Believing my thoughts is exhausting.– Byron Katie
It takes a surprising amount of energy to maintain stressful beliefs, and any belief is stressful whether we initially notice or not.
Most of us have a significant number of stressful beliefs, many in the form of unnoticed and unquestioned underlying assumptions, so there is no wonder we sometimes feel exhausted from the weight of these beliefs, and we may also see the accumulated effects of this over time.
Why does it take so much energy to believe a thought?
One reason is that it has to be maintained. Since it’s out of alignment with reality, reality won’t do it for us. We have to actively believe the thought. We have to tell ourselves stories maintaining it.
Also, we have to defend the belief and the identity it creates from anything that threatens to poke holes in it. We have to defend the belief from the views of others not aligned with it, and also any thoughts and views that come up in ourselves not aligned with it.
We have to contort our system into perceiving, feeling, and thinking as if it’s true.
When we believe a thought we pretend to believe it. Somewhere in us, we know it’s not true. We know we cannot know for certain, and we know that apparently competing views have validity.
We have to deal with others disagreeing with our perception and how we live our life.
This means that believing a thought creates near-constant stress and struggle. We may not always notice since we are used to it and it’s more in the background. And we may have some relief from it when we are distracted from these processes. But most of the time, these stressful processes happen within us.
When we inquire into a stressful belief, we may see more clearly how exhausting it is to believe it, and we may also experience the release when we find what’s more true for us.
A common side-effect of either transcending or noticing what we are, especially when it happens more suddenly and undeniably, is that the tension and stress of believing all these thoughts fall away and there is a sense of remarkable and somehow familiar ease.
The way I wrote about this can make it sound as if we do this intentionally, and that’s obviously not the case. Our system has adopted these beliefs in order to protect us, and it’s perfectly natural and innocent. At the same time, it’s stressful and exhausting, and there is another way. Adopting that other way requires us to invite our system to reorganize at a visceral level, and there are several ways to do this including inquiry, heart-centered practices, energy work, and body-centered approaches.