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Mind Your Mind

Who or what controls your mind?

This isn’t asked as a leading conspiratorial question— no chips or tin foil near. No, it is asked from a very grounded point of view— simply, what powers (or impedes) you at the most fundamental level?

The mind is a powerful thing— the most powerful, actually. From extreme stories of mind over matter like spontaneous healings, underdog victories, and seemingly miraculous feats to our own everyday experiences… this reality isn’t a secret. Our mind is truly the only ceiling any of us really have. It alone determines if we succeed or fail— because it alone determines if we’ll even try.

“People don’t change” is a thought most of us have probably heard (maybe even uttered?). But just because something is common certainly does not mean it is true. Actually, isn’t the opposite true? Who knows anybody who has stayed the same? Sure… the difference between who a person was then and who they are now is a contrast that varies individually, but we are all dynamic beings. What makes the contrast starker for some? After all, we all start out on the same proverbial playing field as total dependents requiring external care for our every need.

You might say their family, socio-economic status, geographic location, genetics, culture, amount of personal hardship and suffering, etc. And you wouldn’t be wrong. We can argue that those factors don’t matter— just like we can argue that the sky isn’t blue. But truth is truth, and our outer and inner environments absolutely influence us and our capacity for growth. But is it really those factors themselves that are responsible for why some grow faster or higher? Who doesn’t know somebody who “beat the odds?” No; all of these factors serve to influence what we believe about ourselves. They influence our minds, which then influences the manifested consequences we might attribute to those factors alone.

This might seem nuanced, but it is an important distinction. It’s the difference between assuming a victim perspective and realizing that you, despite any and all factors stacked against you, can be victorious. It necessarily relates that trying is worth it and that your effort needn’t be in vain. It has the power to turn despair into hope. Similarly to receiving the key to your first car, this realization is the “key” to moving you from passenger to driver. Yet this itself— that what you believe about yourself is your true limiting factor— does not equate to an obvious immediate change. But, inevitably, change will happen. There must be a surrendering (not to be confused with a giving up) that drives this process to its completion. Once our perspective shifts from victim to victor, success is a natural consequence... and we will, naturally, be cognizant of this and witness this truth if we don't try to fight it.

Once we come to know that we are not mere subjects to our circumstances we also come to know that we can choose, and choose differently. Continuing with the metaphor of the car, just as we change our familiar paths as needed (based on construction, the weather, traffic, etc.), we begin to change our familiar habits. We act based on what we believe. If we no longer believe that there is nothing we can do to change, then we will no longer do nothing. We learn to navigate according to where we want to be instead of only from where we are. We’ll likely discover that both additions and subtractions from varying aspects of our lives should be made. We’ll undoubtedly make mistakes, and through much trial and error our discernment will be sharpened. All because we will have come to understand that our mind is powerful and something worth tending to.

Personally, I’d argue we don’t have to so much “overcome” our minds as we do train them. The mind is a miraculous thing to be supported, not fought against. By being conscious of what we feed our minds—what we allow and don’t allow to influence them— we can keep them healthy, well, and equipped to lead us to success. This is an easy concept to write about but more difficult to practice. Homeostasis is vital to living human beings, and we are designed to adapt— for better but, sometimes, also for worse. Thus, we must believe that our minds can and are influenced and that our minds, not our circumstances, can determine our outcomes. Only then, accepting that our external factors don’t decide our fate, can we consciously break the script we’ve been living from and really live consciously. It also helps to have good company! As Izaak Walton said, “Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.” Furthermore, “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could” (Zig Ziglar).

So who or what is controlling your mind—your thoughts, your actions, your emotions? Hopefully it is nothing but that which is good and true. Because whether you want to be a successful artist, just learn how to put a pencil to drawing paper, or help your blooming artist embrace and grow their talent… you must first believe it is possible.


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