If I gave you a million pounds, could you fall in love with the next person that you see irrespective of gender, age or looks?
If I aimed a loaded gun at your head and told you to remain relaxed, could you do it?
We think that we can apply the same rules to the inner world as we do in the outer world (if you don’t like it, get rid of it). However trying to control our (mainly negative) inner thoughts, feelings and sensations only gives them a stronger grip on us. You probably answered NO to the first questions (if you answered YES, you are not human). Your intestines probably make s**t when you don’t want them to and they don’t make it when you do want them to. The same goes for the mind. Its purpose is to create all sorts of thoughts and if it doesn’t, it’s not normal nor healthy. So let your mind and intestine do their job while you get on with your life wherever you are or whatever might be going on in your head.
A common problem for most of us is narrowness and inflexibility of our behavior and thinking. Avoiding or escaping one’s private feelings, thoughts, memories and physiological reactions often keeps us from engaging in vital actions.
1. Do your intestines sometimes make s**t when you don’t want them to?
Yeah they do. Of course they do. And when they do, we go to the loo and check that they are working properly and flush the toilet. It wouldn’t make sense to carry around our waster in a pocket and keep checking it out. Yeah pretty gross! Yet that is what we do with the waste from our minds. Admit it, your minds produce some pretty horrible stinky content and unhelpful, unfriendly thoughts. So why don’t we just let the mind fulfill its purpose and create good thoughts and rubbish thoughts, but chose which ones we pay attention to, notice and listen to.
2. If you aren’t willing to have it, you’ve got it
Try no to think about warm jam doughnuts! Don’t think about how they smell when they come out of the oven, how sweet the jam tastes and how deliciously soft they are. Or the pink elephant and such examples. You cannot not think about it and even thought you think you can, the only real way to know you are thinking something different is knowing what you are not thinking. Thus either way you are still focused on it. Basically if you are not willing to have it, you will have it.
3. Your mind is not your friend
Contrary to what you might think, not all problems can be solved with the mind. Your mind can be a really mean and horrible friend sometimes so why listen to it? Don’t you have a choice?
4. You are not your thoughts
Most of us are attached and glued to specific thoughts. We think that they define us but they really don’t if you chose to see it that way. What if you could learn to not be defined by the things you tell yourself but instead be a conscious container for it all? And if you aren’t your thoughts, then who are you? This opens a whole other debate..
5. There are alternatives: acceptance and willingness
The healthier alternatives to control and avoidance are acceptance and willingness. This means accepting that your mind will produce rubbish, being willing to feel discomfort in the face of a valued life and taking action to get you there.
Originally published at medium.com