Your mind doesn’t really doesn’t know what is an emergency and what isn’t.
Just moments ago you were sleeping soundly. You have been working hard and you need your rest, but you aren’t getting it.
No, the phone didn’t ring. There wasn’t a car alarm or some loud noise.
Your mind woke you again.
The biggest mistake that people make is they indulge their minds.
It is two-thirty-five and time to worry. What if your presentation doesn’t go well or you can’t afford to send the baby to college in a few years. What about that extra two pounds you put on this week or what if your parents decide to move in with you.
Your mind wakes you up at any hour with an “important” thought that wouldn’t wait until morning. Your mind derives its value from the importance of each and every thought. It can wake you up or upset you anytime of the day or night.
Thoughts grab for your attention like a spoiled child. And often, the worse the thought, the more attention you give it.
When your thoughts grab for attention, you are left lonely, wanting attention and with thoughts that are negative and unproductive. One of the primary reasons that you don’t get enough attention is that your mind—and its thoughts—get so much of your attention.
It’s time to say, “Enough!” to your mind; time to get on with a new life, with a more productive and respectful mind; time to have the life you deserve as you discover a very important fact: you are not your mind, and your mind really isn’t in control of anything.
Your mind isn’t very disciplined, and it isn’t very nice. Yes, it is creative. Yes it keeps you entertained. Yes, it solves problems for you. And yes, life wouldn’t be the same without your mind. Your mind isn’t the enemy, it just isn’t a good friend yet.
You probably wouldn’t let one of your friends call you in the middle of the night unless it really was an emergency—at least I hope you wouldn’t. That isn’t what friends are for, and it isn’t what your mind is for either.
Getting to know how your mind works, what it is up to and how to have it be a better friend will make a good night’s sleep much more likely. It will also reduce how seriously you take your mind and have you think more clearly.
I have been leading workshops for 30 years. Much of what I teach is how you can use your mind more effectively and how your mind can become your biggest ally rather than an insistent, immature, tantrum throwing problem.
Here are a few things that you need to know about your mind to put it in perspective and begin a wonderful friendship or even love affair with your mind.
Your mind doesn’t care what happens.
Your mind creates illusions. It cares about what it thinks, not about what really happened. If there are five eyewitnesses to an accident, there are five different reports about what happened. While there are similarities between the reports, different minds perceive things differently—always.
Often, your mind is too deeply focused on what might happen (worrying) to notice what is happening. Or, it is agonizing about what did happen (regretting), again, ignoring what is happening.
Most of all, your mind is obsessed with what other minds are thinking (mind reading). Your mind is horribly competitive and insecure, comparing you to the neighbors, co-workers, friends, family members and movie stars. Whether these comparisons come out positively or negatively, they still are defensive wastes of brain power.
Just because you think something doesn’t mean that you have to do anything. If your mind says “jump,” you don’t have to jump. If your mind says you have to get even or get angry or worry, it doesn’t mean that you have to do any of these things.
You don’t have to indulge your mind. Listen to it, notice it, give it attention, but don’t—not even for a moment—believe anything that it says, especially when you are upset.
Your mind wants what it wants when it wants it. So does a terrible two year old. If your mind doesn’t get what it wants is wants something else. So does a terrible two-year-old. But like a terrible two year old that isn’t indulged, your mind can grow up, mature and become a mature, powerful asset, making your life much more fun and rewarding.
Your mind doesn’t really ever do anything.
Your mind can’t take a walk, but it can think while you are taking a walk. It can’t make love, but it can chatter away while you are making love. Your mind can’t hold a job, but it has lots of opinions and judgments about what you do for a living.
Your mind can’t really influence what will happen or what has happened, but continually acts as though it is in control of practically everything. Your mind seldom shuts up!
Notice that your mind really isn’t in control of anything. It is full of opinions and judgments that mean little or nothing and don’t need to be taken seriously. Never, ever, ever listen to what you mind tells you to do when you are upset. Never.
Doing what your mind tells you to when you are upset rewards your mind for responding to the upset which makes it way more likely you will experience more upset.
A friend of mine works at a big company. She has a new manager who has imposed new rules on her sales team and restructured commissions. She is upset. Her mind screams “He can’t do that, get back at him!”
This is the perfect moment for her not to do anything. Her mind wants revenge—or at least relief. At this point, she will probably do something stupid or counter-productive. When your mind is the loudest, it is time for you to do nothing.
You are walking down the street, it is nine a.m. and just this morning you started your newest diet. You walk by a bakery. Your mind screams “You need bread, you are starving, you deserve some fresh baked bread, life is short; get bread now.”
But if you succumb, if you get that warm succulent bread, your mind soon says “You blew your diet, I wouldn’t have done that, now you may as well have a big lunch; you can diet tomorrow.”
Your mind’s favorite time to diet is tomorrow. Its favorite time to budget is next year and its favorite time to pester you with terrible thoughts is in the middle of the night. The time for you to train your mind is anytime it tells you that you have to do something or you better do something or anytime it threatens you. Notice its threats, but don’t act on them. Hear your mind out but don’t let it out fox you by making you do whatever seems so important.
If you don’t get the bread, your mind will quickly find another emergency. Your boss is probably upset with the job you did or your spouse might be upset this evening.
Your mind will tell you anything to get your attention and to get you to do things which aren’t even close to your best interest.
You don’t ever, ever, ever have to do what your mind says. Never!
Your mind loves problems.
Your mind defines itself by being a problem solver. It is so proud when it figures out a math problem or what you will do tonight or how to bring in new customers.
But it doesn’t notice something very important…something that it really doesn’t want you to know.
Each problem that your mind solved, your mind created. Your mind is the creator of every one of your problems. Without your mind, there aren’t any problems.
What is and what you think are often very different. That difference presents a problem for your mind. Your mind’s constant solution for this “problem” is to believe it.
You believe the problems are real. Problems are just illusions created by your mind. Your mind keeps you busy creating and solving problems, too busy to get to know yourself, too busy to catch it spinning out its fantasies.
Your mind keeps you company, it keeps you busy and it makes sure you are never alone. It is your constant companion but is not yet a very good friend. Make it a better friend by continually remembering that your mind isn’t you; it is a tool which is better used for entertainment than control.
When you stop reacting to it, your mind will quiet, you will react less often, you will befriend your mind, you will get a good night’s sleep and wake up to a clear, fresh and peaceful world.
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Ed: K.Macku/Kate Bartolotta