Your mind and the external world are two separate things
In my work as a coach and therapist, I've realised that one of the craziest things that cause so much trouble in people’s lives is the lack of understanding the difference between these two things: the difference between our mind and the external world.
Let's get one thing straight:
Our mind and the external world are two separate things.
But many believe that they are the same thing.
So they try to control the world in order to feel better.
When we don't understand the difference between our mind and the external world, we continually exhaust ourselves trying to manipulate what's going on outside of us in order to feel better.
We try to get the right job, find the right partner, the status, the money. We believe that once we get the right circumstances, the best education, the right house or the right boss and colleagues, then we will be happy. We even believe that once we find our purpose, we will be happy.
The message that's been fed to us pretty much goes like "have this and you'll be happy, eat this and you'll be happy, buy this and you'll be happy, smoke, read, watch, consume, learn this and you'll be happy".
But what if you keep on eating, smoking or consuming information all day long? What happens if you already have everything you always wanted - and yet feel miserable?
Many of my Mayfair based clients don't get it why they feel terrible, even if they've done everything "right” in their life, followed the rules and did exactly what their families and society expected them to do. Their materialistic life is very good.
They can't understand it. But neither can the people around them. "How can you be unhappy, you have everything, your life is so perfect!"
They feel shame for not feeling good, even if they have everything. Even if they have good lives.
because it’s not the external world that makes us feel good or bad.
Nothing outside of us controls how we feel.
Many of you might argue with this. You might say “But when I got my new job I did feel better!”
Now, I'm going to show you why that's not true.
I will also tell you why that's excellent news.
Let me repeat: Your mind and the external world aren’t connected in any way but yet many of us believe that these two things are the same thing. They believe that the external world and the people in it are causing how they feel. They believe that by altering the external world and the people around them they will feel better.
In many cases you can't alter the external world or the people in it in order to feel better. It's an impossible task that only leaves us feeling defeated and miserable. And yet so many of us are trying to do that day in day out, feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and powerless.
Our mind is the cause our own misery. Not the world nor the other people living in it.
So let me clarify few things. This will change everything when you really get it.
Facts don't cause feelings.
What is a fact?
Everything outside of your mind is a fact:
- that table
- that person
- the weather
- those words on the email
- that situation
- that event
Facts are the things that absolutely everyone can agree on what they are if shown in the court of law as evidence. They are things that we can see, hear, touch or concepts like country, education system, religion etc.
Facts are always neutral.
Thoughts cause how you feel.
What is a thought?
Everything else is your thought about the fact: your interpretation, the meaning, the story, the judgement:
- that beautiful table
- that horrible person
- that ugly weather
- those mean words on the email
- that stressful situation.
- that lovely event
Meanings, stories, interpretations, or judgements of the facts are thoughts.
Facts are always real, but your thoughts about the facts aren't.
Even if it feels like so. Why?
Because your mind and the external world are two separate things.
Because thoughts only live inside the mind. You can't actually see them. Metaphorically speaking thoughts are like invisible air. Blowing inside of you. Poisonous air making you feel stressed, calm air making you feel peaceful. You got the picture.
This "air" however will determine how we'll feel. Yup, that invisible air living inside our head. That stuff that we can't even see. THAT is what causes our feelings and emotions.
Nothing outside of you. Not the facts.
The good news is that you are always in control of how you'll feel.
You control what kind of air blows inside of you. Regardless what happens outside of you. Why? Because nothing outside of you causes how you feel. Not even that horrible boss. Your thoughts about him/her do. The air inside of you makes you feel something.Not the fact.
This is how it works:
The fact (always neutral) is being presented to you -> Your Thoughts about the fact causes -> How you'll feel.
Your thoughts always always always cause your feelings.
Like that new job of yours, it wasn’t the job that made you feel better. It was your thoughts about that job that made you feel better.
There are mainly three types of thoughts running in your head most of the time: positive, negative and neutral.
Positive thoughts make us feel good, Negative thoughts make us feel bad. Neutral thoughts don't make us feel much. Just feeling neutral. No emotion there. Just what is.
Neutral thoughts are easier to think than negative or positive thoughts. Hating, judging, being resentful and afraid of someone drains us from our energy. Big time.
Positive thoughts that we don't believe in, also require a lot of energy. "Thinking positively" can cause more trouble in your life if you don't understand the process behind it or if you are trying to force closing your eyes from something that really hurts inside.
Neutral thoughts don't require much energy.
This means that we can use that energy for something we actually want to use it on.
So if you have been feeling bad about something for a significantly long time, it won't be easy to suddenly start thinking about it in a positive way. This requires too much energy. Learning to think neutral thoughts about the things we really feel negative towards is the first step so that you can feel calmer, be able to focus and direct the much-needed energy for more important things for now.
Learning how to alter your thinking towards positive, inspiring and empowering thoughts is on its own a completely different chapter.
The way I work with depressed, anxious and stressed clients is not to tell them to think happy clappy thoughts straight away. Learning to be with ok with what is, feeling neutral and calm is our main goal at the beginning of our work. And only from there, with a solid base, they are able to move towards the more positive, exciting and serene way of living.
So let's recap:
- Anything outside of you doesn’t cause your feelings, they are just facts.
- Facts are always neutral, they don’t make you feel either good or bad.
- Your thoughts will determine how you’ll feel, not the object, person or the event itself.
- Only your thoughts are able to make you feel neutral, good or bad about anything or anyone.
And here ’s the good news:
- You are able to create your thoughts.
- You are 100% in charge of what's goes on in your mind.
- You are able to alter how you feel - with your thoughts.
Understanding that our mind and the external world are two separate things, is the first step.
Understanding that what we think about the world is not what world actually is, is the second step.
When you learn to manage your mind you are able to alter the ways you feel about difficult situations and people in your daily life, without needing them to change or you to run away from them.
If there are areas in your life that you feel really difficult to deal with and don't know how to help yourself to alter your emotions and handle difficult situations better I invite you to apply for a free consultation here.
I'll be more than happy to help you to tackle any difficult thought patterns that may be keeping you stuck in a negative cycle and help you to move forward.
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