Oh, the mind . . . With all of its fears and worries, it sure can make our lives difficult.
Every day, I'm trying to be aware of the thoughts in my mind, filtering out all that is untrue, harmful and not needed. I've been doing this for years. And throughout these years, I've learned a lot about my mind.
Your mind determines your life.
The way we think affects more aspects of life than we might realize. The way we think determines how we see the world. If we view it as hostile or friendly. If we are afraid of a stranger on the street. Or the dark at night.
It determines the way we see ourselves. What we think of ourselves determines how we will act. If we label ourselves in our minds, that's how we will act, since that's who we think we are.
What we think about the events in our lives affects our reactions to them. If we tend to see the problem in everything, we will be tired and moody a lot of the times. If we constantly worry, we will be anxious. These are all thoughts in our heads. Unnoticed whispers that dictate our lives, who we are and how we see the world around us.
The mind is creature of habit.
And that means we act out of habit.
I have always been an anxious person, even as a little girl. I don't remember a time when I wasn't constantly worrying about something, even when I was three years old. Now that I'm aware of the thoughts in my mind, I see how my mind's impulses never changed. It still has the same habits as it had when I was a child.
Day-to-day we have the same thought patterns. The same things make us angry, anxious or sad. It might seem like something new, but it's always the same thing. Every single time.
The mind can even find new triggers to achieve the same response if you're over the usual one. But it always finds ways to make you feel that usual feeling that you should be used to by now, but you're not, since it seems like something new every single time.
The mind's habits are hard to break.
We should learn to let go of our thoughts. Not to take them seriously. Know that they are just thoughts and nothing more. Not let them limit us or the people around us. Not let them taint the world we see with darkness.
Yes, it is possible. But the mind is stubborn beast. If life were a video game, the mind would be the final boss. Because if you clear that level, you clear everything. The world opens up. And you're free.
It's hard not to listen to the mind.
What makes rising above the mind so hard is that it's not easy to doubt our own thoughts. What can we trust in if not our own thoughts, right?
But that's the thing: our thoughts are just thoughts. They don't portray reality, they bend it and make us believe that that distorted picture is the truth. What we think of others is not truth. What we think of ourselves is not either. And how these thoughts taint the perception glasses in front of our eyes: How can that be anything more than distortion?
The mind does not know the future. It distorts the past. It even ruins the present with its worries and delusions. And it limits people. But in order to rise above it, we have to realize that we really don't know anything. And for us humans, who cannot leave a single question unanswered, even if it means inventing an answer, that is an incredibly hard thing to do. Like I said, final boss.
You can respond to your mind.
Humans are unique in the sense that we can be aware of our own thoughts. And that means that we can choose our response to our thoughts if we want to.
How this goes by default is that the mind produces some kind of thought, and we just go with it. Take a dog for example. You cannot explain to it that the sound of thunder means no danger. It will be afraid, because it doesn't know better. That's kind of our default setting as well.
When we think our partners might be cheating, we get jealous, even if they haven't done anything. When we think we might not be good enough for someone, we get sad or angry, even if we mean the world to that person. And if we think we're getting sick, we get anxious, even if it's only caused by the usual anxious thought in our heads. But humans can do better. That's the hidden level of the game--the level above the mind.
Even if that instinctual fear of thunder kicks in, we can respond to it by saying that there's nothing to be afraid of. And that fear inside of us might not pass until the storm does, but we won't run around in circles or hide under our beds like our dogs do. Because we know that the fearful thought and feeling inside of us does not coincide with reality. All it takes is a little bit of awareness.
And this is when we circle back to the fact that the mind is a creature of habit. Because once we know the habits of our own minds, we can recognize them. When we are angry or anxious or sad, we can know that it is the same thing that happened yesterday. Or the week before. We see the thought pattern behind the feeling. That thought pattern that is unique to us. And now we know that just like our instinctual fear of thunder, we don't have to take it seriously.
So we can react to it with peace. We can calm the mind that wants to rise above us so bad like a dark cloud. We can start being the masters of the mind, instead of being its slaves.
It is not easy. It is the biggest boss of the game. Maybe it's not even a boss, but the game itself. And every day we have to make an effort to go through a level. We might not be able to leave the game behind, but we can learn to master it. And even if it's hard sometimes, we can make it hella fun, that's for sure. It's just a game, after all.
“Mind: A beautiful servant, a dangerous master.” - Osho