What are we really in control of?
I had a conversation with some friends the other day talking about some issues in life that "make" us angry and frustrated. Issues like, what other people do, traffic, the weather and other things that we let get the better of us. We went on to talk about how we can let go of what is out of our control and only focus on what is in our control. By recognizing that certain things are out of our control, we diminish the power those these circumstances and situations have over us.
But the question still remains…..what do we really have control over?
This is where the conversation got interesting. We began to talk about what we can control. There were 3 things that came up and most agreed were all things that we can control. The consensus was that we can control our thoughts, feelings and actions. This seems to be a general belief, but me being me, I had to stir up some shit. I never like to take things as they are. I like to push the envelope to make myself and others think more. So, this is what I came up with.
The argument was that, we can control our thoughts. I argued that you cannot control your thoughts. I posed the question; can you predict your next thought? No. Have you ever tried to meditate? If so, do thoughts randomly pop into your mind? Yes. With these questions in mind, we kind of agreed that we cannot control our thoughts for the most part. (We’ll get to that a little later)
Now, what about emotions?
Our emotions are a manifestation of our thoughts. Our emotions are generally a reaction to what we believe to be good, bad or indifferent. So, if we cannot control our thoughts then we certainly cannot control our emotions. So, all we’re left with is our actions.
Can we control our actions?,
I think we can unanimously agree that we can control our actions 99% of the time outside of reflexes or disease in the body like Tourette’s. With that said, here’s an example I think we can all relate to. Those mornings when you wake up and you do not want to go to the gym. Your mind makes up excuse after excuse as to why you can’t or shouldn’t go. You know you should go, but your mind is messing with you, telling you it’s OK to not go today because you’ll go for a run later. Then you decide, screw it, I’m going despite what my mind is telling me. You go to the gym and start moving. Once you get moving your mind starts to change, endorphins start to kick in and your feelings about being there begin to change. It was the out of control mind that tried to stop us from going, but it was the action of going that changed the mind and the emotion.
I know some of you are thinking, it was my thoughts that made me go, however, it was your original, out of control thought that made you not go in the first place and it was that second thought was a reaction to first one. That’s how the mind works. Unobserved, the mind/ego runs our lives.
What do I mean by the unobserved mind?
You know when sometimes a single thought pops into our mind and we take that single thought and make a huge story out of it, most of which will never happen and then we worry about it? That is the unobserved mind. You are letting your thoughts run your life by creating dramatic scenarios that don’t exist causing stress and mental suffering. Now, if we can pay attention to that first thought, recognize it and let it go, that is observing the mind. That is the action of mindfulness. Mindfulness does not help us control our thoughts, but allows us to observe them, to watch them, which allows us to control our next thought, which can then allow us to be in control of our emotions to where we respond to life situations rather than react to them. This is called presence. The more
often we can be present the more enjoyable life can be in my experience.
In conclusion, in my opinion, we must act our way into better thinking versus attempting to think our way into better action. Override the mind and act and the mind and emotions will follows suit, leading to a whole new way of living instead of reacting to life. .