They are many reviews written about Elizabeth Gilbert’s enlightening book about her worldly travels. Below is an excerpt taken from Gilbert, E (2006), Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia – reprinted from Eat Pray Love, New York, Penguin books, p177-178).
I was drawn to Gilbert’s message when it was brought to our atttention upon participating in a group session on cognitive behavior therapy for depression. Group participants were both men and women and the paradox in this private group setting, were both sexes agreed. Before the passage was read out loud, a few male participants mumbled, “that’s a chick flick” or “my girlfriend wants me to see the movie and I said, ‘no way’.” Could it be possible for a moment to reserve the strong hold around such characterization, and open ourselves to receive potentially what could be an understanding regardless if a book or a movie is a ‘guy or a girl thing’. Read and judge for yourself.
Note that the author is nicknamed “Groceries” and the page from the book referenced here is “I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore.”
“This last concept is a radically new idea for me. Richard from Texas brought it to my attention recently, when I was complaining about my inability to stop brooding. He said, “Groceries, you need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select what clothes you’re gonna wear every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control. Drop everything else but that. Because if you can’t learn to master your thinking, you’re in deep trouble forever.”
On first glance, this seems a nearly impossible task. Control your thoughts? Instead of the other way around? But imagine if you could? This is not about repression or denial. Repression and denial set up elaborate games to pretend that negative thoughts and feelings are not occurring. What Richard is talking about is instead admitting to the existence of negative thoughts, understanding where they came from and why they arrived, and then – with great forgiveness and fortitude – dismissing them. This is a practice that fits hand in glove with any psychological work you do during therapy. You can use the shrink’s office to understand why you have these destructive thoughts in the first place; you can use spiritual exercises to help overcome them. It’s a sacrifice to let them go, of course. It’s a loss of old habits, comforting old grudges and familiar vignettes. Of course this all takes practice and effort. It’s not a teaching that you can hear once and then expect to master immediately. It’s constant vigilance and I want to do it. I need to do it, for my strength. Devo farmi le osssa is how they say it in Italian, “I need to make my bones.”
So I’ve started being vigilant about watching my thoughts all day, and monitoring them. I repeat this vow about 700 times a day: “I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore.” Every time a diminishing thought arises, I repeat the vow. I will not habor unhealthy thoughts anymore.”