I know the mind seems more cruel than fun sometimes, but there is a bit of a game going on … one where it may seem like the odds are stacked against you, but not if you know the inside rules and play accordingly.
I’ve been studying positive psychology and the mind for nearly a decade and there’s so much to be said for “playing the game.”
I was the victim of my mind for many years and suffered steadily because of it. Now, I have a deep practice of awareness where I’m able to observe my mind going south and catch it before it catapults me right back to the familiar fear and loathing–most of the time;)
For me, it began with distancing myself from the thoughts and gaining perspective. Questioning the thoughts was my first aha. “Oh, you can do that?” Then finding some space between me and the reaction/emotion.
The game: Does thought A need to elicit emotional response B?
Hmm. That’s new.
I’ll give an example. When Elisa and I first started dating there was this one popular song on the radio that she’d immediately turn. It was an ex-g thing. One day though, I asked her to just listen. Choose a different reaction, I suggested. She did. And although it appeared uncomfortable for a moment, that was that. We hear it often now and to no response.
I know it’s just a song, but we have more choice than we imagine. Just because thought A has always elicited response B doesn’t mean it has to no’ mo’! Try it;)
I also created habits where I sought reasons to be positive as opposed to negative. Unlearning essentially, the cultural norm of bitching and complaining.
I went on complaint cleanses and put myself through my own lil’ attitude rehab, to rewire negative behavioral habits. I still catch myself in the act, especially when I’m around negative people. It’s contagious! That is, if you’re not careful.
I had been a victim my whole life and that was the lens from which I saw the world: a parking ticket, an unexpected bill, a sick family member, a flat tire. Woe. Is. Frickin. Me!
Even I was annoyed with my inner monologue. Ew!
It wasn’t constant. I’d go weeks and weeks happy go lucky, but when something struck. BOOM! Back down to rock bottom where the world was obviously against me, those damn cards I was dealt.
Surprise! I still get parking tickets and unexpected bills and flat tires, but each incident is separate, hardly proof for a cruel world.
I threw out my old mental calculator (actually, that’s not totally true … I still have one that adds up all the chores I’ve completed in comparison to Elisa;) But that’s totally different.) I have a freedom of emotion where I choose how I respond, something I never thought possible.
And it’s all because I was willing to pay the game. That, and take myself a little less seriously.
PS … there is still some debate as to where our “mind” is located, although most of us associate it with the brain. Another crazy tidbit is that the term positive psychology wasn’t coined until 1996. Prior to that all we studied was depression. It’s no wonder that we’re just now sorting out how to be happy!
PSS … Above pic, Jill Bolte Taylor. Badass TED!
I leave you with this: What tools have you learned to play your own mind game? Are they effective? Let us know!