Friday, January 22, 2016

Change your mind, change your life? No, get rid of your mind!

Of course, we can't literally get rid of our minds. But we can figuratively, and that can make all the difference.

The old way of dealing with the mind was to control it.

Milton famously wrote:
The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.
So get control of your mind, right? That's the way to go. Well, we all know the mind is a powerful thing, but is control really the answer? I would argue the exact opposite. I would say that by letting go of control we can improve our lives—immensely.

The thoughts of our minds are fickle things. They're entirely subjective. One person loves cold weather, another can't stand it. The cold weather itself is neither good nor bad. Only the thoughts of our minds make it so.

The problem comes in when we take our thoughts literally. And the mind naturally tends toward this. You "can't stand" cold weather. Well, of course, you can, but when your mind tells you can't, the discomfort of cold weather takes on an out-sized significance in your mind.

In his excellent workbook Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life Steven C. Hayes PH.D. refers to the 'big ugly monster' of the mind. He writes:
The situation you are in now may feel like being in a tug-of-war with a big, ugly monster (whether you are dealing with depression, anxiety, physical pain, sorrowful memories, or some other negative situation). It seems as though you can't win. The harder you pull, the harder the monster pulls back. Sometimes it even may feel as if there's a bottomless pit between you and the monster and, if you lose, you'll be pulled into the pit and be completely destroyed. So, you pull and pull. You try harder and harder. You look for different ways to pull, better ways to pull, stronger ways to pull. You try digging in your heels for more leverage or you try strengthening your muscles. You keep hoping that something will work. Suppose, however, that you have a completely different job to do. Perhaps it's not your job to win this tug-of-war. Perhaps it's your job to find a way to drop the rope.
Wherever you are at in your life right now, most likely you have gotten there by relying on your mind. If you're satisfied with how your mind's done the job, hey, that's great. (But honestly if you're satisfied with that, you're probably not reading this article.) But if you're not, drop the rope.

Something (call it God, the Universe, a Higher Power, Universal Mind or whatever you want) will take over. And if you're not satisfied with where your life is at, what have you got to lose by dropping the rope? You know where your mind has gotten you, and if you keep tugging on the rope, it will only be more of the same.

So try a different way. Give it a day. See what happens.

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