You can't always heal the mind using the mind

mini musings

Your heart is a wonderful, powerful, sacred fool. It cares not for the right way to do things. It cares not for what the mind says is real and not real. It lives according to an inner wisdom that cannot be dictated to or controlled by anything — Alana Fairchild.

The biggest shift I’ve ever made in getting over my anxiety has been letting my Soul lead the way. The heart knows what it wants. (I promise that’s the only painful cliché you’ll have to read today.)

And the heart is always trying to tell you what it wants, always trying to nudge you in the direction that’s true for you — but you need to train yourself to listen. Or how it happened for me was I ignored it long enough that it just started shouting at me until I paid attention.

Listening to your soul means stepping out of the mind

Your mind will be your biggest opponent when trying to move past fear, because the mind tends to be… how can I put this kindly… a little overdramatic. You can’t always wait until the mind says that it feels ready. It might never feel ready.

So yeah, sometimes you really do need to take that time to gain extra information, hone your skills and whatnot. And other times, the mind is never going to be ready to take that next step, and so it’ll keep creating a list of things you need to check off before you can start. And I feel that’s where a lot of people get stuck.

That’s where I was stuck for years. I don’t regret anything because I learned so many valuable things about myself in that time. But if I had never taken that little leap, if I was still waiting to feel prepared, I’d still be at home, consuming information nonstop but never acting on it.

For me, breaking out of that pattern involved a lot of spiritual work to stop automatically believing all the stories that my mind was telling me. And the most important thing I learned about myself during this time was that you can’t always heal the mind using the mind.

We think that the mind should be able to fix everything — that we should be able to think and plan and strategize our way out of any problem. But how do you do this when your mind is the same one keeping you stuck?

I think that sometimes we rely too much on our mental abilities and forget to appreciate all the other tools and senses available to us. But growth and healing can occur in so many other ways — not just through thinking. And I had to learn this for myself, through months of trial and error. Because we live in a world that has a certain amount of scorn for anything to do with spirituality, intuition, and any other modality that isn’t cognitive.

But in my experience, one of the best skills I’ve learned is how to put the mind in the back seat. I say to my mind, “Thanks for trying to keep me safe. Thanks for trying to protect me from failure. But I want to try this thing and see where it goes.” Then I put my Soul in the driver’s seat and let it steer me ahead.

Turning down the volume of mind chatter:

And if you practice this long enough, after a while you start to recognize what mind chatter looks like. I know that when I wake up, before I’ve even opened my eyes, my mind starts up a stream of endless thoughts around all the things I’m scared of that day, things I’m worried about that I did yesterday, and an overall sense of dread of “this isn’t going to work out, you know? You’ll fail eventually.”

All this happens before I’ve even properly opened my eyes.

But now that I have so much practice with letting Soul lead, I don’t let my mind walk me down that path of freaking out. I can gently recognize, “Oh, that’s my mind doing its thing. It’s so scared right now because I’m taking it totally out of its comfort zone, but that’s okay. I know where we’re going and I know we’ll be alright.” And then I just turn down the volume of the mind chatter and go about my day.

The fears don’t disappear.

The negative thoughts don’t magically transform into rays of sunshine and positivity. All that normal thought stuff is always going on.

But I don’t try and fight my mind anymore. I just give it space to freak out and do its thing, while also understanding that it doesn’t mean I have to go along for the ride.