If you've ever felt bullied by your mind or pushed around by your thoughts all day long then this blog is for you. The biggest myth about your mind is that you can get it to stop. You will never, ever achieve this.
BUT instead, what if we can approach our inner world thoughts, stories and beliefs with a fresh and powerful tool that will minimise the power that your stories currently have over you?
Have you ever looked in the mirror and heard your mind say "you are fat" or "you are stupid" or "you are hopeless" or ever called yourself names or put yourself down...perhaps repeatedly? Have you ever wondered what it is that is cranking out all those thoughts and stories all day long? Or worse you believe the stories and names you call yourself and your whole day or even life has been dictated by the tape recorder in your mind that just keeps cranking out the same old unhelpful stories?
No more being bullied by your mind. It is neither friend nor foe. A more transformative compassionate approach is needed if we wish to live in the moment - not dictated by our stories.
Human Beings Have A Knack Of Kicking Themselves When They Are Down
Us humans, we are strange at times, and we have a way of being extremely hard on ourselves. We like to have a go at ourselves often and we do it more-so when we are going through periods of stress and struggle. Sometimes I ask my clients to write down their most painful thoughts and feelings. The ones we tell ourselves that no one else hears. And there isn't a dry eye in the room when we say them out loud. Sometimes I'm downright shocked that this person who looks so together and brave on the outside is literally torturing themselves with multiple stories inside their head all day long, and worse, they both believe and live by those stories. Their stories are dictating their life like a mean bully. And the only reason it happens to be this way is that we have never cultivated the tools to do it differently.
I've always wondered if we were some kind of alien experiment. Why we were equipped with a beautiful mind that can create such wonderful things that then could also be so dangerous that it could lead us to cause ourselves, others and the world around us so much pain and suffering? For some it can lead them to believe that life is in fact not even worth living. And this my friends is both sad and shocking. Because at the core of those beliefs is a fundamental inability to know how to transform our relationship to our mind.
'The mind is a very dangerous tool if it is not trained, harnessed and utilised for good. It is a great story teller and will tell you stories all day long.' CLICK TO TWEET
You Need Tools. Not Labels.
In the yogic philosophy we tend to steer away from labels that tell us 'we are bad' or 'doing something wrong' if we think certain thoughts and act a certain way. Mostly because labels aren't always helpful and can make us feel worse about ourselves. Instead all focus is on transformation; transforming your relationship to yourself and what you do have power over is doing exactly just that. All focus, and in fact the entire yogic system, was created over 10 000 years ago to help us transform our inner world to then in face transform the outer world. The tools they created are blindingly simple, massively compassionate and 100% work.
'We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.' Buddha
When I was a few years into coaching I went searching for a system that would help clients in the real world, in a moment of need, access what was really happening on a yoga mat or meditation cushion without having to run off to the bathroom to meditate every time something upset them. I found an awesome tool called ACT therapy.
In ACT the defusion of powerful, painful and hurtful stories and thoughts is the first part of the process. The first thing we have to do is nail those stories by first becoming aware that they are rolling like a tape that replay all day long. This means we have to be aware of the stories and thoughts that are swirling around in our mind everyday and catch them, listen in, find them and nail them with compassion.
If we don't get a grip on our thoughts and stories the following is what I have seen over and over happen and personally experienced:
1. Your day/s will be dictated by your painful, hurtful, problematic and unhelpful stories.
Negative stories don't make you feel very good. Whether you are conscious of them or not, they are giving birth to an emotional follow through of feelings that just plain make us feel horrible. Carry those feelings throughout the day and it's like being dragged with no control or awareness over your reactions. Your thoughts do end up dictating your actions and the reactions of others. So if the thoughts are heavy, unhelpful and painful, you can expect life to end up looking and feeling that way.
2. Thoughts and stories end up becoming beliefs.
The only difference between a thought and story is that a story is a thought you have repeated many times. The only difference between a story and a belief is that you said it so many times and bought into it as 'true' and it has in fact become embedded as who you think you are.
3. You can lose sight of who you truly are and were born to be.
If you buy into what your mind tells you all day long. You are destined to lose sight of the good, the wonder and the outstanding amount of possibilities for positive experiences that can be right in front of you. Living by your thoughts is like being stuck in a swamp and unable to get to the trees. You never are fully accessing the power and potential of life, connection and bliss in every single moment. You can't ever reach your full potential whilst you are hanging off the back of your 'train of thought'.
Your mind is like a long train of thought. You are either being dragged, attempting to be in control or learning to become the observer.
Transforming Your Relationship To Stories - Step By Step Guide
I like to use the train analogy to explain how we want to approach your thoughts and stories and beliefs.
I know it's a pretty ugly picture that I whipped up in 2 seconds but it kind of gets the point across.
Step 1 - Getting Off The Back Of The Train & Learning To Observe
When you are being dragged by your mind you cannot see where you are going, you cannot ever fully access a present moment (and therefore presence in relationships) and life is whipping by you and you are missing all the special moments and opportunities.
We get off the back of the train by:
Observing Our Stories
When you tune in to the train of thought and listen to what you are telling yourself you are learning to observe and watch your own experience just like watching clouds float by in the sky. Stop, observe and allow the story to be what it is, just a story, just words. It doesn't matter if you feel the story is true or right, it just matters that you can catch it, watch it and see it for what is words; unhelpful words. When you learn to observe thoughts instead of running with them you have nailed those thoughts and you are aware that they exist. This is the first and most important step.
Name Those Bad Boys
It's time to name your most prominent UNHELPFUL stories. Unhelpful stories are those that lead you away from the person you want to be. Unhelpful stories are those that don't make you feel very good.
For example you could have the 'I'm a bad mother' story or the 'I'm fat' story or the 'I'm not a good person' story and so on. Once you've caught the story you have to say to yourself.....whoops there it is (again) my "__________________" story has come for a visit.
Keep it playful.
Essentially what you are doing is creating more space and detachment so that the story begins to only be what it is, a story. The more you do this the less power it will have over you.
Step 2 - Lose The Need To Control Your Mind. Don't Be The Train Driver.
When you believe that you have control over your thoughts (e.g. you try and change them or make them more positive than what they are) all you are doing is in fact trying to drive the train. This in the history of man has never been accomplished. No one person ever has mastered control over their mind by trying to control it.
Spending all day long entangling with your mind only keeps you inside your head and not engaging and living wholeheartedly in the real world. The man you see above in the picture is attempting to drive the train. Becoming the driver is tiring and fruitless. It also gives you an all day job as opposed to the freedom to become the observer of the mountains.
Step 3 - Become A Cherry Picker. Look For The Horizon. Observe The View. Live Wholeheartedly.
When you create space between your thoughts and stories by observing them and lose the need to try and control them or make them different to what they are you (you can't make a negative thought more positive, it is what it is) are learning to create distance between them and YOU.
And by you I mean who YOU really are beyond what your mind tells you.
To access your true potential in life and to move forward in life, you have to step aside the train and look behind, above and beyond the train. When you look past the train you see the beauty, the mountains in the distance, the colours, the smells and all that life REALLY has to offer that is sitting right in front of you. And in this place my friends, magic happens.
When you master this you become a cherry picker. You choose to take and utilise the helpful thoughts and look beyond the unhelpful thoughts. You learn to cherry pick the opportunities and goodness that is everywhere to be found in the world. Essentially you have become present. You have become mindful. You are back in touch with YOU.
When we are present we remain in a compassionate, open, wise and joyful state. We see ourselves and the world differently.
Practice Makes Perfect.
If you practice the above over a few days you will surely begin on a pathway of more presence, self acceptance and joy. I'd like to hear about your unhelpful stories below (name them!) and what you intend to use from the tips above to help you transform them. Please leave your comments, it's super helpful for me to see how you are travelling with my tools and also gives me a chance to answer your questions and offer more helpful advice. It's also helpful for others to see that they are not alone with dealing with their inner world.
How To Start
You just have to pick one thing from above and implement today and you can tell me about it in the comments below.
Lots of love