Perhaps the most freeing revelation for me has been that I don't have to, nor can I control my mind... but rather, I just ought to develop a better relationship with it.
Many personal development teachings either directly or indirectly refer to mind control as a necessary tenet of personal growth. I find this to be misleading.
Despite our noble attempts, how many of us actually succeed in controlling how our minds work?
If you tell it to shut up, it yells back. If you tell it to calm down, it freaks out. Then there's my favorite. You tell it not to think of something, and it shoves that something back in your face as if you begged for it.
It doesn't take long to realize that our minds, when left to their own devices, are completely out to sabotage us.
Do you want to continue listening to your neurotic mind, or instead learn to listen to the greater flow of life?
For me, one of the most freeing notions is that we don't have to control our mind, simply because that's impossible. If you're like me, your mind will do what it very well wants to do, all while you bear the brunt of it.
This is okay. It's okay because, while you might not be able to control it, you can choose how you interact with it.
You can practice paying less attention to it. You can try ignoring it. You can try injecting a positive thought every time it spews a negative thought. Or, you could even try throwing a party for all the negative thoughts it creates.
In other words, while it's nearly impossible to take full control over your mind, there are ample ways to interact with your mind, all of which you do have full control over.
It's less about mind control, and more about interaction with the mind. You have a right not to listen to your mind.
Think about it. How often does your mind serve you versus try to bring you down? How often is your mind producing uplifting thoughts that raise you into a state of peace and joy? If you're like me, that rarely happens.
Typically, my mind is telling me what it wants, what it doesn't want, who it likes, who it doesn't like, why someone else is wrong, etcetera. If you're like me, your mind makes a lot of ridiculous noise.
But I'm here to tell you, that's okay. It does this because of your past. Right now, we can break this pattern - no, not break the thought pattern - but break the pattern of us listening to our thoughts, and then even worse, believing them.
Your mind will talk. Let it! You don't have to listen! And you certainly don't have to believe it.
Be compassionate to yourself. You're in there, dealing with a neurotic mind that won't leave you alone. It's noisy when you're trying to sleep, noisy when you're trying to work, and noisy pretty much any time of the day. If you knew someone as noisy as your mind, you'd quickly get rid of them.
I'd say this is pretty good evidence that your mind doesn't really do a great job serving you when it's left undirected.
Don't worry about not being able to control your mind. Instead, focus on understanding why your mind is doing what it's doing.
We all know we can't shut our minds up. But surely we can learn why it does what it does, and perhaps learn to interact with it from a place of deeper understanding, right?
Live with substance!
P.S. If you're still curious about why the mind does what it does, you can find more insight in this post: "The Double-edged Sword of the Mind"