Warning: Naughty language ahead.
See the Figments of the Mind for what they Are.
We really like taking ourselves and what our minds tell us super seriously. We assume that everything our minds say is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
But what if it wasn’t?
What if a whole lot of the shit that our minds come up with are just figments? What if they’re just messages from a far-away past messing up our present? Well, that would set everything in a completely different perspective, wouldn’t it?
Just take the thought of pitching an article for a huge site, say, elephant journal, for example. My mind immediately went: “Excuse me, Sophie, but who do you think you are? Why on earth would they ever consider publishing your work? I mean, you’re Dutch, you don’t have a degree in writing and what you say has already been said trillions of times. Don’t even bother.”
My reply to my mind’s rant was as follows: “Thank you very much, my dear mind. I am, however, going to try anyway.”
And so I did, and tadaaa, here I am right in front of you on elephant journal. How did that happen? Because I’ve decided to actively ignore my mind’s bullshit and do what I want to do anyway.
And my mind doesn’t like it one bit. I can tell by the shouting that I’m being exposed to at this very moment.
But I’m used to it by now; my mind always tries to stop me from doing all sorts of risky things. It especially likes jumping at me at the most improbable moments; in the middle of the night, for example. It immediately starts showing me the ever-decreasing numbers in my bank account, it tries to lure me into thinking that setting up my online life coaching business has a close to zero chance of succeeding, and that I will end up living with my mum and going back to my old, boring teaching job.
This lovely little nighttime chat isn’t very helpful when you want to use the night for other things—like sleep, for example. So I just lie there, listening to my mind’s bedtime story and feeling the rollercoaster of emotions that is thrown in as a bonus. Yay for adrenaline!
Being a creative mind doesn’t help in these moments of spontaneous horror-script writing either. It means that a molehill gets turned into Kilimanjaro and small challenges get blown out of proportion. Ah yes, how quickly the mind can drive you up the wall, into deepest despair and back again—it has a true talent for that.
But my ability to sit and listen and just observe what freak show my mind has come up with this time has also improved rather significantly over the past years. I’ve learnt how to detach myself from the nonsense it produces and see it for what it is: nonsense.
Of course, the mind isn’t always about spreading bullshit into the world, and it does come in handy when we need to think strategically or stop for a red light, for example. But I’ve come to see the difference between useful and useless thoughts—and that has allowed me to steer away from anxiety and toward my dreams, no matter how reckless they may seem.
Since adopting this new approach, I’ve discovered that only when you really try something will you know if your mind was right or wrong. Only if you experiment, get out there and get your hands dirty do you find out if the figments of the mind are true or not. Only when you actually live your life and experience what it has to offer will you be able to say this was or this wasn’t such a good idea. But letting your mind stop you from even taking the first step will definitely keep you stuck.
The mind is a funny little friend that bases its information on fear, past experiences and outdated beliefs. It’s lovely for trying to keep us safe with its never-ending warnings, but what it’s actually doing is keeping us trapped in its tiny little world—in its so-called comfort zone, which is actually never really comfortable at all.
Getting out of that uncomfortable comfort zone makes our minds go haywire, since it’s not in line with what it’s used to. And that’s the whole catch: the more you train your mind to become flexible in the face of new, scary and maybe even risky things, the more it gets used to this new status quo of adrenaline-filled activities.
So, stop taking your mind so seriously and follow your heart instead.
When your mind’s ready, it will admit what the heart always knew—that it was right from the start.
Author: Sophie Kruijsdijk
Editors: Emily Bartran; Katarina Tavčar