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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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