Tuesday, 19 March 2013

it's all in the mind

Your mind is your most powerful tool. When you want to make things happen, mindset is everything. When you want to change your situation, you have to put your mind to it. When making the most important decisions of your life, the ability to examine your thoughts and appreciate their power is paramount. When you make a decision to 'train your brain', you'll find that the mind can be unruly, unhelpful, stubborn.. Your limiting beliefs must be challenged, your perspective must be actively shifted and the ideas you hold about yourself, your worth and your place in the world may have to be grappled with, updated, even abandoned in the journey towards whatever it is that constitutes your view of personal success. The way I 'train my brain' is through making sure that my thoughts are aligned with my core being, my spirit - my soul. It's hard to be open, willing, receptive, exploratory, in awe, spiritually dynamic and so on if my brain holds on to ideas of superiority, inferiority, worthlessness, debilitating fear, unjustified pre-judgements or unfair influence from impure places. You see what I mean?

Here are ten ways to train your brain so that it doesn't hold your soul back from doing its thing.

1. Try something new (and consciously record the results)
Plan to do something you've never done before. Go somewhere you've never been, spend the day with someone you'd normally only pass in the corridor at work or study a subject you've never given that much thought to. As you're in the process of this new undertaking, actively notice your emotional responses to it. Notice how it's changing you. Notice your comfort zone and what it's doing. Notice what you're learning and how you think it might shift your perspective.

2. Reframe 
Take a belief and try to change it into the complete opposite of its original form. For example, 'My job is boring' would become, 'My job is enriching'. 'She's not my kind of person' would become, 'She's the kind of person I want to be around.' When we reframe, we challenge our accepted responses (which are usually deeply engrained and not often examined). Reframing might sound like an attempt at brainwashing yourself but actually it's a way for you to push your mental boundaries and find out whether what you believe is really what you believe.

3. Examine jealousy
Look at a person you envy, a lifestyle you're jealous of, a thriving company that makes you feel that your business endeavours are inadequate. Can you think of three key ways in which the jealousy you're feeling is actually good for you? Is there anything in there that's useful rather than emotionally damaging? Our jealousy can give us good indications of what we need to work on, what our unhelpful preconceived ideas are or what the next step should be in order for us to succeed.

4. Go with the flow
Make a conscious effort to stop micromanaging. Try to avoid being disappointed by change, scared of uncertainty or on the verge of tears because something didn't go your way. You are exactly where you're supposed to be - there is a lesson in each moment and a simple beauty in each mistake. Are you trying to swim against the stream? Exhausted yet? Just let the day unfold without venerating the perfect image of what it should look like.

5. Find the root cause
You've worked out that there's a problem. Don't drop anchor there. Take a look at the problem which caused that problem and the problem which caused that. Go back to the root. A lot of the time, we try to treat symptoms instead of causes. Until the root cause of an issue is identified and examined, the symptoms will keep popping up and saying hello. Finding the root cause is tough stuff, but it's worth it.

6. Try on someone else's shoes
The more opposed you are to the other person's behaviours or opinions, the more of a challenge this task really is! Trying to envision how your adversary is feeling is probably one of the hardest things you'll ever try to do with your imagination. Why do it? Because it gives us humility, it allows us to show compassion and it reminds us that the world is a very big place and that we're not the central spoke of it. That's nourishing stuff!

7. Make a story board
There are times in our lives when we're just too damn close to a situation. We can't see a situation for what it is because we're enmeshed inside of it, barely able to keep our heads above the surface of its complexity. Grab some paper and start at the beginning, sketching out each scene as it unfolded. (You don't need to be Rembrandt to do this - stick figures or abstract patterns will do.) As you go through the scenes, you'll see them unfold from a distance, allowing your mind the space it needs to process the whole thing differently.

8. Remember, everyone has someone who loves them
When you're pissed off with someone, constantly irritated by them or just convinced that they are devoid of good qualities, stop for a second and remember that they have at least one person who values them, loves them or has forgiven them for their transgressions. Everyone is multi-faceted. This is a difficult lesson to keep learning. I truly believe that we don't always forgive someone for them, we forgive them for us, so that we are not robbed of the energy it takes to loathe them.

9. Make a plan and stick to it 
Suffering from extreme avoidance or procrastination? You're not alone. Make a plan and stick to it. Schedule in some time to do something you've been putting out of sight, get excited about honouring that time and, when that time comes, do what you said you were going to do. Sometimes the mind bites off more than it can chew. We imagine that the task will be so epic, so mammoth, so totally unrealisable that we just don't start. But it's possible to dedicate just one hour to something, as long as that hour is faithfully productive. 

10. check in with yourself
Try to do this at least once a day, even if your day has been relaxing and drama-free. Checking in is not just for those times when your life is going from champagne to shit. Your relationship with yourself continues through the good as well as the bad and the ugly. Honour yourself. Maintain a dialogue with yourself. Ask yourself questions. Give yourself time to decide what to do next.

Much love from your humble fellow traveller..