We’re going to do a little thought experiment today. Take a moment to think back through your life and pull to the surface negative things people have said about you. In just a few minutes I bet you can come up with at least 5 things that someone has said to you in your lifetime that hurt, and you can probably remember a bunch of details surrounding those comments.
Now I'd like you to try to do the same for positive memories.
It’s more difficult, right? You can't pinpoint exactly what was said and how it made you feel as easily. Positive memories don’t have the same charge because negative things have a greater effect on our sense of self. This is what’s called negativity bias.
Negativity bias means that negative things that happen in our lives feel much larger than positive things.
The mind is wired for negativity. It's always on the look out for possible pain points so it can protect you from any kind of hurt. It wants to be in control so it can create a sense of safety.
Like I told you yesterday, the RAS filters information based on what we already believe to be true. In order to make sense of life it limits our realm of possibility. When we do something over and over again (like say something false about ourselves) grooves form in the brain creating habitual responses. This is one reason why it can be very difficult to change.
The beautiful and liberating truth I want to point out to you today is that you are not your mind.
In understanding the way the mind works you can begin to liberate yourself from its mechanism. Your mind may be wired for negativity, but you get to choose who you are. For example, just because a negative thought about someone else moves through your mind it doesn't mean you are a bad person. It just means this thought moved through your mind for any number of reasons. It doesn't define you unless you allow it to.
Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning, said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Most of us give our minds too much power. Most of us live as victims to the stories our minds have dictated about ourselves. Today I want you to sit with the possibility that you can take back your power. You can choose to give your mind less authority. You can align with the truth that you are not your mind.
A few years ago I was in the presence of someone who I found to be very beautiful, and my mind reacted by saying something like this, “Look how beautiful her skin is. You’ll never have skin like that. She’s so stylish. You should dress more like that.” These thoughts may even pop into my mind today from time to time.
The thoughts themselves are not problems. Our reactions to them are.
The less weight we choose to give these thoughts the less power they have over us. So when that thought came up about me not being as beautiful or stylish as this woman I simply let it go. I didn't make a story out of it. I didn't allow it to be true.
It’s almost as if they were wasps flying around my mind. Because I hardly paid attention to them they got bored and eventually flew away. But if I were to engage with them, they’d sting.
Through the practice of meditation and Breathwork (an active meditation I teach and practice), I’ve become skilled at calling bullshit on my mind. What I mean by this is that if my mind has something to say I know it might very well not be true. It might be a product of cultural conditioning or a false belief I've unconsciously adopted.
The problem is that most of us are so attached to our minds that we believe whatever it is it might be saying. When you begin a meditation practice it helps to give you the space Viktor Frankl is speaking about. Within that space we have the ability to choose.
A fun technique to help liberate you from your mind is to think of your mind as your rude, blabbermouth friend.
If your friend starts to say something negative you can slowly creep away from them.
We want to begin to discern between your ego (the part of the mind that holds you back from being your best self) and your authentic self (your highest self).
Who do you want to be in charge?
It’s your choice.
It’s your job to become aware of the different parts of your self and to choose your higher self, the part of yourself that loves all of you and all of everyone else. That part of you doesn’t come from the mind, it comes from the heart. So when your mind starts acting out focus on your heart.
I love this quote from Louise Hay which exemplifies how to stand in your power in relationship to your mind:
"I say 'Out' to every negative thought that comes to my mind. No person, place, or thing has any power over me, for I am the only thinker in my mind. I create my own reality and everyone in it."
For some bonus material feel free to download my 5-step guide to training your brain for positivity here.
I always have a choice.
I create my own reality and everyone in it.
That mirror is waiting for you...