Have you ever finished an argument or conversation, only to realize five or 25 minutes later that you are still having the conversation in your head? Have you ever experienced someone saying something to you that triggers an emotion and you were left wondering where your reaction originated? Why does this happen? Many people seek the answer outside themselves, through reading books or learning how to understand others. However, the best thing you can do to understand your experiences is to develop the relationship that will make the biggest impact in your life—your relationship with your own mind.

What I have come to realize through my experience in the field of psychology for the past 12 years is that there is a misconception about what psychology actually is. When I first started the journey into the field, what intrigued me was the definition of psychology. The term “psychology” is the combination of two terms: study (ology) and soul, spirit, or mind (psyche). It is believed that the Hindu Vedas contains the oldest record of man’s examination of mind and spirit.

Although psychology’s origins lie in the study of the soul, throughout the last several decades we have lost sight of this focus.

The psychology prevalent today focuses mainly on the study of behaviors, primarily developing medication to influence behaviors or techniques designed to manipulate behaviors.

The benefits of psychology’s recent focus include a greater understanding of human behaviors and the perception of psychology as a concrete science. Other results include increased effectiveness of marketing strategies, pharmaceutical profits, and the illusion of the quick fix. These advances do little to help you truly understand your mind or make changes that will lead you to a life of true joy, meaning, and purpose.
A true understanding of psychology starts with recognizing that:

Our mind is a tool that is part of us—but it is not who we are.

It’s a common misconception that our mind controls us, when in reality we control our mind.

There is constant mental activity going on within all of us, like a hamster running on a wheel. Our minds are always chattering, analyzing problems, visualizing what will happen tomorrow, recalling and reliving yesterday’s failures or successes, or just day-dreaming. All of this thinking produces ever changing feelings and emotions and an endless parade of judgments of ourselves, others, and circumstances. The problem with the incessant mental noise is that it does not allow us to live truly in the moment, which is where we can connect to spirit and true self. Many people have simply accepted the continual parade of images and ideas as inevitable. Others never even consider it—they think they ARE their mind.

So where am I going with all this? It is to remind you of the great power that lies within you—the relationship that you have with your mind. Some of the greatest minds in recent history, such as Einstein, believed that their brilliant ideas did not come from constant thinking, but that they actually came from finding a place of internal silence that provided them with access to infinite creativity, without the limitations of their own past experiences.

Remember that every wonderful thing that you see in the physical world started as an idea in the invisible world that we call the mind.

Below are pointers on how to start developing a relationship with your mind and taking control of your most powerful tool.

1. Keep a Daily Journal: Journaling is one of the most powerful things you can do. Seeing your thoughts on paper gives you an understanding of patterns and cycles that you may not have noticed, especially emotional triggers. These experiences, places, words, or people, which your mind has associated with an emotion, become triggered in an attempt to make you aware of them. By being aware, you regain your power to decide what emotion you want to feel.

2. Keep a Gratitude Journal: It has been shown that if you write down what you are grateful for every day for 30 days it actually improves happiness, changes your neural connections, and it programs your mind to focus on the positive.

3. Focus on the Now: When you’re in traffic, running late, in a shopping line, or your mind just starts to wander, bring your attention back to what’s around you and your current experience. Remember that if you can’t change it right now, why cause unnecessary stress? The only experience that is real is the one you have right now; make the most of it.

4. Control Your Command Center: Your brain has a region called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). Your brain takes in millions of bits of information, but you are only aware of a small percentage of it (about 2,000). By directing your RAS to seek a solution or focus on something, you are directing your brain to focus the 2,000 bits on that request. For example: Have you ever had a name of something you wanted to say but could not get it out and then several hours later you are doing something else and the name suddenly comes to your mind? That happens because you had given a command and your mind continued to look for the answer even though you were not aware of it. Try this: Ask your mind “How can I make an extra $200 a month?” Take in whatever ideas pop into your head throughout the day and if you wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, write it down.

5. Visualize: This is very powerful because your mind does not know the difference between what is real and what you imagine or remember. If you close your eyes and visualize what you want, the command center (see number 4) will find ways to create it in reality.

6. Use Affirmations: Recognize negative or limiting thoughts you may have, then create a positive affirmation you can tell yourself throughout the day that empowers your thinking. Try placing a copy of the affirmation around your house to remind you to keep control of your thoughts. The mind will see and hear this constant message and find ways to make it true.

Your relationship to your mind is the most important alliance, holding the key to your success, joy, and connection to Spirit. Even after the loss of his physical capability, Stephen Hawking has made a significant impact on our understanding of our world. J.K. Rowling, who was a single mom on welfare when she created Harry Potter, today is estimated to be worth $1 billion. These examples show us that you can lose all your possessions, your loved ones, and most of your psychical capability—the world as you know it—and

One thing will remain forever constant: your relationship with your mind and what you choose to do with it.

Author's Bio: 

Joeel A. Rivera, M.Ed., Ph.D. (ABD) holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and is currently completing his dissertation for his Ph.D. in Psychology. Joeel’s extensive career as a relationship coach includes certifications in P.R.E.P, a 30-year research-based program for couples, Nurturing Father’s curriculum, and Parenting 21st Century. Joeel is now taking a select number of Life, Relationship, and Entrepreneurship Coaching clients. Contact Joeel at joeel@transformationservices.org