Who’s in charge? You or your mind?

Who’s in charge? You or your mind?

written by: Ms. Wendy Dolber
by: Ms. Wendy Dolber
Sophierunning (2) Sophierunning (2)

If only we could control our minds. Wouldn't we be invincible then? Nothing could get under our skin. No one could intimidate us. We wouldn't be afraid of anything. Our emotions would never get away from us. We could bring all our brainpower to whatever we are doing. Maybe we'd even be able to heal ourselves and overcome pain and suffering at will. Wouldn't we be happy then!

Perhaps the idea of controlling our minds is like trying to control an "unruly" puppy. It's the puppy's nature to want to play. Any responsible dog owner wouldn't expect a puppy to sit still all day long. Why even have a puppy? Perhaps the very thing we want to control in our minds is exactly the thing that makes our minds so wonderful. Our minds wants to play, skip from one thought to the next, resurrect memories at will, free associate, make connections, recycle thoughts,soundtracks, images, daydream, cogitate, imagine. And then, like a puppy, plop down for a good sleep.

We don't need neurologists to tell us that the mind (or brain if that is even different) is always looking for something to do. Yes, we can calm the mind by learning to let go of whatever the mind is doing, but inevitably the mind revs up again, looking for some action. Is that a bad thing or is that just part of the wonder of how our minds work?

So if we want to control the mind, what are we wanting to control? When we walk and our arms swings at our sides, do we say we need to control our arms. No, because that's what arms do. In fact, if they don't, it could be a sign of a neurological impairment. If we are trying to control how the mind works, what's the point? The mind is going to do its dance until it knows how to do otherwise. Just like that playful puppy who darts under a table when you call it. Eventually with training the puppy will come to you because that coincides with its nature as much as playing does.

So if we don't try to control the mind, how do we get what we want from it? What do we want? If we don't know that, what chance do we have of getting it? First of all, who, by the way, is asking? We only need to look at own experience to know. We can have the sense of a separate me and a separate mind. Some people say that means we cannot control the mind because it is separate. Some people say we can. Kind of like a mindful glass half full scenario. Or we do both from time to time. My mind wanders at a meeting and I bring it back to the task at hand. Or my mind cycles endlessly through an old hurt seemingly out of my control. What's the difference? Why do we sometimes easily change our minds and other times not?

How is the person who decides to keep her mind from wandering at a meeting different than the person who cannot stop dredging up old hurts? The simplest way to understand this is to understand how beliefs work. Regardless of whatever else is going on, we do what we believe is possible. For whatever reasons we may have. That is why it is so powerful to be able to identify our beliefs, understand their purpose and then decide if they are still valid. If we believe it is possible to change the way our mind is working at the moment, we do it. We cannot do it if we believe our mind shouldn't be doing what it is doing – if we believe there is something wrong with what we just did – if we believe it is out of our control. The person who keeps dredging up old hurts most likely believes doing so is out of her control – that there is something in it for her – that to stop doing it could be bad in some way.

So what is better? Learning to control our minds without really understanding ourselves or to learn how what we believe already dictates our thoughts, feelings and actions? Learning how our beliefs operate in any facet of our lives can have a profound effect on how our minds work. In fact, we don't really know what the mind's true nature is until we learn how to stop controlling it with self (or mind)-limiting beliefs.

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To your happiness,

Wendy Dolber