There is this awesome Buddhist quote from the gosho that has become my personal mantra: “Be the master of your mind, don’t let your mind be your master.” When you are on a roll in life and the good times are flowing, things seem effortless and seamless. But, if one thing goes awry in your master plan and you freak out and obsesses about it, suddenly the easy-breezy times can go away and more weird-bad-less-than-awesome stuff keeps showing up. Once you get fixated on the bad stuff, more finds its way in and solutions slip further from your grasp. If you have a bit of mind-mastery under your belt you can navigate obstacles without being overwhelmed by them. I’ve found in years of Buddhist practice AND practice in overcoming giant obstacles that there are a few habits that have helped in the “mind-mastering” game…
First of all, no matter how big and bad something is, there is a solution if you believe there is one! I was once told that I had to take 25 super-toxic pills a day for the rest of my life or have insane surgery (yep, not gonna happen); I decided there was a better way and found that way. It wasn’t instant- it took me months to achieve- but I was totally dead-set on finding a solution and I did. Every situation is different, but mindset has been absolutely proven to influence outcomes in health, sports performance and just about every area of life. There is still always a solution and a way to proceed if you start by deciding there is a solution.
Try not to share your problems with everyone you know. This has always come back to haunt me. If you want to make something very large and distorted, start telling people about it everywhere you go. Share big stuff with people who can give you great guidance, and ask for guidance. There’s nothing more basket-case-like than a person who approaches you, loads up your hands with problems and then says “I am screwed! Nothing can be done!” Ask for help and seek solutions and more of both will come.
Cancel out your negative, spinning thoughts when they come up. My dear friend who is insanely wise and successful told me to say, out loud, “Cancel-Cancel” when I started thinking negative thoughts that I became aware of, and that has been life-saving. When you start taking the power back in your life, you will still have these creeping thoughts. When you catch them, send them away. In Buddhism your karma is made up of your thoughts, words and actions. We all have more obvious control over what we say and do… but what we think takes a little diligence to get in line with our best interests!
Keep a journal and acknowledge yourself! When you handle something well, feel happy, have a great day or even have insight… write that down! Five years from now you will be stunned at how far you have come in your life, and we all tend to gloss over the good when we feel like the world is against us…so journal!
See things clearly. I can’t tell you how much (sooooo much!) creative visualization techniques can set your mind on a different, more positive track, but they can and will if you try them! Literally just relaxing for a few minutes right now and seeing something you love in your mind for five minutes can change your day. Yep, you can get fancier and deeper with this, but for now, those five minutes can make the day run better!
Make a list…or many lists! If you are getting really spun out, write lists of everything you need to fix. Bullet points work fine. Keep writing until you can look at the paper and say “when this is done I will be relieved.” Now, find a few priorities and a few baby steps to take toward those priorities. Thats your to-do list. When you get one baby step done, take another one. Soon, you will be taking giant leaps forward.
Finally, don’t let clutter pile up anywhere in your life. Clutter is a visual manifestation of the state of your mind. So, if you clear clutter in your home, conversely, you aid in the process of cleaning up your own confusion.
Of course there are a zillion more techniques, but the basics are the most sensible starting point when you are overcoming obstacles and digging yourself out of a place you’d rather not sit in, so get going! And if you have others that work for you, please share!!! xoxo Dana