Sociologist Charles Horton wrote: ” I am not what I think i am and i am not what you think i am. I am what i think you think i am.
Take a look at that sentence again and really think about what it means. We are so concerned about what others think about us, or what we think others are think about us.
This constant talk means that we are not being our authentic, true self. Wasting time and energy on a perceived idea of what others think about us, means we are wearing many different identities, depending on who we are with.
We act differently with our work colleagues, friends, family and partners, which means that we are adapting to our environment and not inside of ourselves.
In this article I will be describing some amazing and proven methods for changing the record in your mind. To get rid of the ‘monkey mind’ and get conscious and proactive with what we are thinking and what outside influences are literally keeping us in lives that are filled with depression, anxiety, unfulfillment and frustration .
We seem to fall in to two categories, those we are completely unaware that their thoughts are the cause of much of their problems and those who are endlessly chasing happiness. Where are you!
THE MONKEY MIND
The monkey mind is one that is unaware that they are being carried along and influenced by their inner world. This is not an easy place to live, as we are affected and influenced on outside factors, to determine how we feel.
A monkey mind’s way of thinking is not conscious that they can control what they are thinking about and as a consequence, decide their thought process. This can enable us to chose negative or positive ways of thinking.
Monkey mind is a buddhist term meaning, unsettled, restless, indecisive and uncontrolled. All of these emotions and feelings are the consequence being on the roller coaster of an untrained mind.
The majority of society are completely unaware that this is the cause of so much of their distress. In this distressed state, so many are finding other ways, outside of themselves to ease these uncomfortable feelings.
I am one such person who always looked outside of myself because basically, i didn’t know any better. I used behaviours that we an escape from what i was thinking and feeling about in my mind. This led to poor self esteem and a bouncing from one unhealthy escape to another, for more than twenty years. Today, i know better!
THE CONSCIOUS MIND
There are many extraordinary individuals who have mastered the art of conscious thinking and who share their teachings the world over. These people are from all different backgrounds, nationalities and circumstances. Some writing their findings down in the form of books, whilst others live in ashrams or temples.
What all of these people have discovered, is that the thoughts we think are shaping our behaviour, which has a direct impact on how we function in the world.
Being a conscious thinker, means that you can recognise that thoughts are just that… thoughts. No matter what thought comes into the mind, they do not affect behaviour.
If negativity comes in to the thoughts, it is a case of recognising them and letting them pass through, not get carried away and involved with them.
So many of us are really unconscious and living the drama that goes on within the mind. An example of this, is when we are at the cinema and time literally stands still. We become engrossed in the story on the big screen and stay in that space for as long as the films duration.
Being conscious, puts a stop to being engrossed. We experience thousands of thoughts, in just one day and this can be exhausting, if these thoughts are amping up our emotional responses. If the thoughts are negative or painful, this has a physical reaction within the body, with stress hormones being released.
A constant state of negativity can cause a list of problems, both physical and emotional. The world is in a mental health crisis, with stress and anxiety being rampant during the recent pandemic. This is due to thoughts of fear, taking control and the effects are the stress, depression, helplessness and so on.
If we were in control of our thinking, then we would be better equipped to cope, in times of crisis, as the inner chatter box is focused, only on those that we consciously chose to engage with.
GET TO KNOW WHAT THAT INNER VOICE IS SAYING
To better understand the root cause of any inner distress such as, anxiety or stress, we need to listen to what exactly that voice inside our mind is telling us.
If it is saying that we are no good and unlovable, guess what, that’s exactly what you will be. If your inner dialogue is infested with self doubt and fear, the chances are, you won’t be taking risks and go after those things in life that are truly satisfying.
As we have so many thoughts each and every day, it can be useful to write them in a journal, over the course of a few weeks. Then look back and you will find that they may-be similar in their context. Maybe they are self loathing, fearful and negative. In which case, you can get about the business of allowing such thoughts from having such a hold over your life.
Once the thoughts are identified, you can practice being aware of them. This will take time and practice but it is well worth doing, if you want to be the master of your own mind.
All you really need to get to grips with, is that we are all spiritual beings and we are NOT OUR THOUGHTS. WE ARE THE ONE IN THE BACKGROUND LISTENING TO THESE THOUGHTS.
To understand the difference between your thoughts and your true self, you will be on the path of enlightenment and spirituality.
We acquire beliefs about ourselves from our parents, school, peers and the media that we take on as ourself. They are not our self, they are learnt and conditioned ideas. Once you can separate those inner voices from the person behind all of that, the listener, your soul, then you have the ability to discover who you really are.
WHAT TO DO WHEN PROBLEMS ARISE
It does not matter what happens in our life. It maybe a death, a divorce, disease, job loss.. no matter what comes our way, it is how the mind reacts, will determine how we will cope.
A monkey mind may get anxious and fearful but a conscious mind will allow those inner thoughts of doubt and chatter but will let those thoughts simply pass through . What that means, is you don’t get pulled down or influenced to react but to be calm and allow those thoughts to be, whilst not letting them alter your behaviour.
Meditation has the potential to calm the mind, when thoughts are running riot. Mindfulness is a well known practice that seems to have become more mainstream over the past few years.
The process is becoming aware of the present moment. To move away from thoughts of the past or future and focus on where you are right now.. the sounds, smells, feelings and not the thoughts and inner chatter.
Mindfulness if practised on a daily basis will better improve the ability to be aware of the current moment, without regressing or future predictions.
If you take anything away from this article, i hope it is a renewed confidence in your ability to improve your feelings of helplessness. We all have full control over our inner thoughts, if we become aware that that is the case.
If you want more peace and happiness, simply allow those uncomfortable feelings and thoughts to just pass through. Relax and remain distant from them.
Also remember that silence and meditation is the best way to look within. Within ourselves, that quiet observer of thoughts, is who we really are.
I highly recommend the book, untethered soul, by Michael Singer, for a brilliant understanding of all i have tried to articulate here.