If on occasion you have found,
Your language is in question
Or ugly thoughts come to your mind,
Well here’s a good suggestion:
Just hum your favorite hymn
Sing out with vigor and vim.
And you will find
It clears your mind,
Hum your favorite hymn.
I think that this song was probably written with different intentions in mind. But as a primary child what I learned from it is that anything in my mind that is not beautiful shouldn’t be there. Because of this lesson, intentional or not, I often say yes when I want to say no. I often get up and work when my body is telling me to rest. I often act happy when I am feeling sad. And then I feel guilty for having had those "ugly" thoughts in the first place. I don’t like the idea that I learned from that song, and it has taken me 27 years to realize that it isn’t true. Sometimes I have an unfriendly thought, that is ok. I am allowed to find some people offensive. I am allowed to not want to be around my kids sometimes. I am allowed to feel angry and hurt and sad. Humming my favorite hymn until these thoughts go away only serves to make me feel guilty, my true self to feel unheard, and my actions to feel unauthentic. Certainly I ought not to act on every impulse that I have, but I don’t have to pretend that they aren’t there either.
It is really easy to hide ourselves from other people. For the most part we can choose what we share of our thoughts and what we keep inside of our minds. But what if one day my heart and mind are transparent and the option to hide within the privacy of my mind is gone? I can’t run away from ugly thoughts and push them aside. I have to discover why they are there and figure out what to do with them.
Often when I am angry I think there are only two choices: pretend I am not angry and let it burn inside of me, or fling out fiery, slightly out of control words and then feel bad about it afterwards. But I’m learning that being honest gives me a third option, it means acknowledging my anger without judgment of it being bad or good and expressing it in a way that most clearly explains my feelings without muddling the meaning by trying to punish the person I am angry at. When I truly accept my feelings and ask them what it is they are trying to tell me and then try to find a way to represent them with grace I have no reason for guilt.