I often refer to tearing thoughts. These are thoughts that attack us, like “I am weak. I am worthless. I am no good. That-other person is better than I am”. Tearing thoughts are an extraordinary psychological phenomenon. When cells take the wrong path and start to attack the organ they live in, we call it cancer. Tearing thoughts are a kind of autoimmune failure of the mental body.
The mind, which should be used for our benefit – solving problems, understanding issues, writing poetry – instead turns against us with devastating effect. Enemies are insignificant when our own minds tear into us.
If there is a single phenomenon that epitomizes being deluded by your own energies, it is tearing thoughts. A tearing thought is a terrorist who has already penetrated your deepest defense system and lives in your hometown with vile intentions. If you could stop this one tendency you would be entirely transformed. When we have a failure in life, it is not so much the defeat that brings us down, but what we take it to mean about ourselves. We say, ‘Oh I lost that game, therefore I’m worthless’. We have a tantrum, we take to our bed, we make everyone suffer for miles around. The one who suffers most is us. If we didn’t have tearing thoughts, we would simply say, “Now what can I learn from that? That’s good, I’ll do that next time”. And we move on cleanly and clearly.
If you are successful in some aspect- of your life and if you examine your inner process, you will discover that you are not afflicted by tearing thoughts in that area. We defeat ourselves by getting caught in the pernicious downward spiral of tearing thoughts.
(Swami Shankarananda. The Yoga of Kashmir Shaivism: Consciousness is Everything.)