The more I learn about how the human mind works, the more baffled I am that we are never taught anything about it.
Bullying, friendship and relationship drama, low self-worth, anxiety--issues most us face growing up would be much easier to deal with if we learned about the human mind, thus understanding ourselves and others better. A lack of understanding only causes these early life experiences to grow into bigger issues in adulthood.
As an adult, I see how many issues I have. And I also see that they all stem from my early life. Some from my childhood, some from my teenage years and some from young adulthood.
We all go through different experiences, and it is important to learn to process these experiences in a healthy way so that we don't draw faulty conclusions from them that stick with us for a lifetime. So that if someone says that we are ugly, we will not store that away in our minds as fact. Or when people make us feel uncomfortable, we don't develop a habit out of shaming ourselves for our feelings.
1. Nothing is what we think
We look at our thoughts as truths. We don't doubt them, and if anyone else doubts them, we get outraged. We think we remember the past and see the future. Because if it's in our heads, then it's bound to be true.
But our memories are only distortions of the past. And we never know what will happen in the future.
The feelings we are so afraid of--they are not like we think. Fear is not as scary as we think. Pain is not as painful as we imagine. Love cannot be thought. So many things in life can only be experienced, yet we believe that how we picture them is how they really are.
Just because we think something, doesn't not make it true. An opinion is not a fact. Thoughts don't come to life. And what we think doesn't define us at all--what we do does.
2. Feelings are not shameful
It is especially prominent in our society that we are required to hide our feelings, because we are supposed to act in a certain way. How unnatural and harmful.
We see this all the time with social roles like gender roles, but the same kind of thinking manifests in many unnoticed areas in our lives.
Any sort of "negative" feeling is frowned upon. We shouldn't be sad or anxious, and if we are, we should learn to hide it or pop a pill to just make it stop. It's unacceptable to feel. Feelings have become a sort of social plague that people cannot face neither in themselves nor in others. It's absurd, because it is the most natural part of being a person.
We are supposed to shun what makes us human. No wonder we have issues.
Our feelings are never random. They are not enemies, they are friends who carry important information about us. Not turning away from them, but learning to turn toward them is very important in understanding ourselves and others.
You have a place in this world, just the way you are.
But this does not mean allowing our feelings to control us. Feelings are still just feelings and thoughts are just thoughts. When we understand that, we are free of their control, and we can practice reacting to them the way we want. This is very important.
3. Pain is a good thing
Instinctively, we all want to avoid anything that is not comfortable. We chase joy and avoid pain. But pain, may that be emotional or physical, is a part of life. The more we try to avoid it, the more painful it will be when we can't.
We cannot avoid, we cannot control, we cannot repress. We just think we can. So we worry, we are anxious, we are crippled by fear. With avoidance, we only miss out on life.
Think of all the people or fictional characters you admire, the heroes, the cool ones. What makes them so awesome is that they don't mind what happens. They go into the uncomfortable instead of running away from it.
What makes someone strong is the willingness to go through their pain, whatever that might be. And in our own small ways, we can all do that. Pain of any kind is not a bad thing. It's an inevitable part of life. It's what can make us strong.
These are just three little things, but they changed my life dramatically once I realized them and started practicing them in my daily life. I wonder how different our lives would be if we realized them sooner.
"The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought. That's what we're going to discover again and again and again. Nothing is what we thought. I can say that with great confidence. Emptiness is not what we thought. Neither is mindfulness or fear. Compassion––not what we thought. Love. Buddha nature. Courage. These are code words for things we don't know in our minds, but any of us could experience them. These are words that point to what life really is when we let things fall apart and let ourselves be nailed to the present moment." - Pema Chodron