The Dominance of Mind
My mind is the only barrier between me and thee...
The human experience is certainly an interesting one and one of the "things" that makes it so interesting is our minds and the effect of the thoughts we have on our lives. Life starts off innocently enough for when we are born we simply "are". We lack any particular concerns or goals, even though our consciousness is awash in the sensations of being alive, because these are aspects of our minds and at the start of our lives our minds are quite rudimentary. We perceive on many levels, even as children; however, it is not long before the physical elements of our experiences become intoxicating. I use the term intoxicating in the sense that we become almost completely immersed in the barrage of sensations our physical experiences provides. Our consciousness reacts to this barrage and as it does our rudimentary mind develops with an external focus.
Yet we are not our mind, it is merely the interface created by the experiences our consciousness has in the "reality" in which we find ourselves. Nonetheless it develops and grows as a result of our consciousnesses reaction to and integration of experiences. Being intoxicated by the experiences we have and our reactions to them gradually leads us to view who and what we are only through our mind and the thoughts and feelings we have. We identify with it and our true nature becomes trapped behind the walls our minds create. It is the minds dominance and the beliefs it comes to hold that also increases the challenge of resolving life issues and developing our spiritual awareness. Changing this means breaking our minds dominance.
The mind becomes dominant because we go from experience to experience, reacting to and integrating each in turn. In doing so our attention and therefore our mind becomes firmly focused on our physicality. This stifles the our other aspects and the awareness's associated with them . The end result of this is that we almost invariably experience "reality" exclusively through our mind. What also occurs as our minds develop is that we come to hold views, or beliefs, of reality that are incomplete, inconsistent and inaccurate as the mind virtually ignores all our other aspects.
The hold our mind exerts is very powerful and we tend to accept without question such things as the belief reality consists of separate and distinct things. Further, there is a whole host of other beliefs about our nature that blind us. Even beliefs about our spirit or consciousness are based on thoughts about it rather than being a conscious awareness of it. While we may consciously think we are beings of spirit and not mind; however, our mind creates such beliefs without our awareness of it. If you struggle with being empathic or having what is called second sight of various kinds then your mind is the limiting factor. We will not likely get past the beliefs our minds hold about what and what we are unless we work to not only understand but to change them.
This sense of separateness that our minds come to hold applies to the objects around us, be their furnishings in our house or the people we encounter. As I mentioned, even though we may have thoughts to the contrary such beliefs form early in life and we rarely realize they are even there let alone revisit and change them. Our mind, in all its aspects, is our ego. It is the barrier that prevents us from being in touch with and utilizing our other aspects even though they dwarf it in both power and potential. If you imagine that rather than looking at the world through two eyes you saw the world through a pinhole you get some idea of the magnitude of the restriction. Those with natural gifts do see more of what is there but even they are only looking through a more pinholes they too can also benefit from reducing the power we have acquiesced to our minds.
Our minds are very complex, not in their nature or the processes that build them and by which they functions. The complexity is due to the enormous number of thoughts we have and the connections between them. Within our minds are thoughts of different types and the degree to which they contribute to the illusion our minds create vary dramatically. In the first part of series Our Mental House titled The Dynamics of Thought (1) I examined various types of thoughts from atomic or simple to conceptual beliefs and root constructs. Atomic thoughts or simple thoughts are those that relate to properties of things such as colour or shape or hot and cold and so on. Note that while I refer to them as simple thoughts I mean this only in relation to the other kinds of thoughts we have for they are actually highly complex vibrations of energy (all "things" are comprised of energy in one form or another including thoughts and emotions).
Essentially simple thoughts vary from conceptual thoughts not due to their degree of complexity (unlike simple versus complex chemical compounds) as in the degree of connectivity they can have, which affects how the mind "uses them." The degree of connectivity of thoughts increases as one goes from simple thoughts to conceptual and root constructs. Root constructs are those that are at the top of a chain of thoughts, that is they are not themselves "part of" other thoughts (such as the thought "car" being part of or connected to the thought "transportation"). Each of us would can have different set of thoughts as our root constructs and though some are likely the same it is impossible to identify which ones they may be.
Understanding that there are different types of thoughts helps us to realize that not all thoughts are equal in their influence within our minds or in a sense over us and the consequences of having issues dealing with certain kinds of thoughts vary. Root thoughts are conceptual in nature and have the largest influence over our thinking processes and such things as the choices we make and "what we can and cannot do". Simple thoughts have the most significant influence over how perceive objects or "things" in our world.
It is important to note that the mind itself is not directly the source of our conscious thoughts, these are the result of the interaction between our mind and our brain. This is not a simple relationship and while they are independent our minds affect our brains and factors that affect our brains have a significant impact on our thoughts at both the conscious and non-conscious levels. We will not be looking at issues that arise due to problems within our brain, for that is the realm of neuroscience. This is why when one has psychosis of various kinds it is important to see a specialist to ensure our brains are functioning normally. In this essay we will be examining those aspects of mind that are primarily the result of issues within the mind. For example, challenges related to distinguishing one object from another or where one mixes up labels for objects or cannot label things properly are most often related to the mind-brain interface and beyond the scope of this essay, though I will touch on one point briefly.
For example, stroke victims often struggle with language and memory and while this is the result of trauma one can often deal with these issues by understanding that thoughts are not in the brain. By this I mean that we have a thought, which is a vibration of sorts impressed on energy of a certain type. Our brain translates the thought into what we recognize as a thought. Over time our minds tend to use the same neurons in the brain to translate particular thoughts so when the neurons are damaged we struggle. However, we know that our brains are somewhat "plastic" and the mind can be retrained to use other neurons. Children's minds are far more plastic than those of adults. Some of this is the result of our brain having specialized cells to deal with certain types of thoughts as well as how our brains develop and change over time in no small part due to repetition.
A byproduct of repetition is that our minds tend to use the same neural pathways to translate particular thoughts. A consequence of this, as what happens when our brains are injured, is that the mind will try to use the same pathways, unsuccessfully of course. This can lead to emotional reactions which results in one trying to force the thought through or out. However, by doing so the mind will continue to try using the damaged pathways. It is not dissimilar to what happens when someone tries to remember something in particular and they "strain" to find it and cannot. Then later, when they quit thinking about it consciously, it suddenly pops into their mind. This is because they have stopped trying to find it where they think it is. By this I mean they are consciously trying to find rather than allowing it's connection to other thoughts to lead them to it. This dependency also happens when we get complacent and allow ourselves to fall into ruts and why it is important to minimize the number of routines we have or the ruts we get into (2).
When we want to resolve the challenges we come upon in life or choose to grow either personally or spiritually we have to "deal with our mind". We cannot avoid this though there are many ways of approaching it, that is we can use some method, pursue a particular school of thought or simply go about their lives reacting to their experiences until the "light comes on" (which is what occurs when one has an epiphany or as some say the have a "woo" moment). Regardless of what method or approach one takes they all share something in common and that is that the mind is modified by conscious choice or it happens as a matter of course as a consequence of our experiences.
The reality is that we all know, somewhere within our consciousness, exactly who and what we are and the true nature of our existence. It just the very nature of our existence leads us to have a tendency to become lost to varying degrees in the illusions our minds create. To help dispel such illusions of minds I use two approaches. One is to go into some detail about how our mind works and the other is to speak in figurative terms about various aspects of our mind and the illusions it creates. The former works well for people who are left brain dominant, the latter for those who are right brain dominant (though the whole right/left brain notion is somewhat of a misnomer). While the two approaches are quite different they both serve the same purpose and that purpose is to train the mind.
I use the word train deliberately for as I mentioned, we naturally know how our mind works and what we are, we are just not conscious of it. For this reason the mind does not need to be informed, it needs to to be trained to allow what it knows to flow into our waking consciousness. The challenge for everyone of us is that our our minds are in control, and are not only caught in the illusion that we are our minds we are caught in the illusion it creates. It is very much like being trapped in a persistent dream state and not knowing it. In this state our non-conscious mind is in control and to change that we need to act in a conscious manner. One of the first challenges is that the mind has a history and often demands proof before shifting. This is somewhat reminiscent of the saying "I'll believe it when I see it." The problem here is that it has blocked us from "seeing it" by the way we are raised and come to think so we are often left waiting for proof that our own minds won't let us see. This blockage is primarily due to our beliefs but also to what and how we think at the conscious level.
Our thoughts about things, including our beliefs, are manifested as a result of what and how we have "thought" in reaction to our experiences at the conscious level for our non-conscious mind takes it's directions from our conscious mind. If we do not deem something important then our sub-conscious mind takes on that thought or belief. If we casually accept certain things as being the case or simply accept what others say without consideration our minds will, based on previous experiences that are similar, decide what it is we believe. It will base its decision on other thoughts it holds, valid or not.
Where our mind lacks information it will fill in the blanks using past experiences that are similar and we are not typically aware of what beliefs it takes on. When you think about this it is easy to see how our non-conscious mind ends up being dominant and why we struggle to change our reactions to experiences. This also shows itself in the things we come to like or dislike and want or don't want and so on. We call this our personality and our personality is not rigid or fixed it is just the summation of our reactions to our experiences and how our mind integrated them. In a very real way our minds are like a great ship and if we want to grow then we need to steer it onto a new course.
At this point one may wonder how this all relates breaking our minds dominance and retrain it? The answer lies in the nature of how our minds work. The minds dominance is due to the power we have given it over the years, hence the way to break the dominance is to cease allowing it to decide things for us and give it new "orders". Our minds have a body, that being all the thoughts and their various interrelationships, and it has inputs and outputs.
The minds inputs come from our experiences and how we integrate them and the outputs are our conscious thoughts and decisions and so on that lead to the various outcomes in our lives. In between the two lies the body of our mind, which is all those thoughts we've manifested and the various relationship that have built up between them. We created our minds and the thoughts it holds, albeit mostly non-consciously and we are their master, not the other way around. What he simply acquiesced control and need to re-assume it. By understanding our minds and the way these three aspects work together we can break or at least greatly reduce our minds dominance. This understanding begins with a quick review of the the body of our minds, our thoughts.
Our mind is comprised of thoughts, thoughts that form many different relationships. Figuratively speaking, not all thoughts are created equal, as I mentioned, as some play a greater role in how we think, act and react. The most influential thoughts we have are those of a conceptual nature, especially those I term root thoughts. I touched on simple thoughts already, in that they are generally those that label properties of things. Complex thoughts are combinations of simple thoughts that label "things" that have multiple attributes. Conceptual thoughts are abstract thoughts in that they are not tied to specific objects. They include thoughts about other thoughts, which can be simple, complex or even other conceptual thoughts.
For example, when I am looking at a particular jar on the kitchen counter the mind manifests a complex thought to "label it". That thought includes the attributes of the jar such as its size, shape and colour and so on. However, when I am thinking about container's I am thinking about the properties that define those "things" which can contain something and not a specific container. The jar on the counter would certainly qualify as a container; however, so too does the drawer of a cabinet, a coffee cup or even a vehicle (which can contain people or other things). In this case the conceptual thought is about the properties of container's in general rather than the attributes of a particular jar, drawer or vehicle.
Conceptual thoughts also include such thoughts as good and bad, right and wrong or better and worse and so on. The influence of such thoughts should be obvious. We have a variety of thoughts related to "what is good or bad" for example. We apply these conceptual thoughts to most things in our world as well as to just every other belief or notion we have such as being friendly to people is good, fresh apples are good or cars that go fast are good and so on. In some cases the idea of good and bad or right and wrong can become root thoughts, where a root thought would be any thought that is not subject to another thought. For instance, believing that one can apply the labels of good or evil to everything and that nothing can override this idea may very well be root thought; however, if that belief is subject to the idea that good and bad are not fixed and rigid then it is not .
A good way to identify whether a belief/thought is a root construct or not is whether the thought has any constraints or conditions that can be applied to it. When there are no "ifs" or "it depends" associated with a thought whatsoever then it is a candidate to be a root construct. This occurs more rarely than we realize. For example, good and bad are not likely applied universally to all beliefs or "things" and so on. The reason is in no small part due to our lack of clarity in our definition of what is good versus bad. As a result we apply these beliefs to specific to a subset of things that is usually applied based on conditions, which can be in conflict. We experience this when we find ourselves torn over a choice we have to make.
Conceptual thoughts have an enormous influence on us. The challenge they present is that, in many cases,we did not consciously decide what they are. Our minds often determined what they are for us. It does this in the background, at the non-conscious level. For example, a thought such as "container" is not something we tend to consciously decide. Our minds figures it out from repeat experiences. We may become consciously aware of the label "container" and then apply it to things that we see as meeting the attributes of a container, but this occurs after minds have some idea of what a container is before we do this. That is it had already created thoughts that match it's interpretation and to which we apply a label. What we might do after the fact is consciously adjust our concept of what a container is or even change the label.
Modifying thoughts such as as those I just mentioned are generally not a big challenge. This is because thoughts such as those that define container are not ones that under most circumstances would affects our thoughts about ourselves or the nature of our existence or our lives and so forth. It is these types of thoughts that that provide us with our most significant challenges. This happens when our thoughts are false, invalid, vague or incomplete.
We experience continually and our minds process our experiences in the background. We almost never consider or analyze every aspect of our experiences as they occur, our conscious mind cannot consider so much at once. For example, as children we try many things and experience the results of our choices. Depending on our reaction to them we may or may not like the results. We then, typically at least, apply judgments to the results such as they were good or bad. We do not often consciously compare the results to past experiences as we may not consciously remember them; however, our mind NEVER forgets the past and does this without our awareness of it. We also do not consider precisely what about it was good or bad about the experience. As a result we leave this determination up to our non-conscious mind. So, if we experienced a series of outcomes where our reaction was that the outcomes were bad our minds will formulate a belief around them such as "when I do this the result is always bad".
The problem with this is that there were likely reasons it didn't work out as we had expected or hoped or desired that our non-conscious mind did not factor in. It did not factor it in because we were focused on the feeling of "bad" rather than consciously considering why things might not have turned out how we expected or wanted. We may not even be aware that our minds have come to this conclusion nor that, as a result, we have avoided any similar situations since then. This is how we can come to avoid certain experiences but cannot articulate why. Further, we may not even be consciously aware we are avoiding them.
The above illustrates how our minds will take the initial inputs, the experiences we have and process them based on a combination of our past reactions to similar experiences and our conscious thoughts about the experience at the time. The influence of our conscious thoughts is dependent on a number of factors including how focused our attention is, the nature of the thoughts we consider and our emotional reactions at the time. It is not deciding on it's own for it is our conscious thoughts or lack thereof guide how it integrates experiences. There is an old saying, "as above so below", we can use a similar phrase for our minds, at least from it's perspective, "as without then within".
Our minds can even take on more subtle thoughts. For example, if someone is always around when bad things happen or certain elements seem to be present during these experiences we can end up attributing the bad outcome to them even if they have nothing whatsoever to do with the outcome. This example also applies to when good things happen. This is the source of many superstitions and often of those "bad feelings" we get (note, we must be careful that we are not misinterpreting such "feelings" as intuitions and vice versa). This is also how we end up living and deciding things based on our non-conscious minds notions about things. Such notions are rooted in the past rather than our conscious thoughts in the present moment and both how and why our non-conscious minds become so powerful. The plus is that by understanding how our minds become dominant we can start to reverse the process.
The are several keys to reversing the process. One is to pay attention (3) as we go through life and to think about our experiences fully and not exclude anything when we do so. What we ought to be doing is paying attention to the full experience we are having, which means not being superficial in our observations. Further, we should use our reasoning skills to consider whether our reactions are logical, valid and justified and so on. By valid reasoning I am referring to not jumping to mistaken conclusions about things. One of the most common examples would be what is referred to as using anecdotal evidence. Say we meet a few people with long hair and they all seem to be arrogant people and we may then come to think that all people with long hair are arrogant. We do not know this to be true, what we know is that from our perspective the long haired people we have met are arrogant. But what applies to some does not necessarily apply to all. If we are not conscious of our thoughts we will be completely unaware of the belief our minds manifest as a result of our reactions. As the old saying goes "garbage in...garbage out". A few common examples of poor reasoning are listed below.
- "I know what you are thinking"
- "I know why you did or said that"
- "I know what you are going to say"
- "I knew what you meant by that"
- Absolute belief in what someone tells us because we like or trust them
- Dismissing what someone says because we dislike or distrust them
- Basing our opinions of others on stereotypes
We do such things frequently though the manner in which we do them may be subtle and can escapes being noticed. While I certainly do not discount that one can "get information" from another through empathy or telepathy, we rarely do accurately. The thoughts we have almost always are based on our own thoughts about their thoughts and feelings. In addition, not only do people do the same things for entirely different reasons, no two peoples mind process information the same. Another challenge we can have is in listening to others. We often listen with the intent to respond rather than to understand.
We are also easily capable of observing more fully rather than superficially; however, the mind has a strong tendency to focus on certain elements of our experiences while excluding others. Also we often do not take the time to consider our experiences and reactions to them before acting on our reactions. In order to change this we must start to be more in the moment and less focused on "what's next" or what pursuing whatever it is we desire or want. We are also capable of good reasoning, though our minds will not do this of their own accord. They do not contain a logic chip to gauge whether the thoughts we have make sense. Our reasoning skills are in fact thoughts that our minds use, among other things, to integrate or process our reactions to our experiences.
We need to train our minds to use valid reasoning and if we do not have this skill we should work on developing it. This notion reminds me of a scene in the first Star Wars movie where Obi-wan is trying to teach Luke Skywalker how to use the force. He says to him "Your eyes can deceive you, do not trust them", which I would rephrase as "Do not trust your mind, it can deceive you."
This is why it is important or certainly of value to consider our reactions to experiences and not just how we think and feel about them but also why. We should do this more often rather than simply move along to the next experience, we can do this by practising mindfulness. The inputs, our experiences and reactions to them lead to changes in the body of our mind, which in turn affects the outputs which are our actions, choices and so on and the outcomes we have. These outcomes come not only in the form of the results we have, the consequences of our choices, but also in the very thoughts we have. We then react to the consequences and continue the loop. In between our mind continually integrates our reactions, it is an ever churning cauldron of thoughts.
In order to shift our minds away from superficial observation and often faulty or incomplete reasoning we have to make it important. Considering it casually will not change years of history and the momentum of the thoughts we have already created. They will not "turn the ship." Further, just doing this alone will not open up our minds or allow us to resolve the erroneous, conflicting and contradictory thoughts within it. What is needed are thoughts that guide how we interpret experiences, such thoughts are our beliefs about who and what we are, our values, our ideals and so on. For instance, many are caught by the conflict between what is "right" and what is "good" for us. Do I take care of myself first and then others or are there times when the needs of others matter more? Is it okay to do something that benefits me but is "wrong" if I won't get caught or no one will be the wiser? Of course these are ethical questions but our ethics are also beliefs. This is similar to what we looked at earlier in terms of our beliefs about good and bad.
What I am describing here has parallels on the Eightfold Path of Buddhism. The path, being the way to end suffering, is listed below (related paths in bold).
- Right Understanding: Learning the nature of reality and the truth about life.
- Right Aspiration: Making the commitment to living in such a way that our suffering can end.
- Right Effort: Just do it. No excuses.
- Right Speech: Speaking the truth in a helpful and compassionate manner.
- Right Conduct: Living a life consistent with our values.
- Right Livelihood: Earning a living in a way that does not hurt others.
- Right Mindfulness: Recognizing the value of the moment; living where we are.
- Right Concentration: Expanding our consciousness through meditation.
We may have notions about our non-physical aspects but they tend to be vague and often based on what others have told us or written about and not our own experiences and valid understandings of them. One of the challenges that arises from this is that our mind extends the view that we are separate from the world around to that of our consciousness, our core being, making it separate as well. We then become trapped by invalid conceptual beliefs. Our mind does this because we pay virtually all of conscious attention to our physicality and takes on the belief of separateness. Experience also tells our minds that we cannot merge with other physical objects. We cannot do this physically; however our consciousness is not restricted by physical constraints and can in a very real way merge with the energy of other objects. For example, when two people hug their physical bodies do not intermingle, but their energies or auric field can. Anyone who has hugged someone deeply can feel the other person as if they were part of them rather than separate.
It is these kinds of thoughts that lead to a false view of self that in turn provide a challenge for those who seek to grow spiritually and to awaken their other awareness's. They lead to illusions such as dualistic notions and the beliefs of separateness that start when are very young and grow stronger as we grow up. Most seekers are aware of this, to varying degrees and are aware of the challenge. Not only do such beliefs make it harder for those who are on a spiritual path it also makes dealing with life issues more challenging than they need be. Further, people greatly underestimate the power beliefs have to limit us. If one wants to grow, especially in a spiritual manner, they need accept just to how insidious and restrictive our beliefs can be.
I realize that it may be hard to accept that our beliefs alone can have such a significant affect on what we perceive and what we are able to do but I assure you they can and do, Over the years I have worked with many people who have tried to expand their awareness without success and who after being made aware of what I have written about here, and with some practice, soon found themselves able to sense "beyond the physical". Recently a young man I became acquainted with mentioned the same challenge, despite have devoted years to practices that should have enabled his broader awareness. I told him to focus his attention on his beliefs on the "nature of self" , to examine and work to change those that restrictive and limited his definitions of self. Within a short period of time he was "seeing auras" for the first time, that he could remember at least.
Beliefs are every bit as restrictive for those who do not hold "spiritual aspirations" and who simply wants to deal with and get past the issues they encounter in life. The reasons are much the same as they are for those on a spiritual path, the main differences being the kinds of issues and challenges one is dealing with and depth to which they may go to resolve them. There is one other difference in that those on the spiritual path often have slightly greater access to their non-rational awareness (those that do not arise from having a body). As a result they may have a slightly larger tool set to use when resolving life issues or to further expanding their awareness.
The core beliefs that restrict us, whether we are trying to resolve life issues or are seeking to do that develop our spiritual aspects and overall awareness, are much the same. One of them I mentioned, that being the dominance of the belief that we are physical beings but there many others that do so as well. I am referring to beliefs around our existence such as those about the nature of our minds, what emotions are or thoughts around whether we attract the experiences we have to learn from versus their being random or we are beings of "spirit" who take on a physical form and so on. In terms of personal growth realizing how our minds function, how they process our experiences and the consequences of that to how we think and feel, empowers us to find and work on the thoughts and beliefs that are resulting in problems or challenges.
Getting past our limiting beliefs can be a challenge, there is no getting around that. A fair number of the beliefs we hold are either quite strong or highly connected or both. Beliefs can become strong if they have been reinforced over the years or were the result of strong reactions to an experience. Even though it may seem we would take a different approach to the two challenges we do not need to. When we consider the dynamics of thoughts we can clearly see that with the only difference is that with highly connected thoughts we must untangle the web (5) and work on the various thoughts that are part of it.
How we approach dealing with limiting beliefs depending on our personality and situation. Personality is a factor in terms of how analytical, direct and motivated we are. The reason is we can spend too time in analysis and not act, we can be too direct and miss key elements or if we are not motivated we can dither too much. The mind is not something to be trifled with; however, we should we be afraid of making changes to it as it changes continually whether we are aware of it or not. In terms of our situation, we should work on what is at hand. If what we are doing is trying to sort out our lives in general or are deciding what path we will chart then we may have some choice in what we work on. When we have issues that are affecting us here and now our choices are likely to be far more limited. In either situation we should consider working on what we feel we can deal with most easily. This develops our skills and success can be an excellent motivator and confidence builder.
In either case when we do decide to work on any limiting or problematic thoughts or beliefs we change them by opposing them directly with the thought or belief we would like to instill in ourselves. Naturally we only do so once we have identified what we are going to work on (6). Clarity of intent is important because if we are vague or inaccurate in directing our conscious attention we are wasting our time and energy, and could in fact be directing energy at the wrong target. The result could very well be changing a thought form the wrong way, one that is not a problem or may even be beneficial.
By taking a direct approach I mean facing limiting or invalid beliefs directly and countering them thoughts that are diametrically opposed to them. Further, we must have the thought we are working with firmly in mind, otherwise it is like trying to explain something to someone who is not listening. Once we have the thought in mind we can then work on it. For instance, let us say we have realized that we are too trusting of people. We do not change this by the though of "I will not trust people", we change it with the thought such as "I should not automatically trust people" and consider how we will evaluate trust in them. When we do so it should be with as much conscious attention as we can muster. How long we need to continue to do so depends on the strength of the belief regardless of whether it is fairly isolated or part of a knotted tangle of beliefs. The biggest single factor is our commitment to resolving them and how much energy we put into it. Once we are determined to deal with them the next matter is which to deal with first, though as I mentioned if our situation calls for immediate action we may not have much choice in what to work on.
Earlier I mentioned that there are inputs and outputs to our mind and this is where the outputs matter. Outputs are the outcomes in our lives, the events that occur. Our experiences in the here or the outputs. They show us what we ought to consider dealing with first. Once we start to work on one issue we are likely to find that what appeared to be a single issue is actually part of a web of interconnected beliefs. While this can lead us to get distracted with secondary concerns we should remain focused on the task at hand.
Let us say, for example, we are dealing with a tendency to get angry quickly and that after contemplating it we notice that we get angry when someone questions our intelligence. We then set about working on not being bothered by such questions only to find that once we do that we notice we get angry over whether others trust us or not or our appearance and so on. This happens because our anger did not arise only when our intelligence was questioned, it is actually tied to a lack of self esteem in general. As a result we will only get over such reactions when we address the underlying and deeply rooted self esteem issue.
All of our issues are originally tied to beliefs of one form or another. That said once we have taken on a belief and have acted on it for a prolonged period of time it manifests itself in the form of habits. It also can have taken on an unrecognizable form or even affect us in different ways. We may have to do some detective work to find the actual issue or issues. Another example would be a situation where we are dealing with a problem at work in that we are struggling with our focus and it is affecting our performance. The issue could actually be our focus and our loss of focus is due to issues in personal life, it could be we do not like the kind of work we are doing or the atmosphere at work or our relationship with our boss or any one of a number of other things.
To find out what our issue(s) may be we need to spend some time considering what is going on. We can also see a psychologist and talk through it. This can help allow the issues to surface so we can "see" them. We can do this with a friend, on our own in meditation or quiet contemplation or even use automatic writing as a way to try to get at what is going on with us. We can follow a similar method if our issue is we just aren't happy and do not know why, though when this happens it is almost invariably due to a number of issues rather than one in particular.
At this point you may be thinking that the complexity is too much to deal with and debate whether it is of any value to bother with such things or not. It is a perfectly legitimate question, one that has kept many from bothering at all. Instead they tinker here and there and try to make minor adjustments along the way. This is a coping mechanism and in and of itself is perfectly valid as we certainly do not have to consciously work on ourselves at all if we so choose. Some may find fault with this in other and even themselves but this is typically due to a belief that we are all generally the same and does not recognize the fact that our minds while similar are unique. Further, we do not all have equal measures of personal power.
What can seem like a mole hill to one is a mountain to another. When we accept that this is the case we find we judge others less and so are less harsh and more understanding with others as well as ourselves. This alone can make accepting others as well as ourselves for who and what we are easier, which also reduces our resistance to working on our own personally challenges. When we realize and accept that we are not our mind, which is based on our beliefs about who and what we are and the nature of our existence, we are freer to deal with the judgments and limitations that have been built into it over the course of our lives. In the process we not only bring more balance into our lives, we are also happier people. This alone makes the notion of working on our thoughts and beliefs worth the effort.
© 2014 Allan Beveridge
Last updated March 1, 2019