It is surely obvious that if you can be attacked you are not invulnerable. You see attack as a real threat. That is because you believe that you can really attack. And what would have effects through you must also have effects on you. It is this law that will ultimately save you, but you are misusing it now. You must therefore learn how it can be used for your own best interests, rather than against them.
Because your attack thoughts will be projected, you will fear attack. And if you fear attack, you must believe that you are not invulnerable. Attack thoughts therefore make you vulnerable in your own mind, which is where the attack thoughts are. Attack thoughts and invulnerability cannot be accepted together. They contradict each other.
The idea for today introduces the thought that you always attack yourself first. If attack thoughts must entail the belief that you are vulnerable, their effect is to weaken you in your own eyes. Thus they have attacked your perception of yourself. And because you believe in them, you can no longer believe in yourself. A false image of yourself has come to take the place of what you are.
Practice with today's idea will help you to understand that vulnerability or invulnerability is the result of your own thoughts. Nothing except your thoughts can attack you. Nothing except your thoughts can make you think you are vulnerable. And nothing except your thoughts can prove to you this is not so.
Six practice periods are required in applying today's idea. A full two minutes should be attempted for each of them, although the time may be reduced to a minute if the discomfort is too great. Do not reduce it further.
The practice period should begin with repeating the idea for today, then closing your eyes and reviewing the unresolved questions whose outcomes are causing you concern. The concern may take the form of depression, worry, anger, a sense of imposition, fear, foreboding or preoccupation. Any problem as yet unsettled that tends to recur in your thoughts during the day is a suitable subject. You will not be able to use very many for any one practice period, because a longer time than usual should be spent with each one. Today's idea should be applied as follows:.
First, name the situation:
I am concerned about _______________________________.
Then go over every possible outcome that
has occurred to you in that connection and which has caused you
concern, referring to each one quite specifically, saying:
I am afraid __________________ will happen.
If you are doing the exercises properly, you should have some five or six distressing possibilities available for each situation you use, and quite possibly more. It is much more helpful to cover a few situations thoroughly than to touch on a larger number. As the list of anticipated outcomes for each situation continues, you will probably find some of them, especially those that occur to you toward the end, less acceptable to you. Try, however, to treat them all alike to whatever extent you can.
After you have named each outcome of which you are afraid, tell yourself:
That thought is an attack upon myself.
Conclude each practice period by repeating today's idea to yourself once more.
The American Heritage dictionary defines "invulnerable" as "immune to attack." So to believe I can be attacked means, by definition, that I believe I am not invulnerable. That much is obvious.
There is a little bit of logic in the first paragraph that might slip by without careful reading:
You see attack as a real threat. That is because you believe that you can really attack.
It is my belief that I am capable of attack that makes me fear attack from without; if I can attack, so can everyone else. My fear of attack, therefore, comes from the projection of my own belief about myself! It comes from my belief that I am not a wholly loving being, but rather I am malicious, malign and wicked. That is what the second paragraph is all about.
"What would have effects through you must also have effects on you". This is why, as Lesson 23 said in the last paragraph, thoughts of attacking and thoughts of being attacked are exactly the same. My belief in attack within myself, acting through me, will also have effects on me. "It is this law that will ultimately save you". What that is referring to is the truth, much emphasized in the Course, that the way I find forgiveness is by giving it; the way I receive healing is to heal others. But we are "misusing" that law now, projecting guilt instead of extending love. So we need to learn how to use it for our own best interests, rather than against them (a reference to Lesson 24).
Attack thoughts weaken me in my own eyes, whether they are fearful thoughts of assault from without, or aggressive thoughts of attack on another. The strong do not have enemies, as it implies elsewhere. If I can let go of attack thoughts I will perceive my invulnerability; my "vulnerability or invulnerability is the result of [my] own thoughts".
"Nothing except your thoughts can attack you". That is a thought I have meditated on for years, and have proved valid in my own experience. It is particularly difficult to believe at first; that's okay. Work with it. It is an empowering thought.
The instructions for today's lesson are
longer and quite detailed. Read them carefully. This is a real mental
process we are to engage in. In thinking of a situation we are to "go
over every possible outcome", referring to it very specifically. The
lesson emphasizes being thorough, and taking time with each situation.