If you have not read part 1 of this article, start here.
TRUTH #6 You can feel difficult things without letting them overtake you
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” – Buddha
When you give yourself the space to feel the negative emotion, the pain or anger you can process it rather than suffer from it. If you follow me or read a lot of my stuff you will notice I talk about pure pain vs. polluted pain a lot to really try and hammer this into people’s minds. “Pure pain” is the inevitable pain that is part of the 50/50, the experience of being human. “Polluted pain” is the additional debris, the shit we add to the pain that is unnecessary and causes us to suffer. It’s your thoughts about the pain that create the pollution. As Buddha said, “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”
When you don’t accept the truth that life is just as much about feeling the good as the bad you start to resist or run away from feelings instead of processing them. Feelings are vibrations in the body and they do not always feel good, but you are built to be able to feel an emotion you could possibly feel. You are capable of feeling anything and not reacting to it. When you try and escape, hide or are in denial about your feelings it creates friction. It often leads to buffering actions like overeating, binge drinking, burying yourself in work, staying in unhealthy relationships etc. I could write pages on this and I will at some point, but I’ll leave you with something to ponder. The primary reason for doing or not doing something is we want to feel or not feel a certain way. If you were willing to feel anything because you know you could process it without it overtaking you what possibilities would that open up in your life?
Here is another example that ties some of these truths we’ve covered together. I was working with my brother and we were discussing a problem he was having, separating out the circumstances from his thoughts about them. He was having a hard time with the idea that circumstances are neutral. He said, “For example you’re telling me if a random stranger just came up and punched me in the face that would be neutral?”
I said yes it’s neutral because the fact that you got punched in the face means nothing until you think a thought about it. Would most people think some variation of a negative thought that would lead to a negative feeling if they got punched in the face? Yes. But what they thought would be different and thus your thinking is still what empowers you to control what is in your control, which is what you choose to think about it.
You could be standing outside a bar on your phone and some drunk guy punches you. Version A of you could think, “my head hurts, I was at the wrong place at the wrong time to get hit by this person for no legitimate reason, I’m going to go home and lay down and get some ice on it and deal with the pain.” You would feel pain and maybe embarrassed and go home and care for your pain, take some Tylenol etc. OR version B of you could think “How dare this person hit me, who do they think they are” and,”My friends will think I’m pathetic if I don’t do something.” You could get yourself and your ego worked up and become furious and run after the guy, get in a full on fight, be beat up worse and end up in jail when a police officer has to break it up.
The version B of you ended up beat up to shit sitting in jail NOT because you randomly got hit in the face (the circumstance), but because of what you thought about it. Version A of you still experienced pain, but it was the clean pure pain not the polluted pain. Version A felt and processed the pain without letting it overtake them. They may still have had the thought enter their mind that this person was a complete asshole and they deserved to get hit back but chose to let that thought go or they chose to think a different thought that wouldn’t make then feel furious.
The point is life is going to randomly punch you in the face, a lot, do you want to punch yourself in the face on top of it? You can’t control that life is going to beat you up at times, but you can decide what you are going to focus on in your mind and think about. You ultimately decide if you are going to add the pollution with what you think and create additional suffering yourself, you decide what the outcome will be.
TRUTH #7 You can choose your thought inputs and you should always like your why for the thoughts you choose
“You need to select your thoughts the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
Thoughts are optional. You do not need to keep thinking the same things you have always thought, you can choose to let them go or think new better thoughts, I share exactly how in my Mind Management eBook. Often you don’t feel like you have control over your thoughts, but you do. You can actually rewire and enhance your brain. I won’t go into too much detail here, but neuroplasticity is the brain’s amazing capacity to change and create new neural pathways in the brain if you do the work. Your thinking habits can grow new pathways in the brain and eliminate undesired ones.
You can decide to think the same thing about a situation or think differently, whatever you choose make sure you like your “why” behind it. These are a just a few reasons that would not be adequate for me to keeping choosing to think or not think something:
- That’s just how I was raised to think about this
- I’m afraid to think something else because I won’t know what to do
- That’s what I feel I should think
- I’ll be judged if I think this instead of that
- That’s how I have always thought about it
When you find the thought that is leading to the feelings, behaviors and outcomes ask yourself, do I like the reason I am choosing to think that?
TRUTH #8 You are 100% responsible for your life
“The moment you accept responsibility for EVERYTHING in your life is the moment you can change ANYTHING in your life.” – Hal Elrod
Given what you think creates your reality, you must take ownership of the results of your life. This isn’t about blame, this is about taking full responsibility for where you are currently and the outcomes you will have in your future. Neither are because of the circumstances, but the way you have thought about them or will think about them.
If you have been complaining about your weight, mom, where you live, relationship, career, self-esteem, or finances for a long time constantly making excuses, it’s hard to admit the negative thoughts you had that were a huge contributor to where you are right? It’s hard to take ownership of that 40lbs you wish you didn’t have instead of blaming your stressful work life, break-up, or whatever else. When you start to dissect your thinking you might not like what you find. Whatever the thoughts are, it can be hard sometimes to get dead honest with yourself. When you take full responsibility for your current results and identify your thoughts that have been fueling those unwanted results it may not feel great BUT that is the catalyst to grow and change, that is where your power is.
TRUTH #9 Given you are responsible for your life, you are empowered to create it
“My life didn’t please me, so I created my life.” – Coco Chanel
If someone or something else is to blame for where you are then you are screwed because you can’t control the outside world. When you embrace all these fundamental truths you go from a victim mindset to an empowering one, you will approach life differently seeing it from a new lens. Once you start to get the way the mind model works and start leveraging it, it is incredibly empowering. It’s your choice to think and feel whatever you want and that gives you power. Paradoxically, the more you give up trying to control outside circumstances to make life better, the more control you gain by mastering your inner world. You get to choose what you want your reality to be and that is liberating!
TRUTH #10 If you want to create your life your need to think consciously, on purpose, with purpose instead of pre-conditioned unconscious automatic thinking
“If you don’t make a conscious choice…someone else will decide for you. It may be your boss, a family member, an advertiser, a collective social influence or someone or something else, but it won’t be something of your deliberate choosing.” – Steve Pavlina
When you have the empowering mindset you get in the habit of questioning your thoughts, and asking yourself if you want to continue to think them.
- You might not choose to think something different at all or to think something completely different
- You may want to allow yourself to feel those exact emotions and not feel differently about the situation, to for example say I want to allow myself to feel grief right now
- You could decide that a thought isn’t worth giving your focus to and you’re just going to let it go
Whatever you choose, you are actually choosing it! You are making a conscious intentional choice instead of thinking on autopilot default mode. Your brain wants to think the same things it’s always thought. It wants to take shortcuts to conserve energy. It’s still wired in fight-or-flight mode that keeps worry, stress and fear front and center in your thinking. So much of your mind is on autopilot, on the default settings in the software of your brain. When you separate your circumstances from the thoughts it helps give you the awareness of what you’re automatically thinking so you can choose to think on purpose, with purpose or to tap into your mindful thinking and simply let the thoughts pass by and not give them unnecessary attention. I dive into this in greater detail as I talk about the two main aspects of mind management in my book: your thinking response which is developing a mindful mind, and thinking on purpose which is leveraging thought creation techniques. If you aren’t mindfully, thinking on purpose with purpose about everything in your life then you aren’t really actively creating it.