7 Rules To Re-Claim Ownership of Your Mind

Free Your Mind

Each day we fight institutions, advertisers, and social norms for the ownership of our minds. Most of us live our lives with partially free minds. We’ll claim our freedom as long as our comfort zone is not violated. We rebel when the risk is minimal.

To ensure the freedom of your mind, here are 7 rules to help guide you. If you feel like any of these don’t apply to you, please break them.

1. Don’t be a tool.

Conformity and social acceptability is the natural enemy of the free mind.

We live our lives based on templates of what we think we should do. We take jobs we don’t want because they make us feel important (even though they make us hate our lives). We try to fit a role based on society and other peoples expectations. The only way to reclaim the freedom of your mind is to stop living your life by a template and pave your own way.

Most people defer the ownership of their minds simply because they are afraid to be different. They’re afraid of being noticed and they’re afraid of what people will think about them. The only person’s opinion you should care about is your own. Everyone else is secondary.

2. Stop caring.

Most of our suffering is caused by caring too much about things that don’t really matter. The hand we’re dealt in life is outside of our control. The events and situations we’re placed in our largely beyond our influence. Stop caring about what other people do, what other people think and work within the circle of your influence.

We worry a lot about how things will turn out after there’s nothing we can do about it. Forget your hang-ups and accept what you can’t control and do your best to influence the things you can.

3. Put yourself on auto-response.

We throw away a ridiculous amount of opportunities simply because we can’t make up our minds. We paralyze ourselves with the auto-response “I don’t know.” We tell ourselves that we’ll figure it out in the future, but we’ll likely never know how everything will turn out in advance.

Change your auto-response “I don’t know” to “I’ll figure it out.”

Accept that sometimes stumbling in the dark is the only way to find the light switch.

4. Realize most fears are illusory.

There are countless fears we have that are merely illusions. There is no possible threat of any real danger, except maybe embarrassment or humiliation (public speaking, for example). Even then, most of these fears are wildly exaggerated.

There is no real threat to your life (well maybe your finances) with starting your own business or quitting the job you hate.

To re-claim the ownership of your mind, fear must be assimilated. Always do what you are afraid to do.

5. Stop betraying yourself.

The natural tendency of the mind is to compare and contrast everything. One side of your mind says “this is the right choice,” while the other side says “you’re joking right?

This discord creates a battle of a judge and a victim inside your mind.

To free your mind you have to transcend the judge and the victim. After all, does it make much sense that the same voice that caused you to do something is now chastising you?

Regain the freedom of your mind by being impeccable with yourself, and never using your mind against you.

6. Question authority.

Most people simply follow what they’re told (jump? how high?).

Just because an “expert” says something, you don’t have to believe it. Just because something is popular, doesn’t mean it’s correct.

Think for yourself and question authority. Don’t believe anything that doesn’t agree with your own common sense.

7. Freedom is a state of mind.

We search for freedom by gaining a certain amount of money, possessions, or status. But as soon as we attain the object of our desire, we’re no longer satisfied. We’re still in search of what’s next.

Realize that it’s not the object you desire that is the cause of discontent, it’s the desire for freedom by attaining something “out there.” The search for freedom perpetuates the idea that you could be free if only you could “get it” by attaining something.

In reality, the only way to free yourself is to realize that freedom is a state of mind.

De-Bugging Your Mind

From the moment we’re born we’re taught to behave a certain way, follow certain rules and do certain things to fit in. Our authentic mind is broken and we essentially become domesticated.

Re-claiming your freedom requires the constant pursuit of de-bugging your mind. You have to pull out all the weeds that are strangling your integrity.

Contrary to popular belief, freedom isn’t given freely. It is not something passed out at birth. You’ll never be free unless you unabashedly proclaim it within.

Some people just don’t want freedom of choice though, they want freedom from it. (If that’s your case, your cog will fit nicely in many pre-determined places.)

Claiming ownership over your mind is realizing that there is no path to follow but your own. There is no price you can put on the freedom of your mind.

Don’t out-source your freedom; homogeneity is the bane of life.

[photo credit: Merlijn Hoek]

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56 Comments on "7 Rules To Re-Claim Ownership of Your Mind"

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Writer Dad

Questioning authority is a good one. Too many people do things because they think they’re supposed to, not because they should. Well said.

Dave Navarro

#3 is the winner for me. Building automatic responses is everything when it comes to deflecting the crap life throws at you.


[…] Here are a few things that Jonathan, over at illuminated mind was thinking about. […]

Brad Spencer

Wow- number 4 is the thing that stands out most.

I don’t understand sometimes why I’m so afraid of things. I never get hurt when I conquer my fears and usually my life is better for it.

I’d suggest maybe writing an article on examining the fears we have that are very latent and yet influence us every day!

Cheers and thanks for the great read!

Brad Spencer

Shanel Yang
Great point about debugging your mind! Literally thousands of thoughts flash through our mind each day — and most of those are either negative or neutral. In other words, we are actually criticizing either ourselves or the people around us all day long! Imagine how much more productive and positive we could be if we could change those negative and neutral thoughts into positive ones? Well, we can! I wrote about the 10 most common negative thoughts and how to change them into positive thoughts in “10 Harmful Thoughts” at http://shanelyang.com/2008/06/18/10-harmful-thoughts/ This is a tried and true performance-enhancing technique that… Read more »
John Rocheleau - zen-moments

Of everything we can lay claim to owning, the most valuable is our own mind, and yet we often let it be ruled by society, our employer, our spouse, or a bad day.

So fragile and yet so powerful. The mind is an enigma for sure :-)

Good stuff,


Glen Allsopp

We search for freedom by gaining a certain amount of money, possessions, or status. But as soon as we attain the object of our desire, we’re no longer satisfied. We’re still in search of what’s next.

Haha, I did a post on problogger recently and included a quote that went something like this:

“I took me 5 brand new cars to realise they weren’t making me happy. When I parked them for the first time I just thought, ‘What Now?'” – Russell Simmons


“If you feel like any of these don’t apply to you, please break them.”

Don’t mind if I do, but of course, I’d be inlined to do so mostly in a spirit of inquiry, adventure, and exploration, in a quest to test limits and bend expectations. Having said this, all of the points covered are well taken by this freedom lover. Thanks for sharing.

Jarrod - Warrior Development

Don’t be a tool, so funny.

But it is really quite true.

Most of the time our mind and emotions use us instead of the other way around, which is how it needs to be to find freedom.

Bengt - Zen and more

This is a great post! It is important that we re-claim ownership of our mind, and of our soul.

Lola Fayemi / Nourishment for your spiritual awakening

Great post!

How much trouble does not questioning authority get us into. And as for conformity yuk, don’t get me started….!;)

In love, light ad abundance x x x


@Jarrod: On a side note, Tool is one of my favorite bands. =)

Ari Koinuma
Hey, I recently got into Tool myself! I always require bands to exist for at least 10 years before they grace my discerning ears. ;-) Excellent post, as usual. My addition is to #1 — I wholeheartedly agree that making any decisions based on conformity is to be avoided. Or rather, people have the wrong kind of automatic response — always respond in an “acceptable” manner. There are times when we scrutinize a decision and come to the same conclusion as the mass. That’s OK. But to get in the habit of always trying to fit in can prevent one… Read more »

@Ari: Great comments as usual.

I was thinking about adding a quote from Black Flag or Dead Kennedy’s. Haha.

Super post! A lot of what you describe sounds to me like the frog in the boiling water story. When you put him in cool water and then slowly turn up the heat, he’ll die before he jumps out of the water. I believe in life we compromise one thing at a time, one thought at a time or one bit of our freedom at a time thinking it’s not that big of a deal. And then before we know it, we have given away our power and who we really are is lost. We only move one step at… Read more »

Wonderful points!

Realizing the fears are illusory. This is one I have definitely struggled with in the past (and to an extent yet). But I’m finding – slowly – that what you say is true.

Steve Mills

If people only follow these 7 steps they are going to be so far ahead of the average person in terms of personal freedom and power.

Most people are so full of conditioning from other sources that they have a hard time defining who and what they really are.

Debug the mind!


@Laurie: That’s such a great analogy, I never thought about applying it to the ownership of your mind. We don’t realize how much of our minds we’ve given away until we’re half-baked, or boiled in this case.


This may be your best post yet. It will be printed and taped to the bathroom wall (with all my other reminders :-D)


my fave, stop caring, works wonders. I stopped caring about the petty stuff when my daughter was born. Kids are going to get dirty, break stuff, make messes…its all part of being a kid. It has carried over into other aspects of my life where I don’t sweat the small stuff.

“don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things.”
words to live by!
and yes, Tool is an awesome band!
Great post!

Lee Cockerell

Excellent post…thinking and pushing through the resistence is the name of the game to becoming an individual who can get things done that eveyone else says can’t be done. Persistence is also a big deal. When you are right and have a great idea you often stand alone. When your idea comes to pass you will have lots of people helping you take the credit for it. Good advice in this post on hohw to make a difference in your life and the world….Lee Cockerell

Dereck Coatney

Hey, thanks for recommending this. I really enjoyed it. Hope to talk more soon.


Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome

I’ve always been a question-authority type. In high school, those teachers who treated me with respect got it, but those who only saw the Goth-teen and assumed I was a troublemaker, got trouble.

I never question authority just for the sake of being a troublemaker, however. I do it to make conscious decisions in my life. Too many people go through life with the autopilot on. Your post is good reminder for people to take the wheel.


Tom Volkar / Delightful Work

This is an outstanding rallying cry Jonathan! Can you imagine an entire world of non-conformists? How delightful that would be. As an old hippie I’ve always appreciated the absolute wisdom that comes form questioning authority. Good show!


I liked this post a lot. I’m glad I subscribed, you really hit the nail on the head here. Keep up the great work!


What a fantastic list. I am with you all the way on all of them. It seems that today people like others to “think” for them and make decisions for them, etc. This leads to no growth or empowerment.


if thinking is weak, how is thinking about thinking going to change anything? you need to add more awareness in order to expand thinking. none of these points help a weak mind, and a strong mind doesn’t need them. i understand the sentiments, but where is the value in what you wrote? people are as they are, and even new ideas don’t change that.


I think one thing you forget to mention is that while doing all these things will be helpful for your personal development and trajectory in life, it can also set you apart so much from society that you have to deal with a lonelier existence than one might want – if you dare to be different and dare not to conform – you could be missing out on some of the enjoyable things about society, family and friends who don’t choose to blaze a trail through their own consciousness.

Mark D

Nice choice of words on number four. Mr. Emerson was a smart man. Too bad I don’t know more about him. I’ll have to find out more.

Ever since I saw that quote on your blog, I’ve been putting it to use and finding it one of the truest statements ever spoken. “Always do what you’re afraid to do.” It’s priceless advice that’s true in every sense.

Thank you for reminding me, but I’m pretty sure there’s more than 7 points of your wisdom that you’ve mentioned… I count 11: * Don’t be a tool. * Conformity and social acceptability is the natural enemy of the free mind. * Stop caring. * Change your auto-response from “I don’t know” to “I’ll figure it out.” * Accept that sometimes stumbling in the dark is the only way to find the light switch. * Realize most fears are illusory. * Stop betraying yourself. * Think for yourself and question authority. Don’t believe anything that doesn’t agree with your own… Read more »
I came across your website today when looking at your article at Write to Done and have found a lot that resonates. My husband and I took the risk a couple of years ago to leave our secure jobs and lifestyle in Prague, Czech Republic and travel around the world. We wanted to change our careers along the way, transitioning from the cubicle to more creative and freelance oriented jobs. While we’ve definitely moved beyond our comfort zone, physically and emotionally, these last few years, it’s still hard to defy the “life template.” Everyone wants to know when we’re coming… Read more »
Adam Bean
You hit the nail right on the head with every one of these points. Especially challenge authority. Not challenging authority is really bad mental programming that has been passed down from the generation that I call the most apathetic in history. The Baby Boomers. TV came along just as they were growing up and was cleverly used to programme the boomers not to question authority. Fortunately the next generations are beginning to break free of this bad mental programming and realise that the so called experts that we are told to listen to, aren’t always right. It’s ok to listen… Read more »
Michael Moniz

I love how it starts, Don’t be a tool. This is so powerful. We never think about this. It can be so simple.


[…] 7 Rules to Reclaim Ownership of Your Mind – Jonathan Mead provides ways to not let your mind be ruled by others. I especially like #1 and #4. No, I’m not going to tell you what they are. Go read the article. […]

I think number 1 is super important in today’s american society. What we do to ourselves to keep up with the Jone’s is almost psychotic if not at all the best stand up routine on the planet. We are taught to be tools at a young age. Our educational system is built for times long past. They tell us to get a good job, not teach you what to do with finances once you get them, if you are so lucky enough to keep them. (School loans are the next diabolical treason act but we won’t go there now.) Think… Read more »
Michael Miles

‘Stop caring about what other people do, what other people think and work within the circle of your influence.’

My thoughts exactly. Wonderful post.


[…] Link Love posted by zizendo in August 27th, 2008  in Life Style   Illuminated Mind: Don’t be a tool!… learn these 7 rules to reclaim the ownership of your […]


Freedom is a state of mind- hits it on the mark and takes care of everything else. Letting your mind go off all that plagues your thoughts. Create your reality, enjoy the present moment, and don’t let the endless script of thoughts effect you. Laugh at how silly the mind is. Observe and take note, but don’t let it effect you…the soul. Fantastic post!


[…] Illuminated Mind: Don’t be a tool!… learn these 7 rules to reclaim the ownership of your mind. […]


Just stumbled upon this article – very enlightening. I have taken the risk to start an internet marketing business in relationship enhancement. A few of your points definitely resonate with me. Due to the sensitive nature of my passion, I do struggle with self censoring as I design/write sex related content for couples. Breaking some rules sounds like a good way to make it even more fun. After all, helping couples enjoy their lives together is a valuable endeavour.


[…] Here are 10 tools you can use to avoid brainwashing and retain the ownership of your mind: […]


Insightful article!

I have a question about #5. How do you rise above the victim and the judge? I know this situation all to well, where two parts of my mind are arguing about a certain choice.


I am just leaving a job that I hated after spending a year there. So step 5 sounds very familiar, but I didn’t betray myself. Great post, it helped me understand why I was a misfit in two big corporates.


[…] Jonathan at Illuminated Mind writes about 10 Ways to Avoid Brainwashing and 7 Rules To Re-Claim the Ownership of Your Mind. […]


[…] Question authority. We have an unnatural habit of thinking that the norm is some unbreakable standard that we should […]

Will C

A word has to be said about social consensus, as such remains our only defense from the organized evils of the world, as well as from any overwhelming force beyond the scope of the individual, natural forces, say. Without at least a basic social consensus, there can be no group response to anything. This is far from homogeneity, though, and your point made is well taken. Homogeneity is not something to strive for (of course, it will always remain unattainable anyway).
Still, to my mind, promoting consensus seems a most laudable goal.


[…] knows that giving into fear is the mind killer. The more you give into fear, the more you give away ownership of your mind. To cultivate the renegade mindset, you must accustom yourself to act in spite of uncertainty. […]

Frankly, I don’t get a lot of this because in some cases it is contradictory in nature. For example, there are real dangers in and to life, but the example above does not examine this. The other is and I caught my friend, a student of the illuminated self, who said to stop worrying about the misery of others after which he proceeded to defend the Iraq war because how they were treated like the raping of children. I then told him about what our forces were doing there (Obama refuses to release photos that show the sodomy of young… Read more »
Arow Blackdragon
@1776blues: ‘The example above’ that you note in the opening of your comment takes the tone that Jonathan has laid down exhaustive and all-inclusive ‘rules.’ Please note: “If you feel like any of these don’t apply to you, please break them.” The fact that you refused to see beyond the *suggestion* and took it as an absolute is a perfect example of Jonathan’s point in the value of questioning authority… I’m pretty sure his focus was more on encouragement to face irrational fears, i.e. fear of heights or fear of public speaking. As for #5, and the Judge/Victim concept, my… Read more »

You expressed some ideas I was kicking around perfectly. My favorite–don’t be a tool. Nice read!

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