The one place where no one else can control us, dictate to us, or dominate us is in our magnificent mind. But we often forget this fact, simply because it’s the case that we are controlled in so many other contexts.
Often times, as a practical matter, other people have a fair amount of say about how we spend our time and how we expend our resources. That is to say, we agree to trade a certain amount of control over our time and resources to other people (such as employers and relationship partners) in exchange for certain benefits (such as a paycheck or participation in a relationship).
As a result, we get used to the idea that we’re not fully in control of our time and resources.
Sometimes this isn’t such a big deal, insofar as we accept that we’ve “signed up” for that particular exchange. Sometimes it’s an inconvenience that we’d prefer not to endure. Sometimes it’s considerably painful, and we expend a lot of energy trying to figure out how to escape unfair onerous tradeoffs.
It’s true that we often don’t have practical control over our external circumstances.
But we do have complete sovereignty over what happens in our minds.
There are times when this doesn’t FEEL true. When we battle depression; when we’re fatigued; when we struggle with the programming of years past. There are times when it feels as if we have no more control over what goes in inside our minds than we do over our external circumstances.
But the fact remains that we, and we alone, create our worlds within.
We decide what images get to linger on our mental screens.
We decide what soundtrack to provide.
We decide what narratives, what stories, endure in our mental worlds.
We decide which characters are more important and less important than others.
So if this is true— that we alone have control over the mental universe we carry around in our magnificent minds— then why does it feel so often as if our mental landscapes are dominated by people, places, and things that we did not choose?
Mostly because other people have programmed us to believe that we have far less power over our mental lives than we actually do.
The entire process of therapy— as far as I’m concerned, anyway— is training ourselves to take back both the power and the responsibility of creating and living in our mental worlds. Getting our magnificent minds to work for us, rather than against us.
Getting on our own damn side.
How do we harness our magnificent minds to begin creating our mental worlds, instead of being left at the mercy of other people, who would strongly prefer that our mental worlds reflect THEIR priorities, wishes, and models of reality?
First thing’s first: we need to fully accept that we do create our worlds within. We need to get past how intimidating that sounds. We need to get past the extent to which we’ve been conditioned to believe it’s not true. We need to open ourselves up to the possibility that, no matter how much others would prefer that our magnificent minds be at their beck and call, that our minds are our own, private domains, and only we exercise dominion over that landscape within.
Yeah. Sounds easier than it is. It’s one of those tasks that is simple— but not easy.
The next step is we have to make some choices, and do a little bit of research. We need to make choices about what images we want populating our mental “screens.” We need to make choices about what characters we want to be part of our story within. We need to make choices about what that story is— what our journey is all about. We need to make choices about what music is appropriate to that journey.
It’s a lot like writing your own script, producing your own movie. Which is daunting, given that a lot of us never even knew before that producing our own movie was even possible, let alone that we have to assume complete responsibility for it.
But, like conquering most daunting things— the key is to practice.
To be willing to let yourself be bad at it at first.
Then to practice, practice, practice. Visualize, visualize, visualize. Journal, journal, journal.
A good starting place is to sit down with your notebook and write at the top of a sheet of paper: “What do I want my mental world to look like?”
Then, set a timer for five minutes, and just let yourself write— write down anything and everything that comes into your mind. Don’t censor yourself. Just let whatever thoughts happen, happen, and write them down. Even if the first thoughts that pop into your mind are something like, “How should I know? I guess…”
Your brain knows what it needs out of your mental world, your mental movie. It might have “stuffed” this information, but when you give it permission to let it out…it will let it out. It may be slow at first, it may be a trickle… but it will come.
You can create your mental world.
You do create your mental world.
Now let’s get to it.