Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Renewing Of Our Minds, Part 1

I choose living my higher purpose.

Some of you think that I'm writing and "preaching" from "on high." I'm NOT. I'm dealing with many of the same challenges as the rest of us.

One such challenge is the fact that I've grown disenchanted with my current career and lifestyle. It was what I wanted when I started on this path. It was what I wanted for many years. Until one day it . . . wasn't. At which point, I realized that I need to make a change.

Everything that I am is what has gotten me to this point. Everything that I am is what is maintaining me at this point. I need to make a change. From the inside out. Mary J. Lore, the author of Managing Thought: How Do Your Thoughts Rule Your World? made the following points:

"There is no such thing as the future. The future is an illusion. What we have is a now, followed by a now, followed by a series of nows. We do not suddenly become bankrupt. We have a series of bankrupt now moments. We do not suddenly become a great leader, a great parent, or healthy. We do not suddenly accomplish a goal or fulfill a resolution. We have a series of great leader, great parent, or healthy now moments. When we have experienced enough of these moments, goals are accomplished, bad habits are broken, and resolutions are fulfilled." Managing Thought, Amazon Kindle Location, 275-88.

"Without self-awareness, self-mastery, and being on purpose, we live each day as we did yesterday. And then a year goes by, two years, five years, and then ten, and we wonder what happened. We have the same frustrations and experiences over and over with different jobs, partners, customers, coworkers, employees, children and spouses. Essentially, we continue to make the same mistakes." Amazon Kindle Location, 289-302.

"I am not talking about developing rah-rah motivational goals, mission statements, and resolutions. I am talking about developing self-awareness, being aware of our thoughts and feelings and making subtle, yet powerful, changes that result in ideas, desires, intentions, and ultimately actions that bring us peace and inspire us." Amazon Kindle Location, 320-32.

"By managing thought, we consciously choose our futures. When we manage our thoughts, we take a proactive approach instead of being led around by our habitual attitudes and self-limiting beliefs. We are able to use our thoughts to proactively affect those very stressful episodes that we formerly reacted to defensively. In doing so, whole new vistas of options emerge and we experience very different results. Instead of wasting our time, money and energy on reactivity, we focus on what matters to us---the reality we want." Amazon Kindle Location, 358-71.

Ms. Lore's book has a chart about the power of thoughts. [Amazon Kindle Location, 581-89]. Some thoughts are inherently weak and disempowering. These thoughts are inherently disempowering because they contain self-condemnation and force:

I have to be more . . .
I need to be more . . .
I should be more . . .
I need to . . .
I should . . .
Why can't I . . . ?
What should I . . . ?
When will I . . . ?

Other thoughts are weak because they are thoughts of the (non-existent) future and are not in this moment.

I have to . . .
I need to . . .
I should . . .
I will . . .
I am going to . . .
I choose to . . .
How will I . . . ?
What will I . . . ?

Powerful thoughts help us feel joy, thankfulness and possibility in the present moment.

I am . . .
I choose . . .
What can I . . . ?
How can I . . . ?

The first step to creating a new future for ourselves is to better manage our thoughts. The first step to managing our thoughts is to take an inventory of our thoughts. Ms. Lore suggests a beginning exercise where you take a deep breath and then plug a positive attribute (for example, "focus") into the above sentences, and say the sentences out loud. ("I need to be more focused." "I choose focus." "I will focus, etc.")

Do you feel the difference in your bodily sensations with these different thoughts? I did. I've also been taking inventory of my habitual thought patterns. I've noticed that a LOT of my thoughts are framed in the "I need to . . ./I have to . . ." pattern. If you look, you'll see this thought pattern expressed in several statements near the beginning of this essay. I deliberately chose not to edit those statements. Like I said, I'm not talking about these various issues from "on high," I'm dealing with them too. [LOL!]

These "I need to . . ./I have to . . ." thought patterns lead to feeling heavy and trapped. They are part of The Overly-Responsible Person Trickbag that I'm releasing my grip on. I choose empowering thoughts.

Are you willing to pause and examine your daily thoughts?

Are you willing to take an inventory of your habitual thought patterns?

Are you willing to manage your thoughts?

Are you willing to let go of disempowering thought patterns and embrace powerful ones?

38 comments:

tasha212 said...

Khadija,

I just wanted to let you know that your blog posts never cease to amaze me for their thoughfulness. That's why I come here every day, sometimes several times a day, even when I don't comment. Thanks also for continuously adding to my ever-growing list of books-to buy. I think that this summer, I will invest in an Amazon Kindle 2 because I have run out of space on my book shelf. I will come back later once I have reflected on the questions that you asked. Just wanted to drop you a line of encouragement and appreciation.

Peace and solidarity,

Tasha

Delishmish said...

This is an intriguing area of study....one that will become more acceptable in the future. I do believe that thoughts are a dimension that we do not yet fully understand (and may never) We really are on a different plane with that....and yet, there is not one person here who cannot say that they have never turned a thought into reality. If you think you are going to have a crappy day, then the chances are you will...if you think you are going to fail an exam...you will fail an exam. It seems like a simple concept to grasp...control your thoughts and beliefs = change your life. It really does work..and yet it is so hard to implement for some. I too am always a work in progress. None of us are perfect.

How does this translate into everyday life? It literally means "THINK POSITIVE" ...control your thoughts, and immediately dispel negative images from your head (when they enter)..picture yourself doing the things you want to do, being with the high quality loving people you want in your life...in short, picture and believe in YOUR DREAMS...here is the hard part...PUT OUT of you head, those thoughts, or the thoughts of people who would tell you NOT to dream...they will say things like.."there are no jobs" or "we are in a recession"....always live as though you are in a time of plenty...that does not mean filling your closet with the clothes of designers who are NOT thinking about YOU..rather, what it means is expanding your mind, and being open to all the possibilities..no matter what you hear around you...maintain the highest dreams for yourself..no matter how unattainable they MAY seem. Now I am not saying that you are going to be Miss America...but the sky really is the limit..as women, as beautiful black women (because that is how we should all be looking at ourselves, and doing all within our power to be OUR personal best)

There are those negative people who systematically will try to refute all you believe about yourself (from what I understand, there are several blogs wholly dedicated to these kinds of blogs..and attemoting to dispel every single word said here) I would heartily suggest not even engaging these individuals..who cares what they say really?...it is what YOU believe about yourself that you can turn into reality. Not what anyone thinks you can, should or are capable of doing. In fact, I would heartily suggest these folk cultivate wonderful, positive dreams for themselves....There is enough fo rall of us.

Anyhoo (:-)) Once you realize this power, it is really a bit overwhelming...so as the popular (and very wise) refrain goes..."be careful what you wish for"...frame your thoughts well Ladies...and surround yourself with those who think well of you because thoughts have power.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Powerful, Khadija, powerful. I will buy the book. Thank you; I am glad I read this.

Evia said...

Hey Khadija, I SALUTE you to the max for this post!! You are giving bw the blueprint AND the tools. I had to come off my commenting hiatus to tell you that. When bw DO ***decide*** to change their thoughts to thoughts that promote themselves "FIRST AND FOREMOST," then they WILL (not just 'can') change their lives. It's all about making that decision and never looking back. This is where it's at because as long as someone else can control your thoughts, they've got you right where they want you. Thinking--at some level-precedes ALL actions. The "right" type of thinking is critical.

I'm determined that I will PUSH for AA women (and similar others) to change their thinking-at EVERY obvious opportunity I get. It's going to take ALL conscious and even semi-conscious bw virtually taking a vow to do that.

I was at a book club meeting on Sunday where we (about 15 of us, ages 32-85) were discussing a book where a bw author was complaining about all of the usual suspects (shortage of "good" bm, fear of contracting HIV, weight issues, the baby-daddybabymomma thing, etc.). And did I say FEAR of contacting HIV? LOL! I am often a spectator but sometimes a participant at various talk-sessions like this. The level of drivel voiced at some of these sessions is amazing, and sometimes I just get tired and I don't say much. I was rested the other day, so that was not the case.

All of these bw were college graduates and several of them had multiple degrees, Ph.Ds, one MD, and on and on. Among them, there were some who are quite well-travelled, sit on the boards of regional conferences, belong to all of the "right" sororities and clubs, have lovely homes, are church members, have relatively high incomes, & yadda-yadda. These were the so-called leadership class of AA women. You know the type. Yet, there they were complaining about the same old rot. SMH.

Stagnant THINKING! This is THE main reason why so many AA women are stuck and dying. And the other key reason why this continues is because those of us who could raise the level of consciousness among AA women often lack the COURAGE and the WILL to do it. There are very few of us who dare to raise the level of consciousness among bw. So KUDOS to you, Khadija, for this post. I am happy to say that I'm encountering (online and offline) more and more bw who are at the cusp of the RISE level of our evolution. Not many, but some. They were not, however, at that book club meeting. LOL!

About 65% of these women (at the book club meeting) are not married (and an averagely decent marriage DOES carry significant emotional, financial & other benefits). Y'all unmarried bw have to trust me on that and this is why even homosexuals are trying to get their relationships sanctioned by the government. BENEFITS!

Anyway, there this leadership class of bw were--***complaining*** about the lack of an emotional life with a good man and the lack of sex in their lives (because thankfully these women are smart enough to screen out the possible HIV carriers). When I pointed out that there IS NOT a shortage of "good" men in the world, there was that brief silence that often happens to a bw when she dares to proclaim that she is not a "nothing but a bm" devotee. Some of these women didn't know my husband is white, or that my ex is a Nigerian, so I flatly stated it and pointed out that I still encounter AA women who refuse to consider wm and other men as possible mates. Heck, some AA women won't even consider non-AA bm as possible mates!

By now, I'm used to folks trying to pounce on lil ole heretical me--LOL!--so I'm not fazed. I was determined that I was going to raise the level of THINKING there even if I got filleted. LOL! So I stressed that the MAIN reason that HIV-AIDS is the biggest killer of bw between the ages of 25-44 is because the bulk of these women are among the "nothing but a bm" type and they're sexing ex-con bm AND bm on the down low AND bm who have harems and some of these bm are in all 3 categories. Well DUH! LOL!

3 of the bw there admitted that they would only mate with an AA man--due to history and the need to uplift the AA community. 2 of these said they've been asked out by wm, but refused to date them. One bw said she just loves the 'swagger' of bm and that only a bm can understand a bw. A couple of the other women said they would date wm and others but don't get approached by them. I was particularly disheartened to hear the 32 year old bw (whose looks are the type many bm like:light-skinned, slim, euro-featured) say that she has a lot to offer a good man and will only offer it to a "brotha" because AA men need a good woman by their side. SMH Yet this younger woman was complaining the loudest about how she and her girlfriends encounter so many crappy bm. LAWDY!

Anyway, I stressed that bw must position themselves mentally, emotionally, physically, and intellectually to be in the midst of Quality men of ALL cultures and races. I pointed out that I'm comfortable crossing racial and cultural lines to access quality in ANY area of my life and I've done that all of my adult life--because my THOUGHTS make me comfortable in doing that.

As you know, in any group where there are a bunch of bw, some of them are way more verbally aggressive than the others. Two of the bw in this book club are very verbally aggressive and came after me, but I'm fairly new to this book club and these two don't know me well. I can talk too. LOL! So I shoved them aside and continued. When they saw that I was not going to be silenced, they backed down.

Interestingly enough, at the end of the meeting, the 32-year old came to me and told me that my ability to cross cultural and racial lines really inspired her.

This is why some of us MUST have the COURAGE to ***show*** ourselves and try to jump the metaphorical fence even if we sometimes get caught on the barbed wire a few times. The bulk of AA women have got to change their THINKING about how best to get over that fence--in ALL areas of life--and then they've got to go for it--with all of their might. And others of us must support them. My life is proof that life is quite good on the other side of the fence. I notice everyday that I don't have the concerns that most bw I encounter have. If I could get over the fence to a 'living well' life, the bulk of AA women can do it too. The only difference is in the THOUGHTS. Remaining in a situation where I and my children could be preyed on was not even something I would have even considered doing. It simply wasn't an option. I would rather have died trying to get over that fence. They would have found my body at the fence, y'all, because I would have kept trying.

So, it doesn't matter if some of y'all get stuck by the barbs on the fence a few times; you MUST continue doing the right PLANNING and trying. And you WILL eventually succeed.

Khadija said...

Hello there, Tasha!

Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I truly appreciate it.

A verse in the Quran mentions that God will NOT change the condition of a people until they change what is in their own hearts. I've come to see with my own 2 eyes that this verse is TRUE.
_______________

Hello there, Delishmish!

Yes, the area of "consciousness" is a fascinating one. And it's a VERY difficult process to get at. I've come to see how similar we humans are to the animals with so many of our instinctual, habitual, herd-like responses. It's VERY difficult to pull oneself OUT of the realm of instinctual, non-deliberate, non-conscious responses to stimuli.

I praise God that unlike the animals who only have instinct to shape their actions, we DO have the ability to make conscious, deliberate choices to guide our thoughts. These thoughts in turn guide our actions; which in turn guide the course of our lives.
_________________

Hello there, PioneerValleyWoman!

Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I truly appreciate it.
__________________

Hello there, Evia!

Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I truly appreciate it.

For the most part, we tinker and tamper with only the surfaces of things. We exchange one surface attribute for another. Which is why the essence of our circumstances remains the same. I want true CHANGE (transformation), not exchange.

And the stagnant thinking that you mentioned (which is prevalent among AA women) CAN'T and WON'T produce transformation of our circumstances.

Once I became disgruntled with my own circumstances, I started looking for the spiritual and emotional tools to help me make deep, enduring changes.

I like the way one Sufi shaykh (sufis are Muslim mystics) phrased it: "spiritual technology."You mentioned, "3 of the bw there admitted that they would only mate with an AA man--due to history and the need to uplift the AA community. 2 of these said they've been asked out by wm, but refused to date them. One bw said she just loves the 'swagger' of bm and that only a bm can understand a bw. A couple of the other women said they would date wm and others but don't get approached by them. I was particularly disheartened to hear the 32 year old bw (whose looks are the type many bm like:light-skinned, slim, euro-featured) say that she has a lot to offer a good man and will only offer it to a "brotha" because AA men need a good woman by their side. SMH Yet this younger woman was complaining the loudest about how she and her girlfriends encounter so many crappy bm. LAWDY!"Lord have mercy. Yet another example of how our leadership class is as confused as those of us who are "officially" down and out!You said, "This is why some of us MUST have the COURAGE to ***show*** ourselves and try to jump the metaphorical fence even if we sometimes get caught on the barbed wire a few times. The bulk of AA women have got to change their THINKING about how best to get over that fence--in ALL areas of life--and then they've got to go for it--with all of their might. And others of us must support them."PREACH!Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I came across this article from 2007. It's still very relevent though. In it an expert on generational poverty is explaining the differences between the perpetually poor and perpetually wealthy. She mentions differences between speech patterns and within relationships ( usually those who are generationally poor place their relationships with people above institutions in almost every case). It also shatters previous assumptions and stereotypes about the working poor. For example, their poverty is not the result of laziness or even lack of drive. The behaviors that cause generational poverty more subtle. Anyway, it's an interesting read that inadvertently tells you what not to do if one wants to escape the cycle of poverty.

Here's the article:
http://thedartmouth.com/2007/11/12/news/poverty/

energize said...

Hi Khadija,

Great reminder on the importance of our thought process! During my period of transition or reflection,
I had to learn to trust that tiny little voice for decision making, not the crazy voice, but the one called intuition that I had suppressed over the years due to listening to other folk who could less about my well being and peace of mind. It works.

I can't count the times that I have said and heard from other women, "something told me not to buy, eat, date or marry (fill in the blank) and I did it anyway".

What I also noticed people get angry when you start setting boundaries and taking care of yourself. I'm sure you are aware of that esp. with a bw empowerment blog. So, I must be doing something right.

roslynholcomb said...

This is a very crucial part of self-reflection, introspection and self-analysis. Without working through this and changing one's thought patterns, there can be no real change. It's an issue we confront all the time in social services. Getting people to change the way they think from learned helplessness to empowered.

My mama was not an educated woman, but she was deeply spiritual, learned and wise. She always taught us about the power of thought, of the way our own thoughts could control the world we lived in. It's only when I got away from this mindset that I got in trouble. It's so easy to let the 'Nattering nabobs of negativism,' in.

I've learned though in my quest to elevate my own consciousness that I can literally measure my progress by the way toxic people literally fall away. People ask me all the time how I got rid of toxic people. Actually, I didn't do anything. As I got better, people of that nature wanted nothing to do with me. When you elevate your thought patterns and truly eliminate negativity, those with a negative spirit can't stand to be around you. Much in the way an addict panics when his family attends Al-Anon meetings. When the family gets better and stops enabling him, he either has to get clean, or get the heck away from them. There is no middle grown. Sick people can't be around healthy people.

Anonymous said...

Hi Khadija,
I have been reading your blogs for a while now and this is my first post. I really enjoy learning about black women empowerment and how to make better choices in my life. This blog came at the right time for me because I am looking for ways to improve certain circumstances in my life. Keep up the good work, and I will definitely check out the book that you had mentioned in this blog. Thanks!

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hey there Khadija!

Thanks for this post!

One reason why I think that blog forums like ours can be intimidating for so many is that many people DON'T WANT TO think deeply about anything.

So many just want to react emotionally to information and we are challenging women to think through the information that is being offered.

Many become deeply offended when we actually examine the thoughts that they are presenting to us in these discussions. I suppose they aren't used to that.

I wrote a post last year, "The Mind: Weapon of Mass Destruction", and there wasn't much group discussion at that time. I don't think that many readers of my blog forum had given a lot of thought to what I was sharing in that post...about HOW the mind becomes a weapon...protecting the mind...shaping the mind...cultivating the mind...stretching the mind...igniting the mind.

I do believe VERY strongly that black women must examine their thoughts, their actions, their priorities, their choices, their "relationship contracts" with family and friends and men...

My think tank has always focused on introspection because I think there are so many solutions available to black women when they are willing to MAKE CHANGES in how they think and how they proceed through life.

I want to think more about the "I need to" and "I have to" thoughts.

Hmmmm.

On the surface, I feel that the "I need to..." and "I have to..." statements can be valuable IF they are affirmations of accountability.

I also believe that "need to" and "have to" statements also articulate mandates and I am fully supportive of black women establishing mandates.

You have offered another angle to consider.

This post is so valuable. I am so happy to see the comments!

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa

L.N. said...

Thank you again! Please keep bringing it! As a person looking for employment, your blog offers nourishment to approach the job search w/ the right frame of mind. For example:

1. I will not donate to nonprofits that are only hiring recent grads who have private employment, but are asked by the private employer to take a pay cut (paid by the pvt employer) and work for the nonprofit for a year. Times are tough for many, but I figure those nonproftis can get the $ they need from their 1-year employees. This applies to a donation request I tossed yesterday, as well as future requests.

2. I will continue to attend conferences in my area of interest, and aim for discounts. So far, it has worked! I have also semi-crashed a conference or two.

3. Though it may seem counterintuitive, it is empowering to realize that "nobody owes you anything." It fosters gratitude and encourages hard work.

When taking a walk/jog (time to get back to that!) I would think, "my future is beyond those trees/that building/those clouds" to encourage faith in the future. For some, faith in a higher power is sufficient, but for me, faith in God is unwavering, but faith in myself and other people is a challenge.

Khadija said...

Hello there, Anonymous!

I'll check out the article, but there really IS a LOT of laziness and trifling behavior among the Black poor and underclass. I see it everyday at work. The non-productive thought/speech patterns are overlaid on top of a layer of laziness.
__________

Hello there, Energize!

What you're pointing out about intuition is very important. So many times, BW want to play like they are "shocked, shocked I say" by some negativity that bites them in the butt. The truth is usually that they KNEW there was a looming problem, but chose to engage in the magical thinking that the problem would go away.
__________________

Hello there, Roslyn!

You're correct. There's usually a static equilibrium involved in entrenched negative situations. What so many BW fail/refuse to recognize that whatever they're doing (or not doing) is helping to keep these sorts of situations going. It's so much more comforting to play victim.

And yes, sometimes we really ARE victimized. But if we're honest, most of us will have to admit that we did NOT make the "vampire" work hard to get us!

ANY change for the better by any of the participants will upset those kinds of negative balances.
_________________

Hello there, Anonymous!

You're welcome! Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I truly appreciate it.
__________________

Hello there, Lisa!

You're welcome!

About the "I need to" and "I have to" thoughts: They can be useful up...to...a...point. And for certain types of people. And in certain, specific circumstances.

It's very similar to anger. These sorts of thoughts and anger both elicit "crack the whip on yourself and DO something" sorts of feelings.

The "I need to/have to" thoughts are a double-edged sword. They're useful for people who aren't handling their business. In small doses they're useful for people who normally DO effectively handle their business. But they become oppressive and disempowering if they are the predominant theme of one's thoughts.

About the mass resistance to deep thought: I'll say it the blunt way. AA culture has become quite savage. We lift up and glorify BASE, PRIMAL instincts and responses. Contemplation about anything is NOT valued among us; so most of us have not been raised to know how to think anything through.

We don't value or understand the concept of reason. Instead, we value "feelings" which we mislabel as "passion." It's not passion. It's more like Pavlov's dogs who were trained to salivate on cue.
_________________

Hello there, L.N.!

You're welcome! Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I truly appreciate it.

You said, "Though it may seem counterintuitive, it is empowering to realize that "nobody owes you anything." It fosters gratitude and encourages hard work."

This is true. This realization also frees one from the mental chains of carrying around irrational resentment of other people.Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Selena said...

Y'all unmarried bw have to trust me on that and this is why even homosexuals are trying to get their relationships sanctioned by the government. BENEFITS!


This is one of the most powerful statements yet!!

Look If gay people can literally put their neck on the line like this, KNOW the importance of marriage why can't or won't most of us?

Khadija said...

Hello there, Selena!

You asked, "Look If gay people can literally put their neck on the line like this, KNOW the importance of marriage why can't or won't most of us?"This mass failure of common sense (and HUMAN norms---NO previous collective has approved of OOW) began when masses of BW started taking BM's sex pickup lines to heart: "We don't need a piece of paper from da White man to validate our relationship..."

The problem intesified when masses of BW stopped applying social sanctions to other BW who had OOW: "It's 'harsh' and 'unfair' to shun women/girls who have OOW. Wouldn't it be better to 'teach' them?" All the while refusing to understand that you 'teach' people by enforcing negative consequences for dysfunctional behavior.

Embracing these 2 attitudes is how we collectively fell into the abyss.
Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Halima said...

Evia
I was determined that I was going to raise the level of THINKING there even if I got filleted. LOL!


I like the way you put it Evia because that is exactly what it is all about; raising the level of thinking.

When bw get together, it is as if they collude to keep the discussions at a level where they remain ‘in the box’; within the perimeters allowed them by the BC and definitely not breaking out of it in any radical way.

All one has to do is break this unspoken agreement and allow bw thoughts to be able 'go there' and that is often all that is necessary particularly to rescue those who would be rescued.

constructed barriers.

supremeultimate said...

Khadija, this is the Wisdom Fire you posted. This is the crux of all things. Without changing our thought patterns (which will lead to changed speech patterns) I believe that most of the ideas, the great ideas, you teach CANNOT be carried out. Khadija, most people operate on the "hindering" (really don't want to say bad or negative) thoughts of the mind, this is evident to me in the fact that, this, truly a foundation post for all that you have presented on this blog and after three days there are only 15 comments prior to mine. Why? You are giving us all the medicine we need and there are few comments in comparison to many of your other post.

@ Rev. Lisa you said "So many just want to react emotionally to information and we are challenging women to think through the information that is being offered." Yes, and to think deeply about our own minds leaves very little to react to but will cause us to act and it seems people flee from this. Why?

@ DelishMish, You said "How does this translate into everyday life? It literally means "THINK POSITIVE" ...control your thoughts, and immediately dispel negative images from your head (when they enter)..."
I am not so sure it's that easy to dispel negative images. I am of the thought pattern that its normal and natural for negative images to arise, since negative is the twin sibling of positive. It seems to me the more you resist the negative thought causes you to keep it in a holding pattern while attempting to dispel it. Maybe we can work on allowing the negative to come in its natural state, but, not allowing it to linger letting the thought pass as quickly as it enters. This is the way of Bushido.

Guidance,

Ensayn

Halima said...

oops!

rescued from these contructed barriers!

LISA VAZQUEZ said...

Hey Khadija!

Thanks for continuing this rich dialogue!

Do you mind if I add the link below provided by Anonymous 9:12 AM to the current discussion about the new movie that is occurring at my blog forum?

http://thedartmouth.com/2007/11/12/news/poverty/

I think it pertains to what we are discussing and wanted to ask your permission to refer to it.

You said:
"I'll check out the article, but there really IS a LOT of laziness and trifling behavior among the Black poor and underclass."Whenever anyone mentions this, then they are accused of being "classist". I suppose we are all supposed to PRETEND not to notice these dysfunctional mindsets in order to prove how "down with our peeps" we are.

Energize is right in observing:
"What I also noticed people get angry when you start setting boundaries and taking care of yourself."There are so many who cop attitudes when blog hosts ENFORCE rules. Someone came to this blog just last week trying to criticize Gina for establishing and following rules at her OWN blog forum! Imagine that. *LOL* How dare her!

I agree with Rosalyn's point that:
"When you elevate your thought patterns and truly eliminate negativity, those with a negative spirit can't stand to be around you."I am glad that Halima mentioned the pattern of black women to "stay" within what's permissible thinking according to black community constructs/expectations. There are women who get VERY hostile if a black person expresses a mindset that has not been reinforced by the black masses.

I hope that my blog forum crushes all of that. I am certain that yours does!!

{raised black fist}

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa

Khadija said...

Hello there, SupremeUltimate/Ensayn/Victor!

Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I truly appreciate it.

Actually, with the exception of the regular commenters such as yourself, I'm surprised that anybody commented on this post! LOL! This is strange, unfamiliar, and therefore scary stuff for most Black folks. Pausing to really take stock of ourselves is deeply frightening to the vast majority of our people. [And I'm going to drive some audience members away by staying on this particular topic for a minute. LOL!]

It's so much more comfortable to focus on the external. This is why the conversation is starting to shift back to external stuff. Which I'll cooperate with, up to a point; and then I'll have to redirect it back to the post's topic.

Our general resistance to this sort of self-examination also ties into something that I mentioned during the Inner Slum: Noise Pollution post---this dread of self-examination is the same reason why Blacks run from silence and why we keep our living environments so filled with noise. Silence forces us to take a good look at ourselves. We DON'T want to do that.

Victor, I think you're right about how counterproductive it is to "fight" negative thoughts. I find that actively "fighting" such thoughts leaves me even more deeply enmeshed in them. It feels that "fighting" such thoughts only feeds more of my mental energy into them.

I haven't finished Ms. Lore's book, but she has mentioned another way: Inwardly telling your mind "Thanks for sharing that" and letting the unhelpful thought slip away, as you move on to a more empowering thought.

So far, this has felt more effective to me. I see my nonproductive thoughts as turds slipping away down the toilet bowl. Inwardly, I passively watch them slip away. I don't "fight" them; fighting them means remaining in contact with them. In order to fight somebody/something, you typically have to put your hands on them/it.
____________________

Hello there, Lisa!

Thank you for your kind words about the blog. I truly appreciate it. You're one of the blog hosts that I'm imitating.

{raised black glove salute back at 'cha}

Feel free to post the link submitted by Anonymous. I read the article. I feel that it's ridiculous and yet another example of excuse-making.

Yes, there are a number of behaviors that keep our collective NEGATIVE equilibrium in place: (1) making excuses for dysfunction; (2) self-appointed "thought police" who verbally abuse any BW who mentally steps out of "our" place; (3) self-censoring by many BW who know better (the same as for those living in dictatorships); etc.

The moment that we stop playing our assigned part in this negative balance, it starts to fall. As it should.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

tasha212 said...

Khadija,

You asked:

Are you willing to pause and examine your daily thoughts?

My response:

It is very difficult to examine your thoughts. This requires conscious effort. I suspect that that is why many of us fail to do so. I am an introspective person. So I think about things very deeply. BUT, most of my thoughts consist of what I am going to do in the future. Those "I will" thoughts that you were referring to. I have been working on bringing my thoughts to the present and turn these "I will" thoughts to "I am" thoughts.

You asked:

Are you willing to take an inventory of your habitual thought patterns?
Are you willing to manage your thoughts?

I think that eveything begins in the mind. All speech as well as actions begin with a thought. Unfortunately, African American culture as it stands today is anti-thought, anti-intellectual. I notice this even among those who are supposed to be educated, who are supposed to know better. It seems that we as individuals and as a collective like symbolic progress, the kind that doesn't require real work or conscious effort. And we do this to our detriment.

As for me, I have decided to take stock of those thoughts that are holding me back. In the past, I let negativity and self-defeating thoughts take over. I don't think that negative thoughts in and of themselves are the problem, but I think as in everything in life, there must be balance. When I stopped letting the negative thoughts take over, I began to see really good things happening in my life. I realize also that success is achieved in stages. It is the small steps that one takes toward success that leads to our dreams coming true. And the most important "little" step is to change our thought patterns.

You said:

Are you willing to let go of disempowering thought patterns and embrace powerful ones?

Yes, I am definitely willing to let go of disempowering thoughts. I like the sound of

I am . . .
I choose . . .
What can I . . . ?
How can I . . . ?

These are the types of thoughts I cultivate today more often than I ever have.

Peace and solidarity,

Tasha

Khadija said...

Hello there, Tasha!

Good for you that you're taking stock of and managing your thoughts! {raised black glove salute}This is a very difficult and subtle process. It's the mental equivalent of performing aikido throws, which are very subtle and difficult because of the precision that is necessary.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

This is deep and challenging as always. I read it and am still processing. I know that I've been told I have had a negative mindset. Despite my reading Louise Hay and a doing lots of Affirmations I was still circling. But there have been things I wasn't willing to change and now that I've had a lot more time to reflect - or just being tired of fighting them - I'm taking care of them.

I went back to the gym and exercised for a few weeks - then got really sick. Now I feel out of sorts from not exercising and need to go back. The interruption has been jarring.

I've also changed my eating habits and have noticed my clothes are looser. There is progress and I've had to reflect on focusing on NOW and not "oh wow how long is this gonna take to fix it all".

So I'll keep returning to this post to push it in a little deeper bit by bit.

enlightened said...

Hey Khadija!

You are on point with this post. I have exercised positive thought and GOTTEN what I wanted several times in my life. When I moved to the city I currently lived in, I looked at a building downtown and said to myself OUT LOUD "I'm going to work there and have an awesome job." About 6 months later, I got a job in that building and its awesome. I didn't hem and haw...I put the words out there and let God do his/her thing.

I have multiple examples of times I've done this. I'm moving again this summer and I have already found the apartment I want to live in and I am planning the next few months as if that is my residence. LOL! I will certainly come back and report to you how it turns out.

Its strange though...as many times as I have spoken things into existence...I still get afraid to ask for my heart's deepest desires because I don't know if I could take it not happening! LOL! Nevermind that I have had success with this on several occasions...I still try to stop myself from asking for more.

But after reading this post and your other blogs, I WILL stop talking myself out of my heart's desires.

-Enlightened

Khadija said...

Everyone:

Let's NOT use the "positive" thinking label to discuss this topic. There's a reason why I'm framing this issues in terms of empowering/disempowering thought. Here's why:

I know for myself that my mind rejects and rebels against proclaimed "positive thoughts," affirmations and similar such stuff. My mind rejects these sorts of things because they are FAKED and FORCED. My mind also tends to reject things that have any hint of dishonesty attached to them. And that's how faked, forced, "rah-rah" "positive thought" cheerleading feels to me. Dishonest.

Also, the author specifically said that she was NOT talking about such things, as I quoted in the post. Ms. Lore said:

"I am not talking about developing rah-rah motivational goals, mission statements, and resolutions. I am talking about developing self-awareness, being aware of our thoughts and feelings and making subtle, yet powerful, changes that result in ideas, desires, intentions, and ultimately actions that bring us peace and inspire us."

It seems to me that what she's suggesting in the passages I quoted is much more SUBTLE, GENTLE, and therefore REAL. She's talking about GENTLY reframing the thoughts that we're already having into a more empowering format. NOT "rah-rah" forced mental cheerleading.Now, the book does go on to discuss "pruning" diseased and destructive thoughts from our minds. But I haven't gotten to that part yet. LOL!

Peace and blessings,
Khadija

Khadija said...

Hello there, Faith!

You said, "This is deep and challenging as always. I read it and am still processing. I know that I've been told I have had a negative mindset."

I've heard this too. We should carefully scrutinize whoever it is that's telling us this. AAs have a cultural preference for magical thinking. Anyone among us who engages in logical, rational, linear thought will be called "negative."You said, "Despite my reading Louise Hay and a doing lots of Affirmations I was still circling."

You might have been circling for the same reasons I tend to "circle" with such materials and suggestions---because they feel FAKED and FORCED to me. And so my mind rejects this kind of stuff. Meanwhile, these sorts of things can and do work for others.You said, "But there have been things I wasn't willing to change and now that I've had a lot more time to reflect - or just being tired of fighting them - I'm taking care of them....I've also changed my eating habits and have noticed my clothes are looser. There is progress and I've had to reflect on focusing on NOW and not "oh wow how long is this gonna take to fix it all". "

Good for you! I'm still taking a break from exercising. I've decided to NOT "crack the whip" on myself for the past few weeks. I'll get back to doing P90X. Just not now.______________________

Hello there, Enlightened!

You said, "You are on point with this post. I have exercised positive thought and GOTTEN what I wanted several times in my life. When I moved to the city I currently lived in, I looked at a building downtown and said to myself OUT LOUD "I'm going to work there and have an awesome job." About 6 months later, I got a job in that building and its awesome. I didn't hem and haw...I put the words out there and let God do his/her thing."

{raised fist salute}

I look forward to hearing how it all works out with the apartment. *Smile*

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Enlightened said...

Ah! Duly noted Khadija!

There is absolutely a difference between what you're talking about and the "positive thinking" materials out there (although if your goals are realistic and you put in some work, positive thinking can be successful). I honestly have never paid attention to my thoughts the way that author discusses, though. I will certainly start though!

As usual, thank you for this post!

Lorraine said...

Thanks for this post Khadija. It definitely provokes one to do some serious introspection.

Aphrodite said...

Hello Khadija,


Thanks for another awesome post!


I will say that I do tend to be more future oriented rather than grounded in the now. I am always working towards some goals off in the future.

"I will . . .
I am going to . . ."


Are two of my most predominant ways of thinking.


I am not negative towards others, but I can beat myself up pretty badly.



I have been told that I can be hard on myself and I don't know how to take that sometimes because I always want to be better and I don't know if the person telling me that wants me to lower my expectations in a bad way (after so much bad advice in my life from others) or if they actually know what they are talking about.


I am always about some kind of improvement, but there are moments of

am I smart/talented enough?
can I pull this off?

I do sometimes have the I shoulds in that I think I should be doing more, faster, better, - hence the people who say I am hard on myself.


I would love to learn to better manage my thought and be able to choose really empowering ones. :)

Anonymous said...

@Lisa Vasquez
Sure, you can reference the article.

Khadija said...

Hello there, Enlightened!

You're welcome!
_________________

Hello there, Lorraine!

You're welcome!
_________________

Hello there, Aphrodite!

You said, "I am always about some kind of improvement, but there are moments of

am I smart/talented enough?
can I pull this off?

I do sometimes have the I shoulds in that I think I should be doing more, faster, better, - hence the people who say I am hard on myself."
I believe that the quest for self-improvement is generally a good one, but NOT if it is conducted in a manner that causes you to doubt your talents and skills.

Here's my 2 cents:

DON'T doubt your talents and skills! OF COURSE, you're smart and talented enough to do _______! The question is: Is it worth it to you to make the adjustments/sacrifices that are necessary to do _______________.

For BW like us, it's more a matter of the endeavor's cost/benefit ratio than talent and smarts! We have the talent and smarts to be able to do all sorts of things. It's just that not everything is worth the effort involved.

For a trivial example, a while back I was intrigued by the idea of learning how to do "speed math" in my head (without needing pencil and paper). I like brain-exercising stuff like that. The same way I like memory-improvement systems.

I like these things enough to play with these skills every once in a while. I DON'T like it enough to make it worthwhile for me to invest the energy in mastering these skills.

When I no longer have to work a job and have more free time on my hands, then the cost/benefit ratio of doing the work to master these things might change.
Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

More from the book:

"When some individuals realize that they create their own reality, they become keenly aware of their counterproductive and even destructive thoughts. This often leads to a fear of their negative thoughts. Many become afraid that, if they have a negative thought or idea, they will create that reality.

So they try to repress or ignore their negative thoughts and focus on the positive ones. This practice does not eliminate negative thoughts. Instead, another layer is added to our onion. It actually strengthens our attachment to the very thoughts we seek to eliminate.

You can relax. If you are conscious of negative thoughts, they do not cause a problem. When you are aware of what they are---just thoughts---then you are observing the thoughts. You are not identifying with them. When you are aware of negative thoughts and label them as such, they lose their power over you. They are well on their way out." Amazon Location, 992-1004.

"It is the thoughts we hold without awareness and at unconscious levels that cause problems. This is why self-awareness is key. Being curious about our thoughts, rather than judgmental, helps us to be mindful. Being mindful of our thoughts, as well as our reactions and actions, brings about significant results, as opposed to the mediocre results we achieve when we live each moment unconsciously through force of habit." Amazon Location, 1005-14.
__________________

I haven't gotten to the section about "pruning" destructive and diseased thoughts yet. LOL!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

JaliliMaster said...

I haven't commented on this post yet as I'm still taking it all in. I do however, concur with this:



"I believe that the quest for self-improvement is generally a good one, but NOT if it is conducted in a manner that causes you to doubt your talents and skills.

Here's my 2 cents:

DON'T doubt your talents and skills! OF COURSE, you're smart and talented enough to do _______! The question is: Is it worth it to you to make the adjustments/sacrifices that are necessary to do _______________.

For BW like us, it's more a matter of the endeavor's cost/benefit ratio than talent and smarts! We have the talent and smarts to be able to do all sorts of things. It's just that not everything is worth the effort involved."

SistaOpinion said...

This is maybe my second time to your blog and I just ordered this book without even finishing the entry. I already know that my thoughts are what's been holding me back...and I feel like I've tried just about everything. Recently I woke up in the middle of the night with my negative mental tape echoing in my head and I realized: How can I fight this if it's even happening in my sleep?

I'm in my 40s, I'm nowhere near where I wanted to be at this age, and I feel like time is running out. (Not the biological clock...more like my overall life satisfaction clock.) I need to take some drastic action. So thanks.

Khadija said...

Hello there, SistaOpinion!

You said, "I feel like time is running out. (Not the biological clock...more like my overall life satisfaction clock.) I need to take some drastic action. So thanks."

You're welcome! I hope you find the book as helpful as I've found it to be for me. I know that "time is running out" feeling. I'm amazed and horrified every time I remember that I actually know people my age who are now DEAD. Sometimes, I still can't quite believe they're gone. {sigh}

Onward and forward to self-actualization!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Anonymous said...

Hello,


I agree that we should take inventory of what we think, and learn to manage our thoughts. It can mean the difference between life or death for us. I wonder why it has become so popular for us to to act first then think it over later?

Aphrodite said...

Thank you so much Khadija for your feedback! I really appreciate it.


I also wanted to commend you on taking away the "pie in the sky" element away from this and making it more practical and accessible.

I know I had mentioned previously that when I was going through a New Age-y phase and was into everything positive thinking and affirmations - the whole nine. And as you mentioned before sometimes people can take something helpful and plug it into a flawed belief/value system and end up doing damage.

Southland Diva said...

Fabulous post!!!

I totally feel you on the disenchantment with your employment. Six months ago I was employed in a job which, quite frankly, was the most toxic environment I have ever experienced; sadly I remained in the situation for nearly three years. Last September, after enduring 8 months of sleeplessness, loss of appetite, migraines, skin rashes, weight loss (I was not that big to start with), and 1 panic attack, I realized I had to step away.

While trying to calm myself during the panic attack, I managed to get quiet enough to feel/hear the words 'You don't have to do this'. This was not thought. This was communication. The power of this soul-communication gave me the confidence to step out on faith.

I am a single, so taking care of me falls on me. I have always desired financial security above all things (out of fear) and I was very secure with this job. But at this point in my life, I understood I was either going to have a stroke (serious family history) or heart attack due to the stress. Long story short....I left.

Did I (do I) have fearful thoughts about my finances? Yes. Do I try to bury them or hide from them? No. They are just thoughts, not truth! I have read a lot on the subject of consciousness, self, and thought; what I have learned is, thoughts are generated by the story-telling ego. This ability of our 'beautiful mind' is not a bad thing in and of itself. The ego helps you orient yourself in the physical world. The judgemental and critical nature of our thoughts creates the problem. Another issue is the habitual nature of our thoughts. We entertain the same thoughts over and over again (habit of mind) and the brute repetition convinces us the thoughts are real because they occur so often. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Rather than thinking only positive happy thoughts(a disconnection one cannot maintain), I focus on my intention. As negative, fearful thoughts arise, I notice them (witness) and let them go. I am not the thought.

My daily practice is about staying in the present; letting go of attachments, expections, the stories I have told myself about what I should have, the stories the larger society tells me about what I should want; and being compassionate towards myself and everyonge else.

Peace,

Khadija said...

Hello there, Anonymous!

I don't understand the current Black popular culture decision to devalue thought. I don't get it.
____________________

Hello there, Aphrodite!

You're welcome! And THANK YOU for your participation. You've raised the level of the discussions here with your input.
_____________________

Hello there, Southland Diva!

Thank you for your kind words about the post. I truly appreciate it.

You said, "I totally feel you on the disenchantment with your employment. Six months ago I was employed in a job which, quite frankly, was the most toxic environment I have ever experienced; sadly I remained in the situation for nearly three years. Last September, after enduring 8 months of sleeplessness, loss of appetite, migraines, skin rashes, weight loss (I was not that big to start with), and 1 panic attack, I realized I had to step away. "

Lord have mercy.You said, "I am a single, so taking care of me falls on me. I have always desired financial security above all things (out of fear) and I was very secure with this job. But at this point in my life, I understood I was either going to have a stroke (serious family history) or heart attack due to the stress. Long story short....I left."

I praise God that you saved your own life by leaving.You said, "Another issue is the habitual nature of our thoughts. We entertain the same thoughts over and over again (habit of mind) and the brute repetition convinces us the thoughts are real because they occur so often. Nothing could be further from the truth!"

I agree. It's always been fascinating to me how each paradigm shift that I've had feels equally "real" at the time I experience it. For example, my view of the world when I was a teenager was "real" to me at the time. As an adult, I can see (what I perceive to be) the gaps and flaws in what I believed was "real" as an adolescent.

If nothing else, I think that this was the value of The Matrix movies. To point out the inherent gaps between perception and reality.

There are also "observer effects" involved in mindfulness---how the very act of paying attention to our thoughts subtly changes and guides them in a different direction.
You said, "Rather than thinking only positive happy thoughts(a disconnection one cannot maintain)..."

Yes, I find the "positive thinking" stuff to be extremely contrived and artificial efforts that cannot be maintained over the long run. [I'm not downing this for others who have been helped by these techniques. I'm just saying that I haven't found them to be helpful for me.]You said, "...I focus on my intention. As negative, fearful thoughts arise, I notice them (witness) and let them go. I am not the thought.

My daily practice is about staying in the present; letting go of attachments, expections, the stories I have told myself about what I should have, the stories the larger society tells me about what I should want; and being compassionate towards myself and everyonge else."

You've raised an extremely important point. I think that it's critical to be mindful of what it is that we form attachments to. Across the board, including (disempowering) attachments to our thoughts.Peace, blessings and solidarity.