"How do I change my unconscious thought patterns?" is a common question.
What I've seen is that it's not so much about changing thought patterns. It's about understanding how new and helpful thought is already showing up. Here's what I mean.
Nobody's mood is static. I saw this recently with someone who described himself as very depressed.
"Do you have highs and lows," I asked.
"Sure," he replied. "The low is I ask G-d at night not to wake me up in the morning."
"Is it always like that?" I asked.
"No. Much of the time I'm just depressed and struggling, trying to find relief."
That ought to give a person pause. What's causing the movement? He's obviously not deciding to be more or less functional. His mood moves because he experiences new thought. We are permeable to new thought - without our causing it - all the time. Simply because we're connected to the Source of all thought.
In his case, because his "high" was so far below what he wants, he had little respect for the change. What's valuable, though, is not so much the specific change. It's the fact of change that matters. It shows something's happening without our planning. We're not on the hook to change our unconscious thought. Once we have a little respect for that newness, we'll see there's more where that came from.
I saw this just this Friday night as I felt a wave of critical thinking toward various family members.
After the surge of judgmental feelings, I felt sadness and upset with myself. Why do I drift here so easily? I’m like a car whose steering is unaligned, I thought: one moment with my hands off the wheel and I’m veering off the road.
Thankfully, I paused. I’m not always like this, I acknowledged. I see I’m functioning today in a way that was inconceivable ten, five, even one year ago. I wanted that change, but I didn’t author it. Something has shown up in my heart and mind that is different. I began to settle down. I saw gratitude as a possibility even with the judgment lurking in the shadows. I felt hopeful.
To me, this is one of the most exciting aspects of our holiday tonight.
On Sukkot, we dwell under a roof through which we can see the stars and become drenched by rain. Thought we live under it for a week, it's a roof that points us to a reality we're living with all year round whether we acknowledge it or not: our life, our mind, our heart are all permeable to the heavens. My takeaway: a deeper trust in God’s kindness has less to do with breaking through to reach Him and more to do with seeing how He’s already reaching us.
Warm blessings for a beautiful Sukkot.