Once upon a time, there was a boy named Ben. Ben was a good kid, and enjoyed reading, watching baseball, and playing with his friends. In almost all respects, Ben was a happy, normal child. But there was one thing that troubled him. He had an unwanted thought.
The unwanted thought crept up behind him one day, and tapped him on the shoulder. At first, the unwanted thought was tiny. Ben bent over and looked down to inspect it. The unwanted thought was about two feet tall. It was a greyish-green color, and looked like a little gremlin, with beady yellow eyes and pointy ears.
Ben was shocked by the unwanted thought. He wasn’t expecting it, and he didn’t know what to do about it. Ben’s heart started to race, and he looked around to see whether anyone else saw the unwanted thought. As far as he could tell, no one else besides him could see it.
Ben quickly looked for a way to get rid of the unwanted thought. He picked up the unwanted thought, put it in a box, and taped the lid tightly shut. “Whew,” Ben thought to himself. “I’m glad that unwanted thought is stuck in the box.” And he went about his day.
Later that evening, however, as he was brushing his teeth, Ben looked in the mirror and saw the unwanted thought again, standing on the toilet. The unwanted thought looked a little bigger than it had in the morning. Ben was scared. “How did the unwanted thought get out of the box?” he thought to himself. He quickly shut the door to the bathroom, to make sure no one else could see the unwanted thought.
Ben turned to face the unwanted thought, and scolded it: “I don’t want you around anymore!” he said, face getting red. “Get out! You’re not welcome here!”
The unwanted thought didn’t say anything. It just stood there, staring at Ben.
Ben took the unwanted thought by the hand (it was too big to pick up now) and walked it down the stairs. He went outside and marched out to the shed in the backyard. Ben opened the door to the shed and shoved the unwanted thought into the dark shed. Ben then locked the door to the shed, trapping the unwanted thought inside. “There,” he thought to himself. “There’s no way the unwanted thought can get out now.”
Ben had a difficult time getting to sleep that night. How HAD the unwanted thought gotten out of the box? He hoped it couldn’t get out of the shed too. Ben didn’t know much about the unwanted thought, but he did know that it was more difficult to get rid of it than he had expected.
The next morning, as Ben began to wake up and rub his eyes, he rolled over and what did he see? The unwanted thought was there AGAIN, sitting on his chair across the room! The unwanted thought was even bigger this time. It was almost as big as Ben himself!
Ben was really scared this time. “What do you want?” he yelled at the unwanted thought? “Why are you tormenting me?” But the unwanted thought just sat there, not saying anything.
Ben thought about trying to take the unwanted thought back to the shed again, but for some reason, he paused. He looked a little closer at the unwanted thought. He had never really looked at the unwanted thought closely before. As he looked closer at the unwanted thought, it didn’t seem quite as scary. After all, it was only a thought. It wasn’t forcing him to do anything bad. It was just sitting there. Maybe he could keep the unwanted thought around, and still make good choices.
Throughout the day, Ben let the unwanted thought stick around. He still didn’t particularly like having the unwanted thought around, but it wasn’t so bad. It was only a thought. He also noticed that throughout the day, as he was willing to let the unwanted thought stick around, it became a little less big and scary. It just was a thought—it didn’t force him to do anything bad.
After a while, Ben was okay having the unwanted thought around. Sometimes it was bigger and sometimes it was smaller. Paradoxically, when Ben tried to get rid of the unwanted thought, it grew bigger and scarier. Things worked out better for Ben when he saw the unwanted thought for what it was—just a thought—and was willing to let it stick around.