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The mind is a fascinating set of faculties made up of sensation, imagination, will, memory, and thought.
Even more intriguing is our psyche, the totality of the human mind, the conscious and the unconscious.
Both involve the three-pound organ known as our brain, the most complex part of the human body that serves as the epicenter of our intelligence, interpreter of the senses, initiator of body movement, and controller of behavior.
But this isn’t a scientific musing filled with anatomy and physiology. It is a simple reflection on heartache and the dynamics of our psyche—the ways we get stuck and how we can reclaim our sanity when we find ourselves lost in our minds.
How often do we find ourselves saying, my heart is heavy?
There is a melodramatic flair in stating those words, the vision of a weary soul with a tear-stained face who feels as if she or he can’t go on. Dark circles under her eyes, a body in slow motion, and a mind so far away that she seems numb to the goings-on of everyday life.
How impactful would it be if we said our brain is heavy—that three pounds of tissue made up of gray and white matter, cells and small blood vessels? That our brain is feeling overweight and burdensome?
We say our brains are fried, most often when we are overworked or overtired—but never in relation to pain, suffering, loss, or heartache. It just wouldn’t paint that sad of a picture because of how we’ve come to know the heart. The symbolism of the heart is almost ingrained at the time of birth, and we carry the sayings throughout our lives without giving them much thought.
There’s no doubt about it. The heart is world-renowned as the symbol of love and affection, yet according to the History Channel, its origins are difficult to pin down. Some believe it is derived from the shape of ivy leaves, which depict fidelity, while others say it was mirrored after breasts, buttocks, or other parts of the human anatomy.
No matter what the belief, we consistently tout the heart when it comes to happiness, sadness, love, and loss. If you like country music, Tracy Lawrence’s lyrics will be running through your mind: “Cause I’ve got it through my head, I just can’t break it to my heart.”
Our hearts may be heavy or broken. We may be sad, low, and confused. We may feel the burden of loss, enduring sleepless nights and endless days, carrying around the pain of heartache like an overstuffed suitcase, busting at the seams.
But if we are rational, logical, and reasonable human beings, we realize that the burden all lies within our psyche—the mind that constantly walks down memory lane, fruitlessly attempting to figure what and when things went wrong and how the ending could have been rewritten, and the brain that meddles with our behavior, resulting in reactions and actions that may be out of the ordinary or compulsive in nature.
As I lay in bed one night, exhausted to the bone with eyes that were opened wide, staring at the ceiling, I found myself in a conundrum about a strained—if not severed—relationship. I was rehashing conversations past, recalling what seemed to be every interaction and relation, and I was stuck in this pattern of thinking. My mind was filled with whys, hows, whens, and what-ifs.
“Stop, just stop,” I said to myself aloud. I realized that my mind was like a car with a malfunctioning GPS. Countless rotaries, one-ways, and dead ends, yet I was the driver, so I asked myself what would happen if I were living my analogy—if I reached a one-way or dead end, if my GPS clearly kept rerouting me, yet I continued to idle in neutral or driving round and round, never choosing an alternate route?
The consequences were many.
I’d lose precious time. I’d eventually run out of gas. And ultimately, I’d never reach my destination.
I wouldn’t sit at the dead end, going over and over the streets I’d driven that eventually led me there. I wouldn’t drive around that roundabout for hours, contemplating which road to venture off. And I certainly wouldn’t drive up that one-way street over and over if it was a cul-de-sac that took me nowhere.
In that moment, I reclaimed my power and realized that I had complete control over my thoughts, emotions, and healing. I could either choose to stay lost, going around and round in circles, driving myself insane—or find a new way by choosing a new route.
As the days passed, I made it my mission to stay in the present, reminding myself that what once was is no more. I remained in a state of consciousness and mental clarity, in tune with my psyche, to lift myself out of the depths of hell and pave the way for healing, growth, and creating the future I want one day at a time.
When I caught myself wandering down memory lane, I stopped immediately—that was yesterday, not today.
When I caught myself rehashing conversations over and over, each time the words and emotions dulling in acuity, I stopped immediately—what’s done is done and what was said was said, you cannot change it.
When I caught myself trying to understand the thoughts and actions of the other person, I stopped immediately—there is no way to get inside of his mind and comprehend why he said or did the things he did.
Some people are fortunate enough to rewrite their endings, but most of us have simply come to the end, and if we want to heal from heartache, it starts in the mind—no matter how heavy our hearts may be.