How much do you let your brain get away with?
Does the voice in your head insult you?
Does the voice in your head just say random, weird stuff that makes no sense?
Does the voice in your head narrate everything for you? When you walk by a tree it says "tree" and quickly follows that up with some kind of a judgment of that tree.
Does the voice in your head make up wild stories about all the horrible things that are going to happen to you?
Does the voice in your head keep talking about the same thing or replaying that same scenario ad nauseum for days or weeks on end?
Does the voice in your head keep you awake at night nattering on about who knows what?
Any or all of these things are a sign that your mind isn't under your control yet. What I want to offer you is the idea that you can gain control over your mind. Life with your mind does not have to look like this.
By the way all those things are the reasons why your thoughts matter.
How do those thoughts make you feel? That's why it matters because when it makes you feel like crap it's not helping you anymore.
A mind that is useful to you won't block you when you try to do something. It won't repeat the story forever. It won't tell you how awful you are. It won't make you afraid of your own shadow. It won't keep you up at night.
The mind is a muscle, a useful one at that, because it's what keeps our bodies running. We kind of need our brains. What we don't need is all the crap it wants to generate because we never taught it not to do that.
So how do we get control over the runaway train of a brain that we're currently stuck with?
When I started on this journey of getting a grip on my crazy mind, I started with the things that were screaming the loudest at the moment. What is on replay for you right now? That's probably not a hard question for you to answer because it's in your head constantly. It's probably replaying right now. That thing is low hanging fruit. It's one of the simplest places that we can use to start gaining some control.
At first all we're trying to do is shut the narrative down. We're not fixing anything. We're not healing anything. We're not understanding anything. We're simply not letting the mind say whatever it wants. We're not letting the mind stay in thought loops forever. What we're trying to do is show the mind that it has play by our rules now. We're engaging in a tug of war for control over our own minds. The first step is to show the mind that you're not going to pay attention to the nonsense any longer.
That's an easy paragraph for me to type, but having done this process myself I know for sure that it's not quite that easy to do. It takes a bit of persistence to get the mind to realize that it no longer has free will. You are essentially taking the cookie jar away from the toddler and then telling the toddler they aren't allowed to be mad. It's not really a reasonable request but that's what we're going to do anyway.
Here's why this will work eventually. The mind wants your attention. You are its only audience. You are the reason it puts on the show. So, if you decide you no longer want to watch the show, it has to change the show in order to keep your attention. At first, it's just going to be a little insistent. It's going to try to get you to go along with what its offering you, but at some point it will change its tune. Why? Because it wants to keep your attention. Your attention is far more important than whatever its rambling on about.
The real problem here is not actually getting your mind to shift because your mind will cave in quickly when you take your attention away. The real struggle is training yourself to consciously pay attention to your own thoughts. That's a whole different kettle of fish.
You will go for hours without really ever paying attention to what your mind is doing. You don't even realize you do this. That's why its so hard. It's because of how unconscious you are to your own thinking. Even when your mind makes you feel like crap, your first thought is not to question what went through your head. Your first thought is actually to look around you and find something to blame for the way you feel.
The goal of redirecting your mind away from repetitive thoughts is to help you become more aware of what's going on up there. Even if it takes you 3 days before you tune in and realize what your mind is doing, it's still a win because you recognized it at all. We're not going for perfection. We're looking to tiptoe our way into becoming fully responsible for every thought we have. The way we step into that is by starting to gain some control over repetitive thinking. We use repetitive thinking because it's the thing that's at the front of your mind. It's the most obvious thing you have going on in your mind in the moment.
Even if this was all you did for yourself, you would feel better. It's weird how quickly shutting down repetitive thoughts makes a difference for us. So much of what goes through your head is just repetitive ideas; it's nothing new. So shutting that down actually does quiet your mind considerably even without doing anything else.
This is what's going to allow you to become aware of more and more of your thoughts. The reality is that now you have fewer thoughts to control so it's already easier to manage. At first it's wildly overwhelming because your mind literally never stops. But once the mind can no longer play anything on repeat, there is a lot less going on up there. It's not nearly as overwhelming as it would have been.
Over time the mind will stop repeating itself. The next phase of that journey is to get control over what the thoughts are. Why is my mind offering me this idea right now? Is that idea even helpful to me? Is it actually just my intuition talking to me? How did that thought make me feel?
The process of questioning the thoughts to understand where they are coming from is where the healing actually is. You see we're not looking to squish anything. We're not trying to deny anything. To heal means to understand what the brain is offering you and why. What the mind is doing isn't random. It serves a purpose and a function in your life. Your job is to figure out what all the cycles and patterns of thought are and then heal them.
The brain is responding in part to old pain. When something happens in your world it often triggers old pain. The old pain triggers old responses, old habits, old patterns, and old behaviors. The mind helps you manage tries to help you manage your experience by triggering all that old stuff. Helpful isn't it?
Why does the mind do that? Because the mind only knows what it has already experienced. It will inevitably trigger the past because that's the only thing it knows. The future is an unknown and that will actually cause fear in the mind. The mind will project the past into the future, but it won't actually consider a future experience that is outside of an experience it has already had. That's just how the mind works.
The reason we want to get control over the thinking is so that we can bust into and break these patterns and habits. If we don't understand what the pain is that the mind is reacting to, we can't change it. The mind will keep us in unconscious patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior as a way to cope with daily life. It's just doing what it knows. It's not trying to be malicious.
Our thoughts inform everything else that happens. Being as aware of them as we can be is an important step in the healing process. What we'll end up doing is teaching the mind not to offer so much pain. We'll be able to shift the thinking and that will bust through a lot of those old patterns and behaviors. That will result in the healing that you're after.
Notice what we didn't do? No deep healing here. No shadow work in my world. Why? Because I focus on practical control over the human body you're in currently. We can't change what happened yesterday, never mind what happened in a past life, your parents trauma, or what will happen in some future life. The idea of digging through the emotional trauma that is present in any or all of those experiences as a way of healing, only seems to cause more pain. I don't believe in reliving trauma as a method of healing because unless you're willing to do something about the pain in terms of your thoughts and behaviors, you're probably not going change very much.
What I focus on is the idea that if we can learn to master the mind, the emotions, and the behavior then we can feel better in our lives, change them if we choose to, and be okay more often. We don't have to keep reliving the pain. One of the things that I commonly see in spiritual circles is people finding that the pain keeps showing back up in their reality. It's because they don't shift the behavior that stemmed from the pain. They are reacting as if they are in pain, whether or not they actually are. That reaction is what's triggering the old pain to appear. If you want the old pain to stop showing up, shift the behavior that was attached to the pain.
Your thoughts matter all the time because they affect everything else that happens. The affect your mood, they affect your choices, they affect your behavior, they affect your perception and your focus. When you realize how warped your mind truly is, you'll be happy you got some control over that mess. Believe me, it's worth the effort. You just have to decide that you're ready to take your power back from your own mind.
Love to all.
I can hear the objection from here - I cannot control thoughts I’m not aware of. You would be correct. You cannot. However, the emotions that come from those thoughts are clues as to what those thoughts might be. That is what gives you awareness and ultimately control.
We all have a subconscious, unconscious mind that does not need our conscious awareness to function. It happens in the background all day every day. It tries to be sneaky, but alas it is not very good at it. It gives itself up all the time. The only thing you have to do is be willing to notice when that happens.
Is it possible to find truth without pain?
Yes, I believe it is. I don’t believe the truth hurts. I don’t believe that the truth should be painful. If it’s painful then it’s probably not true because the truth isn’t in the pain. The truth is actually under the pain. The truth got buried by the pain, but the truth is not pain itself.
You’ve probably heard people say this and maybe you’ve said it yourself, “The truth hurts, doesn’t it?”. What is that about? It’s a projection of pain. We’re taking our perception of somebody, making it the truth, and then projecting that outward. We’re deciding what the truth of the other person is and then trying to use it as a weapon. That goes well doesn’t it?
Do you have a thinking problem? Do you think you have a thinking problem? Or are you just so used to your mind replaying things constantly, insulting you, arguing with you, and generally causing problems that you don’t even notice anymore?
The mind is a wild place to hang out mostly because we never get taught that we can do something about that. We’re never taught that the mind is a muscle that we can actually gain some control over. Now, are there things that the mind does that we probably shouldn’t have conscious control over? Of course. The mind does keep your heart beating, keep your liver and kidneys running, help regulate your body, and so on. The mind plays some critical unconscious functions that we absolutely need in order to keep our human forms alive. But there is one thing the mind does that we should have conscious control over and we just never bother to take it - it offers us thoughts that we do nothing about.
I’m aware of where I am in this process right now. I have realized how to balance all the work that I want to do so that nothing falls away. I’m attempting to create that new habit for myself as I write this. I’m in that place at the beginning of the formation of a new habit where I’m most likely to walk away from it. If I give myself a pass today, it will be harder for me to pick this back up on Monday (Yes, it’s Friday.). I’m having to push myself through this hurdle right now and that’s okay. This is what awareness looks like It’s also what Mind Over Matter is all about.
The mind doesn’t like the unknown and it doesn’t know what this new habit will change in the future. It only knows the past. It only knows that in the past I’ve walked away from most new things I’ve tried to create. There is a pattern there. That’s a cycle of pain that I’ve created for myself over a long period of time that I’m attempting to break right now. I’m even avoiding my tarot cards at the moment because they will distract me. My intention is to keep writing until this feeling changes or stops because that’s what will break the pattern.