The Possibility Podcast with Mel Schwartz episode 083 features an examination of participatory thinking, the key to recreating yourself and embracing possibility.
Listen and learn the key to breaking the habit of literal thinking so you can embrace uncertainty and transform your sense of self and bolster your self-worth.
In what ways can you recognize that certain self-limiting beliefs stem from objective, literal thinking? How might you adjust your perception in a way that allows you to participate subjectively with your thoughts? Let me know… in the comments!
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Transcript of The Possibility Podcast with Mel Schwartz #083
Hello, everybody and welcome to The Possibility Podcast. I’m your host, Mel Schwartz. I practice psychotherapy and marriage counseling and I am the author of the book, The Possibility Principle, the inspiration and the companion to this podcast. I’ll be introducing you to new ways of thinking, a new philosophy and a new game plan for life and all of the infinite possibilities that await you.
Hello everybody and welcome to today’s episode. We’re going to explore the ability to literally recreate ourselves. Not just a slow process of evolution, but to experience our lives as part of a creative force much more in alignment with how reality seems to operate than how we trick ourselves by thinking that we are fixed. You know we tend to think of ourselves as static, inert, fixed. As I’ve discussed previously the question of who am I requires a fixed answer but in reality nothing is fixed. Reality is flowing perpetually flowing and remaking itself and guess what aren’t we part of reality? So we need to stop tricking ourselves into thinking that change is hard. Reimagine this and think that with every breath you take you can open to new possibilities.
Now I’m not just speaking here in a very figurative way. We’re going to move into how you can actually summon those new possibilities in an actual way but in this battle that goes back and forth in our identity, we privately may think of ourselves in a factual way. Are we this or are we that? But do we also think of possibilities about venturing forth in creating new experiences, new experiences within ourself and new experiences out there?
So, not so surprisingly, quantum physics provides a great reference for us to be able to rethink ourselves, reimagine ourselves, and recreate ourselves. As you’ve heard me explain many times, in quantum physics, reality appears to be in a purest state of potentiality. Meaning, we can’t say reality is. Reality is always waiting to happen and perpetually recreating itself.
What is it that creates reality in the world of science and quantum physics is observation. That state of reality requires observation. Making an observation takes the infinite possibilities and reduces them to a reality in the moment.
But that reality keeps remaking itself. That is called a wave collapse. The reducing of the possibilities and potential into a finite thing. So in science. in quantum physics, observation creates the reality. The same thing happens in our relationship with our self. We’ll move into that shortly but for the moment, our observation, meaning our beliefs, our thoughts, and our feelings summon our reality.
Now, rather than thinking of reality existing independently, we must rethink it and think of a reality making process. There’s not an objective truth about reality but perpetual inexorable reality making. This is known as a participatory reality. Not just in quantum physics but in our personal lives. My thoughts, my beliefs, and my feelings participate fundamentally in creating my reality. So, we’re going to extract these realities from quantum physics into our personal lives.
Now, the theme of quantum physics is uncertainty. In uncertainty, all possibilities exist even for us. If things are not predetermined if the script of our life is not written for us yet, shouldn’t we exist in a state of possibility?
Think about the contrast between having a thought of why can’t I? Something motivational or hopeful. Why can’t I as opposed to why I can’t? We create our reality with which thought or belief we grab a hold of. So, our personal level, the micro human level. In the nanosecond, before you have your next thought, you exist in a state of pure possibilities. Let’s take a look at what I’m saying.
Your state of pure possibility and pure potential resides in the space between your thoughts because you see it’s your thoughts and your feelings that are the wave collapse. Your thoughts and feelings reduce the possibilities and create a reality. Thought operates the same as the wave collapse.
Now, thought and feeling work into tandem. The moment you have a thought, that thought summons up the accompanying feeling and then loops back into the next thought. So, we get stuck in these cycles because of thought and feeling and fundamentally, underneath thoughts and feelings are beliefs, beliefs about what we hold dear, true, untrue, possible, impossible. These beliefs all inform our reality making process.
Ask yourself right now, generally speaking, do your thoughts tend to be your ally or your critic? The answer to that is going to write the script of your life.
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We’re going to dive more deeply now into the nature of thought and I’m going to explain the difference between literal thought and participatory thinking. This is not just an academic exercise. It’s going to be immeasurably important to you.
Most of our recurring thoughts are the result of our beliefs and limiting wave collapses, usually early childhood. We’re not typically aware of where they’re coming from. So, if you’ve carried a thought with you throughout your life like I’m not good enough or I’m not smart enough or I’m a failure, you don’t see it as a thought. You accept it as the objective truth. These confining thoughts from your primary beliefs about yourself script your experience and your life trauma and they get in the way of recreating yourself moment in and moment out.
Not recognizing that our thoughts are falsely reporting a truth to us, we accept the story they’re telling us. This is known as literal thought. Literal thought reports in on a so-called truth into the scene. You know what it sounds like? The thought starts with you are such and such. I am such and such. It is…
This manner of thinking is completely at odds with the participatory paradigm. From this new participatory worldview, our subjective thoughts and perceptions participate completely in our reality making process. So, it’s essential to understand the difference between literal thought and participatory thinking.
Last week, in a session with a client, I proposed looking at the nature of thought and separating from it and my client said to me, that’s not easy to do. Her thought was appearing to assert the truth. That’s not easy to do. She stated the truth.
I asked her, have you ever tried doing this before? She said, no. They said, how do you know? It’s not easy to do. You see, her literal thought was stating a fact. I encourage her to move beyond it and say, I notice my thought telling me this was going to be hard to do. She could then distinguish between what her thought was telling her and her reality.
This is not just simple semantics. It moves us from feeling like a victim of circumstances toward being able to create new life experiences. If we separate from the thought and notice what is saying, we are no longer just purveyors of old thought stuck in the groove of old thought. We are thinking. Thinking is the gateway. It is the portal to creating new life experiences.
Now, also this observation looking at the thought, it slows down the automatic nature. You know, great athletes often claim when they’re at peak performance in the zone. They seem to see the action in slow motion. This is what we need to seek as we slow down the torrent of the old thought process. The higher our state of awareness, allows us to see and choose our thoughts and develop a deeper, more grounded sense of ourselves. Just think of the difference between these following statements:
Literal thought. He is so selfish and he cares about himself. I mean nothing to him, his wife confided in me.
Or participatory thinking: You know Mel, I’ve been having a thought or feeling. I’ve had that feeling for a long time and that thought is telling me he’s uncaring and selfish.
Now, we can dive in. Understand her experience. Why is she experiencing that? Why is he acting a certain way? In the first statement, literal thought is telling us an unyielding truth. It’s speaking about an objective reality. The second statement reflects participatory thinking. So, what’s the big difference?
Well, the first is objective, a false reality, it draws a conclusion and it leaves no room for contemplation, stuck. The second, the participatory thinking is subjective. It’s about how you see him. It can be about how you see yourself. Well, then you can be free in the next moment to choose to see yourself differently, that’s how recreating yourself happens.
Whether you’re thinking to yourself or reflecting on your perceptions or communicating with someone else, the preface, I’m having a thought which is telling me, it breaks the automatic repetition of old beliefs and old thoughts that keeps us static and inert. It enables us to take ownership of the thought and see it operating.
From this new participatory worldview, ideas of separation fall away and we are part of an inseparable flowing reality and our mind is the primary participant. From this perspective, we can see thought as subjectively representing what we think we see out there. Just as seeing your thought allows you not to become the thought, the same holds true with your feelings. The goal is to see your feelings arise, identify them, note them.
If you’re feeling hurt or angry, express what you’re feeling instead of becoming the feeling.
In a couples session I was conducting some time ago, Sarah’s voice became really angry and her body stiffened as she recounted how her husband failed her as a co-parent. Her hostile communication could only cause her husband to defend himself. So I asked her to pause. Notice what she was feeling. Express the feeling rather than becoming the feeling.
To recreate yourself. To evolve at warp speed. To have curiosity and wonder and engagement with your life, it’s absolutely essential to remember, in the space between your thoughts, between your old thoughts, you exist in a state of pure possibility. To summon that possibility, we need to move into that space. That space is participatory thinking.
Here’s another example. I was working with a young man around his self-esteem issues. He had a recurring question that kept stalling him out. What will they think of me if I say this or it sounds weird to them? That’s literal thought. He believed that other people were judging him and evaluating him. In fact, he was judging himself, projecting that judgment onto other people and then imagining that he was on stage for other people to critique.
After teaching him the difference between literal thought and participatory thinking, I asked him to express his concern in a participatory way. He struggled but eventually, he said, I keep having the same worry. The same old thought that others are judging me but I guess I see that’s just what my thought is telling me, and probably not valid.
Here’s an exercise. Try it on. The next time you experience an upsetting feeling, pause and ask yourself what literal thought you had to set up that feeling. You could see the literal nature of the thought is it pretends to be an objective truth. It might sound like he never, she always, they are, I am. Now, take the literal thought and rephrase it in a participatory way. I’m having a thought that is telling me such and such. You now see your participation in that thought.
Ask yourself, what if my beliefs about myself and others aren’t necessarily factually true? How can I recreate myself any moment that I choose to? I need to summon that space between old thoughts and old feelings and move into participatory thinking. Ask myself new questions, contemplate in a new way. Reach into that space beyond predictability. That is where your imagination, your creativity, and the power of your evolutionary process lie.
Breathe in, breathe out. Old thought, new thinking. Make new thinking your ally and life can be an absolutely exciting journey.
Well, until next time, I wish you health, emotional prosperity, and well-being. Looking forward to talking with you again soon.
I hope you enjoyed this episode of The Possibility Podcast and I welcome your feedback on this or any episode. Please send me an email at Mel at Mel Schwartz. com or leave a comment in the show notes for this episode at Mel Schwartz. com. If you like what you’re hearing, please take a moment to rate and review the show at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcast. Your reviews really help boost the visibility for the show and it’s a great way for you to show your support. Finally, please make sure to subscribe to The Possibility Podcast wherever you listen to podcast. In that way, you’ll never miss an episode and thanks again and please remember to always welcome uncertainty into your life as you embrace new possibilities.