The title of this article would seem contradictory or paradoxical when one considers that the first twenty to twenty-five years of our lives are spent doing little more than educating ourselves on how to live the rest of our lives. School, college, universities or other speciality-trade institutions, eventually imbibe us with knowledge that we can use to succeed in life – we hope at least.
So how can one’s mind be the biggest barrier to success when seemingly, we spend our first years doing nothing but empowering it?
Without dipping into psycho-babble, philosophy or any other studies, I think we can all agree on this one observation, because I have never met a human being who did not have this particular problem. Our mind seems to have a life of its own sometimes; it talks to us, advises us, holds us back, reminds us about possible failure, worries us, pokes us from dark corners and recesses; the very “voice of reason” in our head which seems to scratch at our souls.
This will be a moot point with some; some may violently disagree with this statement or observation if you will; others may consider it an over simplification of a very complex problem and of course, some schools of thought would agree wholeheartedly that success does not come from listening to this vague ethereal voice which resonates between our earlobes – but rather, that success comes from listening to ONESELF, and not the mind which is nothing more than a reservoir for our experiences and our lessons learned.
To understand what I am saying, consider this. A mind can be filled with anything, good or bad. You’ve heard the term, garbage in – garbage out, and that certainly applies to a mind too. If you are educated to believe that all men and women of one color or caste have privileges, and others of a different bearing or skin hue do not, that is the MIND being imbibed. If someone tells you that you are not capable of success because of this or that… and you buy it, that is the mind at work on you. These are not elemental factors, they are simply writings on the slate of life; and they do not define one, they simply affect one to the degree that one listens.
Technically speaking, you could throw a man into a wall, run him over with a car, beat him half to death and you might fill his mind with haunting images of terrible experiences and pain, but you can never kill his drive, his zeal and his ambitions which are an essential part of HIM and not his mind. The mind is a reservoir for experience and learning, that is all. It is a mechanism which can serve us, but only if we do not empower it to become us.
A simplistic example to illustrate this could be as follows. Two people attend a lecture. One is deeply moved and decides that it has profound meaning to them and decides to change the course of their life – the other gets nothing from it and walks away. That is the MIND. We assign values to what we learn and to what we experience. One person fails at a relationship and it becomes a traumatic experience in their lives which sends them into the depths of depression; while yet another, of similar circumstances, decides to use the experience to springboard his or her life to a higher level and to learn from it. One goes up and one goes down and it all has to do with personally assigned value and the empowerment of one’s mind to influence one.
A mind serves only two purposes. It retains knowledge and experience from the PAST, and it provides evaluative or comparative information for the future. But a mind cannot LIVE life for one. It is just a reservoir of information to be tapped into. But if you empower it, give it credence and value to control your decisions, your motivation, your drive – it can seem to act with a life of its own. If you decide that you can only be happy if you have lots of money, or your life will never be the same unless your girlfriend takes you back, then your mind will most certainly play that card on you, like a Blackjack dealer, and you will feel controlled by some ethereal hand, but one which YOU put there, and no one else.
I know, all the gray-goop theorist, the “professionals” who try to convince us that our mind and our brains are one in the same thing, will object vehemently with this because it over-simplifies a subject which they are busily trying to convince us is a horribly complex one, and the result of neuron’s synapsing and quacking between millions of nerve endings; and that everyone’s potential is measured by the size of their left lobular ventricle and the … well, it’s a nice theory and it sells lots of psychotropic drugs to people who buy into the idea, but it isn’t true.
It sounds terribly over simplified, I know, but in fact, there is something to be achieved by understanding the simplicity in this – because the greatest truths in life are also the simplest of truths.
If you listen to your mind, if you are motivated by the usual dynamics and impulses from within it; that is worry, anxiety, fear, or whatever, realize that is the MIND, it is NOT you. You are dynamically and quintessentially able, positive and quite unstoppable. Why do you think on one hand that the state spends so much time and money to educate one and all on how to be civilized members of society, establishing the ground-rules of propriety, education, potential and such? A mind is a good control mechanism in as much as it is a tool for retaining knowledge and experience. “Right-mindedness” can be educated into people – and that is both a good thing and bad thing, depending on the limitations imposed.
Only YOU can live life in the NOW. The mind has a limited value, it can provide you with past values and experiences to help in your evaluations and decisions about the future, but realize it only operates on PAST and FUTURE potentials and in the end it is you who must walk the road to success – not your mind.
Réal Laplaine is an author and speaker.