied.
And my last best question was...
"So if we are trying to move forward, why do we focus on the past?
The silence returned, but I could see a few new smiles on the faces of healing warriors.
What was your last best question?