Finding your way out of CAUGHT UP THINKING AVENUE

There is an avenue called CAUGHT UP AVENUE. This avenue can be tricky in our everyday life. I know you may think that if you ever drove into this avenue, you will switch on your Google Map or Waze App. Unfortunately, Google map or Waze cannot get you out of this avenue. Remember images of the tangled thread or rope when you were growing up? It just does not look possible that this tangled rope can be untangled; but it can with PATIENCE AND TIME.

When some parents find out that their young ones have tangled their thread, they think of all the difficulties it will take to untangle it and they just throw it into the dust bin. They conclude that it is not worth the effort. At some other times, considering how precious the thread is, how much it was bought, the difficulty in procuring one, a parent may consider it worthwhile to spend an entire day or days just to untangle a thread. Do you know that our thoughts are like that tangled thread? Sometimes our thoughts are so tangled that we do not even know where to start the untangling from. 

The decision on whether we will invest time to untangle the thoughts or just perish with them is a thing that needs careful considerations. Like the thread analogy I gave, this decision will be based on the value of the thread to you. But there is one difference between tangled thread and tangled thoughts. When it is an external thread, you take an objective view; but when it is your thoughts you are many times unable to take an objective view because of the connection between you and your thoughts. This place is where Joseph Bailey & Richard Carlson calls the CAUGHT-UP AVENUE in their book “SLOWING DOWN TO THE SPEED OF LIFE”. Honestly, I recommend this book to everyone. It is a personal development reference bible to me.

Our greatest delusion in life is the faulty thinking that our feelings come from anywhere OTHER THAN OUR THINKING IN THE MOMENT. Your feelings of pain, bitterness, anger, resentment is not coming from what your spouse did to you. They are coming from the meanings that you made from the events. It is simpler said than lived, but the moment you grasp this simple statement, YOUR EXPERIENCE OF LIFE INSTANTLY TAKES A DIFFERENT MEANING

You will experience peace that is unexplainable WITHOUT any changes to your life circumstances. And once you build this consciousness into your life, it is THE BEGINNING of bye-bye to any relationship pain the remaining days of your life. You meet a beautiful lady and you lose your breath just gazing at her, you motion to know her more, but as you listen to her, you find that inside is not beautiful. What is the matter you wonder? The matter is that all of our life experiences are internally self-created. 

When I said the girl was beautiful, maybe you thought there was a universal standard for beauty, there is none. She was beautiful judging by the set of criteria I have come to define beauty with. She is reeling out bitterness and regrets because life doesn’t seem to be going with the set of criteria that she set in her memory. Sometimes, we can get so caught up in these painful thoughts that we lose our way. Micheal Neil, author of the “The Space Within” writes on how to FIND YOUR WAY BACK HOME. When you get caught up in too many tangled thoughts, you have propelled your life into CAUGHT UP AVENUE. What you now need to do is to find your way back home.

The fact that you are caught up in your thinking is more relevant to the way you feel than to the specific details of whatever you are caught up about. That doesn’t mean that what you are concerned about isn’t important, the question is, are you thinking about the problem from a healthy psychological place or from frenetic, troubled state of mind? Given that thoughts and feelings are one and the same, the more caught up that you are, the more you are going to feel worse. You will imagine your problems to be BIGGER than they actually are and with NO SOLUTIONS. You get busy and you accomplish NOTHING. Your mind is running from Alaska to Pretoria about what was done to you 20 years ago to something that can happen tomorrow. 

You forget that all of these evil MACHINATIONS exist ONLY in one place – YOUR THOUGHTS. But the reality is that YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS AND YOUR THOUGHTS ARE NOT REALITY. All of our experience of life are thought created. They were made up by us. The thinking that you are not enjoying your marriage is all made up by YOU. And so too is the thinking that you are enjoying your marriage. The difference in the two states is that one is tormenting you while the other is generating happy feelings. In state one, you will not have sex with your spouse tonight. It is just impossible. Thoughts and feelings go together. The internal meanings you made about your spouse shouting like a dog at you yesterday just cannot bring you near anything called sex. But in a different mood, you know he shouts like a dog anyway but you don’t take them personal anymore, that is his business and you have even come to find out that when you have sex with him just after he has shouted like a dog it is so enjoyable and he becomes remorseful.

One kind of thinking that can aggravate you when you are in CAUGHT UP AVENUE is the kind of thinking called “BLACK AND WHITE” thinking. Oh, how I hate this thinking. I have been victim of this thinking severally, in the workplace and in family life. This thinking sees only two possibilities, it is either black or white. Either the marriage is working, or we are divorced. This kind of thinking can send you to the psychiatry. Life does not come in black and white; it comes in several shades and sometimes, unfamiliar to our mental wiring. I learnt this the hard way. When you think of life in just BLACK AND WHITE, you are going to experience extremes of behaviour in most relationships you find yourself. 

You will be swift to judge others because to you, life is either black or white. Google the phrase “BLACK AND WHITE THINKING”, you see plenty of information on this subject. A relationship cannot be judged to be a failure just based on one-character flaw. I have quit jobs because I looked at the organization in BLACK AND WHITE thinking only to find out years later that I was wrong. I remember one case where I wrote to withdraw my resignation, but alas, the CEO will not give me a second chance. I was like Esau in Hebrews 12:17, when he sought the blessing he earlier repudiated with tears but could not get it again. Esau saw things only in black and white. Either I get porridge or my birth right. If he looked at life from several shades of flavours he would have known how to get both his birth right and his porridge meal.

When I think about leadership, David and his army commander Joab comes to mind. On the face of their contrariness these two people should not work together, but you see, Joab was David’s army chief to the death of David. Here is a man who will behind David arrange to kill the very people that David was in covenant with. On more than 3 different occasions, Joab executed persons that David warned him not to touch. Yet, this same Joab defended David like non other until the death of David. 

If you want to learn how to think in 50 shades of grey, study the life of Joab and David in second kings. You will be humbled. Joab will rout an enemy army and send for David to come stand as the one who defeated the army lest the people begin to chant him Joab as the hero. When David commanded that no harm should be done to his son Absalom, Joab smote and killed Absalom. Severally, they both cried when one did what the other did not want, but they remained unbroken brothers at war for over 50 years. Talk about 50 shades of grey. One thing that I bring out from the story is that they both knew the individual values that each person brought to the relationship. 

When we are in caught up avenue, we do not see the values that our partners bring to our lives, these values have been shrouded in our THINKING IN THE MOMENT. But we can untangle these hard-wired thinking and begin to enjoy our everyday lives. It takes a great deal of SLOWING DOWN TO THE SPEED OF LIFE to see the value that your spouse brings to the table when you are driving along caught up avenue. I dare say that men need a lot more humility in slowing down to recognize what their wives bring to the relationship than women. By default, men think that just by been a man has giving them 60% value contribution to a relationship even if all you do for the rest of your life is watch super sports. This is not true. But I also dare say to women that your job is not to correct this erroneous thinking; learn how to create healthy meanings with your thought life and the absurdity of that kind of thinking in men will gradually fade away.

When you are in caught up avenue, instead of enjoying the moment with your other half, you are analysing their actions. In black and white thinking, you must beware of the following dangers – premature decision making, lack of compromise, unrealistic expectations, and unhealthy boundaries. A quote from Michael Patanella reads “We are moulded, and evolved, to travel through life looking away from ourselves whenever there is an issue. We can’t go through life holding mirrors in front of ourselves, as we wrongly go about trying to pinpoint what entity is fooling all our real-life issues. Well, we can ourselves be guilty. Even if we are not the problem, maybe we have to take a step back and remember that we are not our thoughts, and just because we think it, doesn’t mean it’s true”.

If this article has met you while driving through CAUGHT UP AVENUE, you can try some of these suggestions to find your way back home. 
  1. SHIFT YOUR THINKING – As soon as you realize that you are the THINKER and that your thought making machine works independent of the circumstance and can magnify any circumstance, shift your energy to a different place in time. 
  2. SLOW DOWN AND STRETCH TIME – It takes a lot of work to untangle a tangled thread. When your mind is rushing to what can happen 5 years from now, slow down and go play some football, life should be lived IN THE MOMENT. There is nothing called tomorrow. 
  3. Move from “BLACK AND WHITE THINKING” to “50 SHADES OF GREY”. If you have studied complex negotiations like Brexit or the China – America trade conflict, you will see that to LEAD, you must know how to think in 50 shades of grey. In one dimension, Russia is an enemy of the United States, yet on another dimension the two countries are working together to solve a problem. To a person who thinks black and white, this is impossible. Welcome to the higher life.

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