How your mind can be your strongest ally or your worst enemy
Our mind is a tool, a very powerful one. Anything that has the potential to shape the way we view and interact with the world around us is powerful.
The best investment of your time and energy is to learn how to use your mind to work for you, rather than against you. Or, as Jen Sincero, author of You Are a Badass, says:
Your brain is your bitch.
So, you have the RESPONSIBILITY to make it work for you.
Imagine what the possibilities of having a mind working for you will be,
- Experiencing presence and focus during your day-to-day (YUP, even during the most mundane of tasks)
- Re-wiring your brain to experience optimal memory and learning
- Having emotional resilience and improved stress response (no baby daddy drama for me ;)…jk, I need some time on that one)
- Having an actual peaceful and restful sleep
- Being able to say BUH-BYE to thoughts of the past and fears of the future
Essentially, you’ll be BOSSED UP.
Now, a mind that’s working against you? It looks a little something like this:
- Identifying with your fearful, anxious, and depressive thoughts (i.e. being mentally stuck in your past, or in the future)
- Making fear-based decisions, like, I dunno, staying at your shitty job because you’re afraid to expand your horizons (vs. making growth and #bossedup decisions)
- Doing something REALLY stupid because you were triggered by your mental or emotional pain
- Being unable to figure ish out because you’re stuck on your confused, fogged up thinking
Within your control, you have all the tools available to make your mind working for you. No excuses.
Let’s explore how.
Step one: cultivate awareness of thought
Our brains have an average of 50,000 thoughts a day. For the untrained mind – a whopping 70% of them are negative. Isn’t their comfort to know that you’re not crazy, after all?
Once you’ve become aware of something, you have that much more power to do something about it. Therefore, it goes without saying – PAY ATTENTION to your thoughts. Become aware of them without judgment. Being objective makes it easier for you to see them for what they really are.
Pay special attention to not only your thoughts but also to how they make you feel.
Your feelings give your thoughts energy. If you ever feel a “negative” thought arising, you could simply acknowledge the thought- through awareness – then to the best of your ability, consciously allow the feeling to subside. The thought will probably linger on, but you don’t need to resonate with it; no need to give it energy through staying in that feeling state. (DOH! Easier said than done, right? Well, just practice doing it, little by little. It’s a process.)
BY THE WAY: When I say “negative” thoughts, I mean the thoughts that have the potential to cause you to harm yourself or others. Classifying them as “negative” is a slippery slope because by doing so, you are judging it. Try to move from judgment to simply observe it for what it is.
I KNOW for a fact that I’m not alone in having thoughts that are completely irrational, yet feel so very real and actually create suffering. I could be laying down, relaxing one second, and then find myself feeling stressed out over all the things I still need to get done. Instead, I’ve learned to let these thoughts go, like removing files from a file cabinet and allow myself to simply be.
This is why meditation is just awesome. Personally, it has helped me become aware of my thoughts and how they feel in my body. Now, when those sleazy thoughts come up or are about to, I can take a second to notice, become aware and make my next move from an empowered state of mind. Awesome, right?
You will no longer be victims of those adverse thoughts that bankrupt the joy in your present moments. 🙂
(I’m totally just kidding, this process requires work and commitment, so buckle up!)
Step two: focus on the breathe & allow the thoughts to flow with no resistance
Meditation allows the mind to quiet down. When you are meditating, you are essentially prioritizing the act of simply being. Allow the thoughts to flow. This is a perfect opportunity to check-in. Which mental habits have you accumulated all these years?
Hint, hint: it may take you another set of years to uncover the answer to this, or it may not… but it’s all a part of the journey. Have faith and feel assured that you are being supported throughout the process. Things will happen in perfect timing #affirmit #patience #woosa.
Mental habits are just that. Habits. They can be changed. Oftentimes, we are making decisions based on our unconscious thinking. By making the unconscious conscious, you are stepping into self-awareness.
Reminder: be patient. One of the things I had to learn on my journey is that I needed to be patient with myself. I had often (and still do sometimes) make decisions based on my mental programming and emotional triggers. But, because of my commitment to cultivating awareness throughout the process, I have stepped into deeper levels of self-love and understanding. I can now forgive myself and drop the burden of thinking that I need to be perfect.
Step three: re-write your Narrative
Once you realize that your thoughts are not your own, your mind is already 50% towards being your best ally.
Learning how not to identify with your thoughts opens new doors of self-realization and understanding to not only you but the world around you. You are not limiting your experiences to the narratives that you tell yourself.
Think of your thoughts as falling into 2 categories: passive and active. The passive thoughts are the thoughts you think about, without even thinking, haha. Makes sense? You’re not putting any conscious effort into thinking these thoughts. They exist because of years and years of programming, so they happen without you being aware. It’s like you’re living your life on autopilot. Pay attention to how this plays out for you. What are the mental habits that you’ve become accustomed to? What are the narratives that you tell yourself?
Active thoughts, on the other hand, take conscious effort. In this stage, you’re not simply accepting any thought that arises. You’re not only questioning every thought AND its source, but you’re feeding yourselves the ones that you would prefer to accept as truth. Think of it as guarding your subconscious mind.
Do you want to think thoughts like:
- I am a worthless piece of shit
- Everyone and their mom is conspiring against me
- I’m ugly, fat, too skinny, unattractive, etc.
- I can’t accomplish X, Y, and Z because I’m [insert every shabby word here]
- Etc., etc.
Or, would you rather embrace thoughts like:
- I am loved UNCONDITIONALLY by God (Source Energy, my Higher Self, whichever one resonates)
- My dreams are fully supported
- I am talented, I can accomplish all that my heart desires
- Time is on my side
- Etc., etc.
And this is power. Because only you can guard your mind, and uncover and embrace your own truth.
Oh, and be wary of those tricky thoughts that don’t exactly say “I am worthless,” but may inadvertently do so (*cough, cough* when you compare yourself to others).
Do everything in your power to ensure that your thoughts are true to you (for those stubborn thoughts that my mind holds onto for dear life, I like to fight that battle in prayer 😉 ). These thoughts make-up your belief system. Your belief system darn right controls everything that you have and will experience. For example, two people could be going through the same exact experience, but experience it differently, simply because of the belief systems they hold dear and near. Guard your thoughts and re-write your narrative. Here’s a better example:
The life-sucking, disempowering, victimhood narrative:
“It’s 9pm. I still haven’t had the chance to write that cover letter for that job application (that I secretly despise and don’t even like it, not even a tad bit passionate about it but hey, the bills need to be paid, right?). I have so much to do… time is really not on my side. Everything is piling up on me and I’m super stressed! Why does life have to be so hard? When can I get out of this rat race? FML!”
WAAAAACKKKK. Who wants to go through life with this sort of mentality? Not. I.
The narrative based on self-love and empowerment:
“I haven’t done what I said I would today. I have tons of energy and plans, which is amazing…kudos to me. I’m definitely inspired and motivated because I know that I want more out of life, and I KNOW that I can achieve it. I do feel like I have the breaks on, though. What can I do differently throughout the day? How can I “energetically” take the breaks off? I’m going to rest, get up in the morning, and conquer tomorrow. I may not be perfect, but I got this.” And off to bed, I go.
Isn’t that just a breath of fresh air?
The narratives you chose to tell yourself become self-fulfilling prophecies. Chose them wisely.
Tip: doing this right before bed is even more impactful as it sinks into your subconscious mind.
If it helps, do this from a 3rd person perspective. See yourself laying on that couch. Complaining. Give it a tad bit of energy. Go ahead, entertain it, it won’t hurt.
Whatever this looks like for you, sit with it and ask yourself what does it feel like? It’s okay to consciously allow yourself to indulge in this feeling state. The goal is to face it. Then once you’ve done that, tell yourself your preferred narrative. And then, TAKE ACTION.
- Our minds are powerful, and it would be a wise decision to invest in learning how to leverage this for you.
- Practice being aware of your thoughts and the feeling it generates. Probe into the thoughts behind the thought. Meditation helps.
- Re-write your narrative; you can try speaking to yourself in the third person perspective. If the narrator of your story is a loving guide and mentor, how would your story sound?
Is your mind your best ally? If not, what steps will you commit yourself to take right NOW to change that? Drop a comment below and let us know!