F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “I’m a slave to my emotions, to my likes, to my hatred of boredom, to most of my desires.” Have you ever felt like you were held emotionally hostage to your thoughts and feelings and then acted out with dysfunctional behaviors that ended with negative consequences? We all have. It’s part and parcel of being perfectly imperfect humans. And when we let our thoughts and emotions get the best of us, life can feel like a roller coaster ride.
In the spring, Jews worldwide observe the holiday of Passover to commemorate the deliverance of the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt. The soul of the holiday is freedom and the entire objective is to achieve emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual transcendence. The exodus from Egypt was not simply a technical matter, but signified being freed from boundaries, constraints and limitations. We can all relate to that feeling of true freedom when we are freed from our fears, inhibitions and addictions.
True freedom can exist when there is a conscious and daily harmonious relationship between the mind, body and soul. Being a slave to the material world, an addiction, and/or a toxic relationship can be a painful experience where the mind/body/soul feels disjointed and disconnected.
The hardest labor one can ever endure is to be enslaved by the mind. Here are a few tips for setting yourself free from your mind:
Remember, you are not your mind.
First and foremost, in your mind’s eye, take a step back or helicopter up and observe your thoughts. We have a multitude of daily thoughts, but do you have to take a thought and go from zero to sixty? Do you have to let your thoughts run you? Are you a slave to your mind chatter? By observing your thoughts, you can then determine which thoughts can be affirming and empowering.
Is what you’re thinking true?
It really is a yes or no answer. For example, “I always fail.” Is that true? Of course not. There have been times when you have succeeded. It’s only for the moment that you’re feeling like a failure. Ask yourself what do you feel when you think the thought, “I always fail.” Do you feel pain, fear, loneliness, shame? Now, turn that thought around and say, “I like to fail.” Yes, turn it around. Okay, so if I fail I can learn valuable lessons. I can grow. I can really learn what humility is. The end result? I’m no longer enslaved by my thoughts.
Most human mistakes originate from impulsive, subjective, and reactive emotions that get the better of us. The mind, at its best, is meant to be the reflective force that objectively directs the subjective impulses, like a pilot flying a plane. The ability to channel our emotions by daily infusions of loving kindness, self-discipline, empathy, humility, forgiveness, integrity and dignity can free us from the ties that bind us.
Dr. Amy is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFC# 41252) and doctor of clinical psychology in Rancho Mirage. She can be reached at (760) 774.0047.