How to Reclaim Ownership of Your Mind

The views and opinions of others are a petty tyrant when compared to your opinion of yourself. What you think of yourself is more valuable than any external validation or outward symbol of authority.

Self-validation and internal congruence is where the real battle takes place. Winning over your own heart and mind — not those of others — is what truly makes the difference between an unfulfilled or a purposeful, full life.

But so often we do the exact opposite of what we truly want. We have habits or addictions that hold us back. We have unwanted thought patterns stuck on auto-repeat.

A stop button, unfortunately, isn’t built into the dashboard of our minds. We’re born without a manual, so we have to do the best we can to find our own path.

Here’s the thing…

It’s not your fault. You’re not broken. There’s nothing wrong with you. You are born completely free, whole, wild, and beautifully complete. But somewhere along the line an ugly lie gets embedded into your mental software. We start to think that we need to become.

And once we eat that lie, a whole network of contaminated beliefs take root within us. We start to think we need to defend our position. We feel the urge to prove ourselves. We start looking outside for validation because we’re not getting it from ourselves.

Sometimes rebellion is a positive thing. When you’re questioning false-contexts and limiting structures, the results can be highly beneficial. But when you’re rebelling against yourself, you defeat yourself before you even step onto the battlefield.

So how exactly do you reclaim ownership of your mind? What strategies are necessary for winning this battle?

  1. Examine the battlefield. The first step is to get a clear picture of the battlefield. You have to know exactly where the insurgents are hidden and where the biggest challenges will be faced. Review your current life situation. Where do you hold yourself back? Where do you defeat yourself before you start? In what ways are you hurtful or insulting to yourself? This might be hard to do. We don’t like to admit that we aren’t doing our best. Remember, it’s not your fault. You didn’t choose to eat the lies; no one in their right mind would choose to accept unhelpful mental patterns. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are there. Accept that they exist so you can do something about it, no matter how difficult it may be.
  2. Enroll in mind-training. No fighter can expect to be successful without the proper training and preparation. You can’t expect to be successful at abolishing limitations with an untrained mind. In order to win the battle, you will need to engage in daily mindfulness training. Meditation practice can be one form of this, but there are 23 and 1/2 other hours in the day that we can’t ignore. We must do our best to bring mindfulness into the remainder of our day as well; our relationships with others and with ourselves. We can’t expect to change without awareness.
  3. Engage in specialty training. Having a specific art that you can practice as self-development will be invaluable an invaluable tool in your arsenal for uprooting and terminating falsehood. A daily or almost-daily practice is usually best. It might be something personal like mastering the guitar, or it could be a group-endeavor like martial arts. Any way that you can specialize your training to something you’re deeply passionate about, that challenges you to grow, and makes your practice tangible will be incredibly useful in your journey to mind-ownership.
  4. Create the proper training environment. You can’t expect to become fit without proper training tools and positive reinforcement. The same is true for reclaiming your mind. The more you can setup your environment to be truth-reinforcing, the more you increase your chances for success. This might mean printing intentions and putting them on a board over your workspace. It could be surrounding your space with things that inspire you, and are symbols of your passions. If you’re a writer and an anthropologist, it might mean having a nice pen and notebook always nearby, a comfortable chair to sit in, a shelf with your favorite books around you, and photos of inspiring discoveries or reports of breakthrough studies. Whatever your practice or art of self-development is, make sure your environment is supportive of your success.
  5. Rally your troops. The more you can participate in a community of others in the quest for heart and mind reclamation, the easier it will be for you to stick to your goal. This might be formal, like a weekly mastermind group or meet up. Or it could mean blogging and being involved in a community of others interested in your chosen passion. By participating in a group, you tap into a source of energy greater than you could have accessed on your own.
  6. Cultivate mental toughness. The crusade to reclaim your mind is a difficult one. It’s not something that happens overnight. Just when you think you’ve pulled the last weed, another one stubbornly seems to pop up. The fight for your mind is a long-term endeavor. It’s something I’ve been engaged in for much of my life. And while the skirmishes do become less and less frequent, I find there is always another level of training. In order to win, you have to be persistent.
  7. Learn the art of fighting without fighting. At some point, you’ll probably realize that the way to stop the war is to stop showing up. If there is nothing to fight against, there can be no fight. Be warned, this will probably make your invisible adversary very angry at first. He will scream louder, abusing you more for your heartless ignorance of his ridicule and criticism. The best thing to do is to accept it and let him tire out. When you face things head on they lose much of their power. With the art of fighting without fighting, you will likely need to use both weapons of artful ignorance and peaceful, non-violent resistance.

Uprooting and putting down insurgent undesired beliefs or thought patterns is the only way to reclaim ownership or your mind. I personally believe that this single, deliberate pursuit is perhaps the most important one you can undertake in your life. Because, ultimately, what this fight comes down to is a cleansing of falsehood and the embodiment of truth. When you live radically in truth, when you unabashedly go with yourself, when there is no internal division, you embrace your own power and potential.

And when you do that, some amazing things start to happen. The pieces of your life seem to just fall into place. You follow your heart and aren’t afraid to pursue your dreams. You realize your potential and hold nothing back. You create something beautiful and inspire others to do the same.

photo courtesy of just.luc

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Ryan March 4, 2010 at 1:23 pm

#7 says it all. All battles are self-created. Resistance doesn’t exist until we form it. Don’t beat yourself up over it; proceed knowing that you can change your mental programming.

All great points.

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V K Ghai March 24, 2010 at 4:40 am

The biggest resistance is the self realization.One has to first realize the habits, pre-conceived norms, values, lust, greed, hatred etc. stored over the years in one’s sub-conscious mind which are real culprits with whome we have to fight. It is my firm belief that without the help of spirtual guide (not the religious guide) self realization is not possible. To fight with negative thoughts, it is not neccessary to fight with negation of negative thoughts because sub-conscious mind can not be changed with resistence but by ignorance of negative thoughts and cultivation of positive thoughts which can be achieved by accepting positive thoughts in the form of pre-conceived notions & values of love, trust, oneness etc. in sub-conscious mind which is possible only through the experience of spiritual guide. This is so because conscious mind can be changed by self but unconscious mind cannot be changed by self but by spiritual guide.

This is the essence of Indian spiritualism.

Minimalist Ninja March 4, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Great post Jonathan! I actually needed to read just this, and I saw your post and thought, “wow, what good timinig!”

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Mark Dowdell March 4, 2010 at 3:30 pm

I find number 4 to be hugely effective for me, even though it seems so simple. Since recently making some pretty big life decisions for myself, one of the best things I’ve done to help myself remember what direction I’m headed was picking up a stack of post-its and write some encouraging notes to myself.

I stick them everywhere I know I’ll find them when I’m at my worst. I’ve even taken a picture of them on my phone and set it as my background so I won’t forget to “BE PERSISTENT” (for example). Good post, great message. Thanks Jonathan.

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ChristiaanH - Mind the Beginner March 4, 2010 at 3:32 pm

“Enrol in mind-training”

You know, that is what got me through university the first time. I was totally stuck and had no where to go. My problem was I couldn’t focus on the present moment, I was always wandering off… And as with such things “When the student is ready, the master will appear” I ended up meditating (zazen) daily for a few months after having two weekends of formal training.

Which quite obviously stuck and I’m still doing it daily, for almost 18 months now (Has it been that long already? *shocked* )

Take it from Jonathan, or take it from me. Meditation is one of the best things you can do to get awareness, a clear view of the world around you.

Zazen isn’t all that hard to learn, in it’s simplest form it’s sitting and breathing. Without adding anything else. You can learn the technique in a weekend from someone who knows, and have a lifetime of joy from it.

Sorry for hijacking this blogpost a bit Jonathan, I just had to say this..

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Evan March 4, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Hi Johnathon, I think I agree with what you are trying to say – acceptance of what is.

But I think part of what is, is our becoming. The acorn developing into the oak. No change in nature but certainly an unfolding and change in this sense.

I think by accepting the different parts of ourselves (including the judge/critic) we can achieve an integration.

Or, we disagree. Thanks for taking on such an important topic.

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Hulbert March 4, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Hey Johnathan, pretty cool article. I liked how you refer reclaiming ownership of the mind as a warrior or a soldier going into the battlefied. The war isn’t happening against the enemy though, it’s happening to the self. When we realize that we don’t to always fight our thoughts, that’s when we are able to take control of our mind again. However, this takes a lot of practice being mindful on a day-to-day basis.

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Jonathan March 4, 2010 at 7:57 pm

@ Ryan: I think that’s really the final step in the fighter’s path… realizing that the point of the fight is to move beyond it.

@ Christaan: You’re right. Zazen is very simple and it’s something I think anyone could benefit in practicing. Just the ability to allow your mind and thoughts to settle is valuable. That’s something we don’t give ourselves enough time practicing.

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Persha -DumpedDays March 4, 2010 at 9:05 pm

There are so many things that go in and out of our minds that this becomes a necessity on a daily basis.

Indeed, useful post to clear out the mind clutter.
thanks.

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colbycheeze March 4, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Interesting article Johnathan. Pursuing mastery and personal growth in SOME area certainly helps out. I agree with how you painted the picture of constantly training.

That is the real trick anyhow. You must exercise your mind just as you do your body. Nobody is perfect, and there will always be a new struggle to deal with. It gets easier and easier to deal with these types of things as you go on however.

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Marc Winitz March 4, 2010 at 10:36 pm

I can tell you are a true warrior Jonathan. And you are obviously a martial artist based on what you wrote here. Interestingly, #5 is the point that stuck with me most. I had not thought about the value of this in the context you are writing about in this specific post. Nicely done.

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Nate March 5, 2010 at 7:55 am

Hey Jonathan!

Man…..looking within, yes, that is the key! You have to start there. In fact, you MUST start there. If you don’t know who you are and are not familiar with your habitual thought patterns, you are going to run into trouble (not an absolute….but likely).

This is why I particularly like #1 and #2 above. When you take the time to stop and ‘examine the battlefield’ as you put it, you will be astonished at what you find. Stop. Sit. Listen. Let go.

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Eric March 5, 2010 at 12:38 pm

You have to believe within yourself and listen to your inner feelings to truly understand your own self worth.

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Jonny | thelifething.com March 6, 2010 at 4:58 am

Or you could just ask nicely. Just a thought.

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Alex Monroe March 7, 2010 at 6:18 am

This is a wonderful post here. I just forwarded this to a bunch of people. I have definitely struggled, but have overcome by using a few of these steps. I really liked how you explained that it is not the readers fault. That is so important to explain because many people think it is.

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Cindy March 7, 2010 at 8:29 pm

I read this and ended up starting a discussion with a link to here, on my Raw Food Rehab friends room. I was thinking of it in regards to food issues … and recovery from same.

thanks for all you do! ;)

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Julius March 7, 2010 at 8:35 pm

I find all of the points useful, especially the one regarding having a group to support you. I admit I haven’t been participating in groups sharing my interest and goals as I’ve been focusing too much on myself and my daily tasks. I realize that I need to get out there as part of my quest to reclaim my own self and mind.

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Mars Dorian March 8, 2010 at 11:08 am

What a true post !

Conquering my mind has been the hardest crusade for me so far. Although it will probably take a lifetime, I’m already semi-satisfied with the way I shaped my mind.

You can only, only listen to the voice within and ignore anything else that doesn’t relate to you.

Mars

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Craig Thomas March 9, 2010 at 8:13 am

Nice post. Reclaiming your mind is fundamental in my opinion. Especially since today according to studies, 98% of your thoughts are the same as yesterday and 80% of them are put there by other people.

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The Dropout Kid March 9, 2010 at 10:47 am

Rallying your troops into your mastermind group for success is a great way to get spiritual and intellectual energy for phenomenal success. Great post

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Bells March 10, 2010 at 10:28 pm

That was a pretty awesome analogy :)

Mind = Conquered into submission.
Troops = Rallied.
Mind over Matter = Success!

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Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey March 27, 2010 at 6:12 pm

These are great tips! We do need to keep engage in training our mind and keeping our mind in shape. We look outside of ourselves for the validation too much when the true validation lies within. We determine who we are. Thanks for reminding us of this!

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toney mc mahon October 6, 2010 at 5:49 pm

these are graat tips keep up the good work Throughout life I have had problems focusing my attention on tasks I found uninteresting.My lack of attention has also affected my relationships with other people. As a result My quality of life was affacted and I realized I needed a change at this point.I met with an easteren doctor and he told me about my minds-eye .His ideas were simple yet revolutionary thus having practical life applications that people can use in their everyday life,There is now a lot of information on websites that people can discover their hidden talents. check these out learning simplifed .net.Brain balance program. Right brain-left brain.the ninds-eye the dominant-eye .

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xyz123 January 31, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Guys you dont need to fight your own mind.Please realize that you are making yourself an enemy.So just learn to trust yourself.N u need not fight anyone.Belief is answer to this problem.

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xyz123 January 31, 2011 at 1:59 pm

guys.Don’t MAKE YOUR OWN MIND YOUR ENEMY.Its just you will have to believe in yourself.Remember that no body controls your mind except you.So please stop thinking that its a battle,since you will be fighting yourself where no one is the winner!

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Edward July 15, 2013 at 4:35 pm

My Friends: You are all so blessed…and in turn, are such a blessing to others!!
This whole site and the following responses are such rich food for me right now. Think about the very last response…”Don’t make your own mind your enemy…..” Oh, how astute! And thanks for the initial article Friend Jonathan.
Thank you all. Words have such power! Just keep on being the sources of positive energy that you have been.
Love to you all. You all sound so plugged in….like the people who will help make this world a nicer place to live in.

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