Our Elusive Mind – Regaining Control

I know you! Your reading this article tells me that you are a cut above the average person. You are curious, don’t mind having to think, and have a grasp on the importance of ideas. I admire these qualities in a person.

In part 1 of this three part series on the human mind, I summarized that the mind could be likened to a slippery slope. A mound of guck that appears innocent enough, but in reality sucks you in. The further you go in trying to grasp it, the more elusive it becomes.

Part 2 is one of those good news, bad news stories. The good news is that there is still much to learn about our mind. The bad news: there are few ”break through” thoughts about the workings of the mind. My intent in this article is to dig a little deeper and to personalize with you how we have lost our minds, the results of this, and how we can regain control of it.

It is somewhere in infancy that we first become aware that there is an internal self, separate from and independent of our understanding of our external self. Now I don’t have any memory of this, nor is there any empirical data to support it, but I am convinced that as infants we develop and play a game that gives us great pleasure. If I were to name it, the game might be called “Parent, come here!” It is a response to one of the developmental limitations of infancy. As infants our lives can become very boring, so we find things to do. You and I can’t tell our care givers what we want or need, but we can send a message.

Our Elusive Mind - Regaining Control

Losing Your Mind

As we develop we begin to pick-up messages from our external world that our game is becoming a problem. We realize that if there is something we want, we just take it. Our internal world is establishing its own identity, a personality if you will. In order to avoid seeming to be too pushy or self-centered our mind begins to manipulate our interactions with the external world. These are the first steps toward our mind taking charge of our lives.

As we mature, this whole process develops into a series of automatic responses. Without a clue our mind has taken charge of our lives, leaving us to follow its lead. Too often this is how our lives remain.

The Outcome

When left unchallenged, our mind will take us to places we may not want to go. One response to this is that we develop a thing we call hindsight; our ability to observe things that we now believe should have been done differently. These observations are usually prefaced or followed up with “I wish I hadn’t done that,” but, what is done is done. The real problem is that we seldom change and end up doing the same things over and over.

It’s as though we keep applying the same wrong answer to our question when the issue is not the answer, but, that we insist on continuing to ask the wrong questions.

In part 1 I identified several roles that the mind will sometimes assume. Two of those roles are important enough to take a closer look at. They are:

The Role of The Merry Prankster: Not in the typical way, but more like the court jester of old whose role it was to do things, no matter how bizarre, to make the king laugh. In some ways it is as though our mind never outgrew those childish impulses of infancy. That “I am the center of the universe” view of ourselves. Those places where our internal self steps beyond the learned and acceptable external behaviors we proudly maintain.

Examples may include things like practical jokes, our behavior after a few drinks, driving recklessly, or being less than honest about some things.

A Liar: Examine what the voice of your internal mind tells you. Are the messages always accurate, truthful or even helpful? No, many times those messages are flat out lies told to us as a means of control.

Although there are many untruthful messages, the best example of this are messages about your self-perception. How often does your mind tell you things like?

  • You’re too fat (skinny, ugly, short, tall, etc.)
  • You’re a bad mother (father, friend, employee, boss)
  • You will never be able to do that
  • You’re stupid

Regaining Control of Your Mind

Imagine if you will, that your mind is constructed like a box. There are four walls, each fabricated from a different aspect of your life. Each wall houses the accumulation of your situations, the people, circumstances, and events. As long as you remain in the box you will live out your life in the middle of the box, never been able to regain control of the goings on (see illustration below).

mind box

Then one day you begin to recognize how dependent you have become on that internal voice. A voice that can be hurtful, even destructive, to you and those around you. How often are your responses and behaviors, not what you would prefer, but represent what your mind has instructed you to do? In due time you begin to see yourself as outside the box of your mind. Yes, everything is still there, only now you can take an entirely different perspective on the going on in your mind (see illustration below)

outside the box of your mind

How is this state obtained? You have several options, including:

  1. Committing yourself to learning all that you can about the relationship between the mind and the body, especially meditation.
  2. Finding an approach to meditation that makes sense to you.
  3. Setting aside time to follow a plan for regaining contact with your mind.
  4. Learning the language of your mind.
  5. Putting yourself back in charge.
  6. Celebrating life

We will discuss it in more detail in part three

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/67194724@N03/8732057278/


Tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.