Sometimes it feels like we live in a world characterized by fear. People are fearful about their health, the economy, their jobs, the future, corruption, crime and their feelings of powerlessness. The cost of this fear is toxic thoughts, toxic stress, anxiety and depression, which in turn increase our vulnerability to disease. The end result of this fear, anxiety and illness cycle, if we don’t manage it with our minds, is a society dependent on external factors such as painkillers, medications, wellness fads and skyrocketing health costs to fix us.
But what if there was another way? Most people understand the need to live a healthy lifestyle, even if they don’t fully understand the impact of their lifestyle choices on disease processes. What many people don’t recognize is the need for proper mind-management and how it both supports and sustains a healthy lifestyle.
Mind-management is a skill that needs to be learned; used all day long, every day; and constantly upgraded as we grow from childhood into adulthood. For every new experience we need a new set of mind-management tools.
We’re only beginning to understand mind and consciousness, which is exciting. If we’ve come this far without good mind-management skills, imagine where we can go when we’ve learned how to control our thinking. You are your mind, you are always using your mind and your mind is always with you. You can go three weeks without food, three days without water and three minutes without air, but you cannot go three seconds without thinking. So, understanding how the mind works and what mind-management is should be your top priority. Mind-managing your thoughts is a skill that needs to be learned and made into a habit, or, to be more scientifically accurate, automatized, much like you learn how to swim or ride a bicycle.
Mind-management is key to the kind of mental peace that sustains us through tough times and happy times. It is the place where you can find your own measure of success, instead of comparing yourself to the unrealistic “industry standards” often presented by popular wellness industry and faith movements.
To what and whom are you comparing yourself? Who defines success and says what it looks like for you? You do. No one else has the right to define your purpose. We often set ourselves up for failure when we try to copy someone else’s healing journey or when we are told the healing process is linear and standard. That’s one reason the wellness industry can be so dangerous: it asserts that healing and health come only when certain rules (created by someone else) are followed.
Holding ourselves to a competitive mentality fostered by influencers on social media or by someone offering the elixir of a wellness trend puts impossible demands on our psyche and can be destructive, damaging not only how we see our body image but also how we judge our own worth. Unless we define our wellness within the narrative of accepting that life will always have some mystery, we will drive ourselves crazy with guilt and shame every time our body breaks down or our mind plays up. We’ll constantly feel the need to measure up. Instead, we need to validate what we are going through with self-compassion by managing our minds through the process of guilt, shame and sickness, letting these become springboards and not deadweights.
There’s no secret quick fix or uniform formula to healing and happiness. Let’s face it: life is messy. A better and healthier mindset to have when reading about health and wellness trends is to ask yourself, Why is this one idea resonating with me? or Why am I reading about this and why do I want to know more? What underlying issue am I really trying to address? Use your answers to gather data and awareness.
I’m not saying that doing one or more popular “healthy” things isn’t good for you. I love yoga and organic food, for example. However, using them as a magic formula is guaranteed to disappoint. Feeling guilty because you failed to think positively enough, didn’t have “enough” faith, or didn’t reach some “ideal” is damaging to your mental psyche and physical body, and the shame and guilt that come with this mindset have a nasty way of spiraling out of control unless they’re mind-managed.
This type of thinking can also lead you to internalize failure, as though there’s something inherently wrong with you. You may think something like I have followed the advice or the path or the way; why am I not “fixed?” But what does “fixed” even mean? Is it some distorted perception of immediate, 100 percent healing? Is it looking a certain way? Or having a certain amount of money? Or perhaps feeling happy all the time? What standard are you using to measure yourself by?
One thing is certain: if you don’t shape your life, it will be shaped for you. And to shape your life, you need to know how to shape your mind — you need mind-management.