The Thinker

Posted Posted in Personality Patterns

A friend recently asked me to write about people who think too much. This is because she thinks too much. I said that’s funny timing, because “The Thinker” is already on the list. Two other friends had recently described themselves as “thinkers,” as in they know that they think too much as well. I said you know what? So do I! This is another pattern that many people fall into, especially in this fast-paced digital age. I’ve written about The Control Freak and The Perfectionist before. Just like those, The Thinker is nothing more than a personality pattern or set of patterns. As I said in a recent blog post on personality patterns, no matter how deeply ingrained they are or seem to be, they are not who you are. That is a fact. So we can accept them and look at them honestly, but it doesn’t have to be so heavy and personal. Look at it like you’re looking at a character in a movie, book, or play. I’m totally serious. I know that might sound weird, but I’m pretty sure it’s more accurate. And it makes it much easier to own the pattern and then bust yourself in the moment and let it go.

The Thinker is all about living in your head. And what’s wrong with that? Your head is not reality. So it’s just a minor problem… And when we’re constantly thinking, we’re not feeling. And when we’re not feeling (and thus releasing), all of the stresses and emotions from the day just build up until you’re full of baggage and feel terrible. And when you feel bad, what does your mind do? Think about what a problem it is that you feel bad. And what does that do? It makes you feel worse. And then the mind comments on that, and so forth and so on. It’s basically a feedback loop that spirals out of control. And you have the option of nipping it in the bud as soon as it starts. All it takes is learning what’s really going on and then practicing.

Another thing about too much thinking is that it’s usually time-based, meaning that you’re spending most of your time in the past or in the future. There is no past or future, though, so do we really want to spend our time there?? Obviously, the future isn’t here yet, and it’s always “not here yet.” The past is trickier for most people, but if you look closely, you’ll see that it’s not real, either. There’s a full blog post on the past. The main thing is that the past lives now in the feelings you’re carrying and your thoughts about what happened, including memories (which get hazier and hazier with time) and beliefs (most of which are not true, which is great news). And of course there are physical signs of the past, but these live now. The scar on my leg from that accident last summer is on my leg now. There’s still no past, though.

So what’s the big deal with living in our heads, living in the past and future, constantly thinking? It makes most people feel terrible! Some say that we tend to be depressed about the past and anxious about the future. Chill out. Take a breath. Deal with the past in terms of what you can do about it. Own your mistakes and do your best to learn from them. Make amends if necessary. Make a phone call or send an email. And if something happened in the past that affects your life now, even in a major way, then you have to live with it and deal with it… now. That handles the past.

Do the same with the future. What can you actually do about whatever you’re worrying about? Then do it. Can you control what you’re worrying about? If not, then let it go. Do what you can do and release the rest. Worrying a bunch generally doesn’t help. Don’t interpret this as saying you should be lazy or passive. Far from it, actually. You can be very, very active, but without that stressed-out attitude. It’s all about the ‘tude.

So The Thinker’s job is to get out of his or her head and into reality, which is what’s happening now. This ties in closely with the voice in the head. When you catch yourself lost in useless thought, just gently stop. Let the thoughts go and just like that, there’s silence in your head. Maybe listen to the sounds around you. It really is that simple – you just got out of your head. The thoughts will come back, but who cares? Now you know what to do – just let them go once again. It can get annoying, but don’t waste your time resisting the thoughts. I’ve done this plenty, and it just feeds them. The good news is that as you practice this stopping and letting go, the volume slowly gets turned down. After a while, this excessive thinking simply won’t be such a big deal. You’ll know that you are the one who gives the thoughts their power. Without this power, they’re just thoughts. No big deal.

Well, good luck getting out of your head! Just keep taking those little breaks when you catch yourself living up there, and you just got out, just like that. That’s how it works, and it only takes an instant. The over-thinking comes back, so you just stop again. As we like to say here a lot, wash, rinse, repeat. After a while, you’ll see that you’re headed in the right direction. And as always, let me know if I can help!

The Perfectionist

Posted Posted in My Stories, Personality Patterns

Alright, folks, it’s time to write about another pattern that many humans fall into, The Perfectionist. This one is totally me, by the way, so I speak from experience. I’ve written about the Control Freak before, so please recall that the main point of these patterns is that they are not really you! I know that it seems otherwise for many people, but it really is just a pattern. It’s just that it’s been practiced for so long that it seems totally etched in stone. No pattern is etched in stone, though.

The perfectionist pattern can be particularly crippling because we can get easily stuck. If we think something has to be done perfectly, then we often don’t do anything at all. Why start something that’s not perfect? The truth, though, is that “perfect” as most people think of it doesn’t even exist. It’s just a concept. The only way that perfect exists is if we define it so that everything is perfect, just as it is right now at this very moment. Most people don’t mean anything close to this when they think of “perfect.”

So what should the perfectionist do when s/he is stuck? Start! Just do something. Get moving. See how bad a job you can do. After all, you can make it better later, and perfectionists are good at that. I have to bust myself on this all the time. Challenges for me include all this techno stuff, like figuring out the details of a blog, search engine optimization, Facebook, and other things that I’m not all that interested in. I’m interested in figuring out individual human peace and then helping others to learn it. That’s it! But when you want to earn a living doing that, there are many other aspects. Marketing is one of them – I’m not naturally very good at that, at least not now. So it’s easy for me to be stuck wondering what to do next. When that’s happening, I make myself do at least one thing. Like writing a blog post – that gets things moving. After that, there might be some momentum to do something else.

The perfectionist can show up in the form of being overly critical of self and others, too. This is when we want to take a breath before we speak and choose our words. Do I really want to say that? Should I dial it down a bit at least? What am I really trying to accomplish by saying this? If it’s just the perfectionist rearing its ugly head, then bust it! And laugh, thankful that you’re starting to wake up and challenge these old patterns. They’re just patterns, after all. And that’s good news. And like most of what we talk about here at A Clean Mind, it just takes practice. Just be consistent and persistent, and don’t take it too seriously. And as always, let me know if I can help.

UPDATE: After I posted this, my mom emailed me and said that I definitely came in this way. She said that I was like this literally as a baby still in the crib. My stuffed animals had to be all there and arranged the right way or it was hell to pay. I apologized… She said no worries, because clearly I was too young to have a choice. It was hard-wired. She said it was pretty funny, actually. This is why these patterns aren’t really that personal – we come in with many of them. There’s no choice in that, so it makes no sense to beat yourself up about it. Now, though, it’s up to us to bust ourselves still practicing these patterns and dial it back some. We end up being much more balanced. I work on this to this day. Interesting stuff…

The Tiny, Mad Idea

Posted Posted in Essential Topics

We’re going to get pretty Jedi today. It’s very subtle, though. Here we go… I’d like to introduce the phrase “tiny, mad idea.” This refers to that first seemingly true thought that enters our mind and begins to hijack our peace. Everyday examples include, “This suck,” “I failed,” “It’s her fault,” “Just my luck,” etc. Since it’s just one little thought, and one that is probably pretty familiar, we don’t even notice it. Or better yet, we don’t notice the power of it. It has power because it snowballs until we’re in a pretty bad mood. It’s all about the snowball! I’d like to help train you to notice that one tiny, mad idea before it snowballs and hijacks your peace. When you learn to notice it, you can drop it like the bad habit that it is. And you can laugh at the fact that it ever had any power over you in the first place. It takes practice and persistence, but you’re probably going to live a while longer anyway, so why not?

We’ve been talking about just this kind of mental hygiene or mental discipline all along here at A Clean Mind; this is just a new term to describe exactly what to be on the lookout for. The phrase “tiny, mad idea” originally comes from A Course In Miracles, which is my bible. I recently mentioned the awesome book Spirit Junkie by Gabby Bernstein. She’s a student (and teacher) of the Course, just like I am. Her description of the tiny, mad idea has really helped me to simplify it, and that’s what I’m writing about here.

By the way, as I’ve said before, that book is pretty sweet – it could help speed things up for lots of folks today. So check it out and see if it feels right for you. If not, no big deal. It’s all about becoming one with spirit and guidance. You’re hardwired for this, right now at this very second. This is true! And it’s meant to be experienced and not just believed. Spirit will show you what’s up if you sincerely ask. This often comes in the form of synchronicities that act as little signs that you’re on the right path. You have to pay attention, though. Back to the story…

So the tiny, mad idea is simply any thought that comes from fear, specialness, separation, or ego (which just means the part of you that thinks it’s really separate from everything else). After all, they’re basically the same. And as we’ll talk about more and more, they’re not even real (and trust me – I realize that they seem pretty darn real). These are the thoughts that are designed to take you out of peace. When you notice them and don’t do anything about them, the process of feeling bad is underway. The voice in the head will keep talking until you feel awful. Instead, you can stop after that first thought and examine it. Is it true? Do you know it’s 100% true? Probably not… So let it go. Drop it. And it’s gone, just like that. Now you’re out of your head and you have some peace. Will these thoughts come back? Of course! That’s their job. But now you know what to do – just let go of them as they come.

When you’ve done this analysis enough and you’ve seen firsthand that these thoughts based on fear and specialness are not true, then you can skip the analysis and the questions of truth. You’ve already been there and done that, and you know these thoughts intimately by now. You know how they feel. So when you notice them now, you can just drop them in an instant and with a laugh. They don’t have power over you anymore. They can’t snowball anymore.

Gabby talks about witnessing them, and that term really works for me. It takes the personal sting totally out of it. Gone! I see right away that each of these thoughts comes from a part of me that thinks it’s really separate from everything else. The mystics have always said we’re not truly separate, and then the badass physicists made the same discovery in the early 1900’s (quantum physics). So if a thought comes from separation, then I know right away that it’s not even real! So I drop it like a hot potato. After a while, you’ll be amazed that these thoughts were ever allowed to snowball in the first place. As I said above, though, it does take practice and persistence. But again, you’re probably going to live a while longer anyway, so what do you have to lose? There’s certainly lots of peace to gain.

I’ve been amazed lately as I’ve been witnessing these thoughts and just letting them go. It’s just so easy. I’ve also been awed at the recognition that each of these little thoughts is what starts the “no peace” snowball that grows and grows. When it grows enough, you’re in a funk. I don’t like that term, by the way, because I’m a musician and I love funky music. Funk is a great thing! So let’s just say that when it grows enough, you feel really bad. When you find yourself feeling this way, that’s your signal to stop and take a look for the last time you felt fine. What happened in between? Very simple – one tiny, mad idea slipped by your “mental goalie” and it was on. Don’t get down on yourself for letting it slip by – no beating yourself up! Just learn from it and go forward trying to be more vigilant. If you have this attitude, then it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be on your game. So be on the lookout for the tiny, mad idea and don’t give it the respect that it’s gotten in the past. After all, it really doesn’t deserve it. Witness it and let it go just like that. And feel free to laugh or breathe a sigh of relief because you don’t have to be in the snowball business anymore.

Crucifying Yourself Is Optional

Posted Posted in Other Cool Topics

Okay folks – this is some cool stuff we’re about to talk about. It’s subtle, though, but like many of the subtle things we talk about, it’s incredibly powerful and life-changing. You just have to actually do it. And then do it some more. And then do it some more until it’s the rule and not the exception. Here we go…

Most of us do things we don’t like – this is obvious. We have patterns and behaviors and thinking that we don’t like about ourselves. I talked about this in a recent blog post that’s about how to identify some of the subtle things we don’t like (What Pushes Your Buttons?). You can look at your own life and pick whatever you want as an example. It could be something that’s more in the “outer world,” like you smoke cigarettes and want to stop. Or it could be something more internal, like you don’t treat a loved one very well. And of course anything internal spills out into the outer world. In the case of not treating that loved one as well as you could, maybe this leads to arguments or something like that.

The point is that we all have things we don’t like about ourselves. In the future, I’ll be hammering home what I believe to be a fact – that this self is not even you! And that’s good news when you really think about it… In the meantime, let’s just be practical. Even if what you see in the mirror everyday really is you (as opposed to being an eternal, immortal, already perfect, changeless spiritual being – I’m pretty sure that’s who we really are – more on this later), then you can stop beating yourself up about these things you already don’t like about yourself.

If I’ve acted in a way I don’t like, and then I beat myself up about it, I’ve just doubled the pain. Sweet! And I did that to myself… That second layer is self-inflicted, so this is definitely not a good plan. This passes for normal in today’s world, though, so don’t worry about it – you’ve learned it from when you were too young to have any say in the matter. The first step is to thoroughly accept it. Accept your patterns or issues or whatever you don’t like. Admit that that’s how you’ve been rolling. Don’t make an extra problem out of it. Making a problem out of it is called resistance, and resistance helps keep it stuck, keep it intact.

I know this might sound vague, and I don’t have the best example right now – I have no doubt they will pop up later on in the blog, though – some probably already have, in fact. You might have noticed that I kind of fly by the seat of my pants with these writings – I think it flows much better that way. I’d say just look at your patterns that you don’t like and own them. Totally own them. And stop crucifying yourself. Until you do this, you’re in no position to do anything about them. And you might even find that you’re not as bad or as guilty as you thought you were. And if you still think you are, then own it so you can do something about it! There are plenty of resources and people out there to help. I happen to know one of them… Do it!

The Voice In The Head

Posted Posted in Essential Topics

Everybody has one. It’s annoying and it’s persistent. It likes to talk. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the voice in the head! Some are chattier than others, some are louder than others, and some are angrier than others. Some sound saner than others. Honestly, though, most people think they’d be locked up if other people heard their voice in the head. I know because people tell me. It’s like a confession. They get quiet and look around, even though we’re in a small closed office with a fan. I start laughing. So maybe it makes you feel better to realize you’re not alone.

The main thing to know regarding the voice in the head is that it’s not you. The other main thing is that you don’t really have to believe it. It’s usually just having a conversation with itself about some scenario that’s been played out a thousand times already. Whenever you notice it, just stop. Then there is silence. Then you note what you’re reacting to or thinking about, and you ask yourself if you need to do any conscious, active thinking about it. If so, do it. If not, go about your day in peace. And when you notice the voice in the head return, as it will, just stop again. Let it go. Silence. Is there anything you need to do any real thinking about? If so, do it. If not, go about your day in peace.

There’s no need to get into what it is or where it comes from. Just know that it’s this annoying thing that gradually loses its power over you the more you practice stopping. Mine still talks all the time, but it doesn’t carry much weight anymore. It’s been so long, in fact, since it did carry weight that I’d forgotten about that until maybe a couple months ago. Somebody was talking about their voice in the head being loud and angry. I was probably thinking something like, “Man, that would suck.” Then I remembered that mine used to be the same way! Now it’s like a jack-in-the-box. Children are afraid of it, but adults laugh at it. No big deal.

A very practical tip is to not get frustrated whenever you notice it. Just stop. It really is that simple. When I started this practice – becoming aware of the voice in the head and then stopping – I would get frustrated that it kept coming back. I’d stop, but with a tinge of annoyance and even embarrassment that this insane conversation was going on. I was fighting it. After a while I realized there’s no point in feeling annoyed or embarrassed. Just stop that, too! Picturing a stop sign can help for the visual folks out there – whatever works for you. Either way, you have silence in an instant when you stop. You might even laugh sometime when you do this.

So let’s wake up to the fact that the voice in the head is really no big deal. Just stop. If you need to really think about something, then do it. But real thinking and the voice in the head are two very different things.

Thoughts 101

Posted Posted in Essential Topics

Here’s the deal with any thought or belief (they are the same thing, pretty much)… If it’s true, keep it. If it’s not, pitch it. It’s that simple. This comes from the incredibly powerful and yet simple work of Byron Katie. Check her out. I’ll be giving a very brief and spotty overview of what she calls The Work, but I am in no way trying to claim it as my own or even go through it with any thoroughness. You can refer to her website, which is full of incredible material. She even has a children’s book that is amazing.

When I ask if a thought is true, I don’t mean that you think it’s true. I don’t mean that it’s 99.999% true. I mean that it’s totally, absolutely 100% true and you know that it’s 100% true. If it’s causing you any lack of peace and you can’t know this, then pitch it!

When we take a close look at the things that we believe, it can be pretty shocking. Most of it is trash, to be honest. And other thoughts might seem innocent enough, but they are really causing us pain when we take a look. If you’d be more peaceful without a certain thought and you can’t know that it’s true, then pitch it! After that, only the bad feeling that the thought caused will remain, and you just feel it and let it go. It will eventually go away (see Feelings 101).

So if you don’t feel good, you might want to search your mind for what you are believing. Ask your self if it is true. Ask yourself if you can really know that it’s true. Ask yourself how you feel with this thought. Ask yourself how you would feel without this thought. At this point, you’ll know whether it’s worth keeping or not. We have high standards here at A Clean Mind – only true thoughts get to live in our heads. When in doubt, let it go. If it really is true, it won’t go anywhere anyway.

The other aspect to thoughts is that the constant voice in the head that has a conversation with itself all day long is not real thinking. Just let it go when you notice it. This is HUGE. So huge, in fact, that there’s an entire blog post written about it here. Definitely read this – it’ll help you to be at peace.