How to Turn Fear into Freedom. ~ Jerry Stocking

Via Jerry Stocking
on Mar 22, 2013
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battle in the brain

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.

(Photo: Fuck Yeah BookArts via Tumblr)
(Photo: Fuck Yeah BookArts via Tumblr)

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.

brain consciousOften, 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 can diet tomorrow.

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


About Jerry Stocking

Jerry Stocking is a modern day Thoreau who left the fast paced world as a stock broker and moved to the woods. He now spends his time helping others, and himself, express their zest for life. He lives his life with heart wide open on a 33 acre blueberry farm with two ponds and a peaceful pace. Often writing at 3 a.m., there are no social conventions here, just the pursuit of possibilities and unconditional love. To find out more, take a peek at this "Getting the Joke.", or read Jerry’s free e-book download his free e-book., visit his website for some inspiration...


13 Responses to “How to Turn Fear into Freedom. ~ Jerry Stocking”

  1. Jennifer says:

    I haven't finished reading the blog yet but I love it already. question that comes up is about rewarding thoughts and how we reward thoughts with yet more attention (giving the worst thought more attn). Is there a game we can make up with noticing how much attention we are giving these….like how we played with attention at the course and how rigid or soft the walls between bits were)? I think of how Patricia McCleary played with % on references. It occurs to me that I don't know how to "not" reward it or even how to withdraw my attention. There is one I have rewarded a bunch and you had suggested something to this effect and I can still see it but don't know how to create "play" there and in effect, can't really parent myself at all…like no rapport

  2. Jerry, thank you for writing this. Here is what I'd like to know: how can we begin to use our minds for entertainment?

  3. Bill says:

    I can identify with the waking up in the middle of the night. If I indulge the thoughts no more sleep. If I acknowledge and say later sleep usually follows.

  4. Thanks for your questions. There are a lot of them that you have asked and plenty of blanks left for me to try and fill in. I will try.
    Attention is a purely human gift. We aren't really supposed to control it, but, get to know it. You aren't to determine what gets into it or what gets out of it but you are to discover yourself as a creature of attention and by doing so you will be able to influence your attention. You won't influence it in gross ways, like putting it on something in particular or withdrawing it. Attention is a very delicate instrument. To play it well is to cultivate a bit of attention which is an observer. This observer isn't heavy handed, it is the lightest of touches and enhances your knowledge and love for all that moves in and out of your attention.
    Trying to edit fear or anything out of your attention may clear your attention momentarily but it will move what was in your attention out of your attention and in this case out of sight, or attention, is not out of mind. The trick is to keep things moving in your attention without preference for what in the world gets in there. The best way I know to accomplish this is to have your witness observing the comings and goings within your attention. When you can celebrate what gets into your attention and what moves out of it you will be able to use attention as a continued celebration of what is.
    Could write a book to answer your question, in fact, I am, but for now I hope this helps.

  5. The alternative Nathaniel, as I see it is to use your mind for control or entertainment. To use it for control is to set up a difficult life and dynamic in which you have to try to continually prove something that isn't true: that you are in control. The moment you release control you will discover that this truly is a planet with great entertainment.
    If you go to a movie you can just watch it. You don't have to try and change it. You can actively observe and identify with what goes on during the movie. But if you try and control how the movie ends or what happens during it the worst possible thing might just happen. The worst possible thing is that you will think you succeeded occasionally and will prefer the times you think you influenced it and try and avoid the times you didn't. That is what it is like living in a world bent on control: you constantly include some things and exclude others missing the entertainment of unconditional inclusion.

  6. That sounds like a precious, brief negotiation. Sleep well Bill when you sleep and wake refreshed when you awaken.

  7. Jennifer says:

    So I have this part of me that goes through life and says, "I know, I know" and she pushes her way to the front of the proverbial line (in thought and in behavior) and I wonder where I reward this to make it so persistent and with respect to that, can a reward ever be removed if the reward is my attention?
    I notice layers of observation as I try on what you suggest there is a certain point that I meet surrender….and upset….and surrender again and then there seems to be a point where we BECOME observation

  8. Yes, the observer is on the other side of whatever patterns have kept you from her. They have kept you in an imaginary world, kept you from noticing fear and other things and emotions you didn't think were safe enough. The witness isn't afraid but is fully invested.

  9. Melissa Russell says:

    Im really impressed with how important my mind makes specific thoughts. LIfe or death edges that demand attention and action. To watch this in action and not act could be considered some of the entertainment eventually . (I look forward to this possibility ) Is it avoidance to give my mind something to do such as giving it specific tasks? I am also very curious about the feeling aspect that can be driven by mock emergencies as well.

  10. Giving your mind something to do, other than meeting the fearful aspects of you, is something that you must do, until you don't. And then you will meet the parts of you that you don't wish to meet and those parts keep company with the aspects of you that you most want and need to meet and you will meet all of them and you won't be afraid anymore. The light will be on inside of you and you will discover yourself as that light.

  11. It seems Daniel, that often poetry takes us where nothing else will. Thanks for sharing the poem. Poetry seems to offer the mind a very nutritious mixture of stuff and spaces!

  12. Ken says:

    I just might be a mind junky. My mind rewards my attending to it by coming up with daydreams which seem to release endorphins in my brain. It seems to be quite addictive.

  13. Brian says:

    Yes! This blog is possibly the clearest and most useful approach I've found in dealing with the effects of worry in my daily life. I am seldom aware of the phenomena that Stocking is referring to as he writes' What is and what you think are very different'.
    I suspect that I pay a price in terms of a compromised quality of life for that lack of awareness.
    I don't really know who Jerry Stocking is. He seems to offer an expanded view of life's everyday challenges. And for that, I am deeply grateful.