Shadow and light
You can't always believe what you think. As I got healthier in my mind and body, I began to notice that I really couldn't trust much of my own thinking. Many of the things I told myself became more and more suspect as I gained clarity. So how do you determine what to keep?
As I took a step back from my own thoughts, I discovered several things.
1. When a thought made me feel happy, peaceful or good in a lasting way, it was almost always for my benefit or the benefit of others. Clearly these were the thoughts to keep.
2. When a thought made me feel scared, angry, or helpless these were the thoughts that often made a difficult situation worse and crumbled under further investigation.
3. What I thought were obvious truths when put through a more objective line of questioning, (is it kind? is it helpful? is it true?) began to fall apart.
(These questions come from the Buddhist tradition)
Let's look at an example: I see myself in the reflection of a window while walking in the mall. Two thoughts pop into my head almost simultaneously, "Wow, look at me! " and "I should be skinnier." So this is a choice point. Which thought am I going to allow room to grow? Which thought leads me to greater happiness and self acceptance? In the past, honestly, I would not have even thought the first one, I would have only thought the second. But after a lot of healing, I am happy to follow the first thought and release the second. Notice I said release. Not compound, not feel bad about, not ridicule. Simply release.
Beliefs are tricky, slippery things and we don't have much control over what we think. But we DO have a lot of control over which thoughts we hold onto and allow to turn INTO beliefs.