I Am Bigger Than This
How to change your thoughts
Thought and expression are so closely bound together in us. Whenever we are thinking something, we are unconsciously verbalizing our thoughts. If we change the verbalization, we will change the thought, too.
Likewise, if I verbalize my new attitude, my thinking will move with it. Here are some of the mantras I use during different situations.
WHEN THINGS MAKE ME UPSET
I have always believed that the size of a person is measured by the size of the things that disturb that person. Every day there are people, places, and things that could really upset me or make me feel worthless. When that happens, I repeat to myself: “Bob, you are bigger than this.” I don’t want to be the size of those trivial things that habitually irritate me. The more I think this way, the more I grow, and the freer I become.
WHEN SOMEONE IS ANGRY OR PETTY
Another mantra I use is “I am an actor, not a reactor.” This means I will let no one else decide how I am going to act. If another chooses to be petty, I am not going to be drawn into petty limits of behavior. If another chooses to be angry or malicious, I am not going to let that seduce me from my personal resolve to be a loving person. I am going to decide how I will act.
WHEN I ENCOUNTER SELF-CENTEREDNESS
I had always been disappointed whenever I encountered self-centeredness or people who acted entitled. My wife helped me understand this when she asked me if I’d ever had a toothache. When I replied yes, she asked, “And whom were you thinking of when the tooth was hurting?” “Me, of course,” I blurted.
“That,” she said, “is your answer. People who are self-centered are hurting people. Their pain magnetizes all their attention.” And now I use that mantra, “Did you ever have a toothache?” whenever I have encountered seeming self-centeredness or entitlement. It has helped me become more compassionate and certainly much happier.
WHEN I FEEL LIKE A NOBODY
In order to eliminate a distorted pattern of thinking or a crippling attitude, we have to work out a simple and direct statement of the truth, which will replace the error in our crippling attitude. For example, if I am tempted to think and feel like a non-person, a nobody, every time this thought or feeling rises in me, I stop or inhibit it with the mantra: “I am somebody. I’m the one and only me!”
The more I say, “I am somebody,” the more I will think it. And the more I think it, the deeper-rooted the new habit will become. Eventually, it will become a part of me. When you use mantras, the old, crippling, life-restricting thought patterns are by a conscious decision inhibited and replaced by new life-giving attitudes.
Bob Mueller is Bishop of the United Catholic Church.