“Mind Makes a Great Servant And an Awful Master”
Challenges are inevitable part and parcel of daily life and often an agent of transformation and growth. What makes challenges unnecessarily more complicated is the automatic default judgments that the mind puts on each situation and experience. To simplify situations the mind habitually judges every occasion, person or event as “good” or “bad”, “liked” or “dis-liked”. It then wants to run away from the “bad” and “dis-liked” and chase the “good” or “liked”. This automatic default habit creates more problems and burdens the nervous system. How?
Because with it comes the secondary doubtful thoughts: What if I can’t escape the so called “bad”? or What if I can’t have the “good” stuff? Which leads to worry and anxiousness. Next, the mind adds a self-criticism. Here are two specific examples:
1. REAL PHYSICAL PAIN OR MIND MANUFACTURED PAIN?
Let’s say I have a backache and the mind immediately judges it as “bad” and concludes “I don’t like this”. Now, I have two problems, the original back pain, plus the second emotional “disliking” of that pain and the worrying that I may not be able to get rid of it. While the first physical pain is a fact, the second one is born out of default automatic habituated “good” or “bad”, “like” or “dislike” judgment – an added unnecessary pain – a mind manufactured pain. Do I need to make the backache “bad” in order to attend to it? Does “dis-liking” it help bearing it easier? Obviously not. Yet that is just what the habituated automatic mind does. It can not see its own un-helpfulness!
This is how the mind reacts when automatically judges an emotion “bad” or “dis-liked”.
I don’t like this feeling (i.e., anxiety, sadness, confusion … )
I wish I did not feel this way
I shouldn’t feel this way
Something is wrong with me
I am no-good
Do you see how in this example default thinking mind:
1. takes a passing phenomenon an emotion a messenger and fixates on it by making it wrong “I don’t like this …”.
2. adds a self-criticism “I am not good” which creates a second problem (lower self-esteem, demotivation, depressed mood …) that did not exist before.
Now just imagine if we go through life and at every corner our over-active default mind is spewing judgments and “dis-liking” people, events, experiences … and “self-criticising” itself. How would that make professional or personal life easier? How does that facilitate interpersonal relationships? How does that help with clarity of mind to be an effective problem solver and a decision maker? How does that conserve energy? It does not! Yet most of us often fail to see this.
This is how the mind reacts when it judges an emotion as “good” or “liked”:
I like this feeling
I wish I always have this
I should not loose this feeling
Something is wrong with me if I loose it ( since our self-talk is already sowing the seeds of worry and since no experience is permanent and will pass away) the mind erroneously concludes:
I am no-good, I can’t keep good things/feelings last
While the critical/analytical thinking and judging-mind are absolutely necessary and without it daily life would be inconceivable – for example, to write this post I needed to judge the appropriateness of each word before using it – the paradox is when judgments become unhelpful and get in the way? In other words, rather than simplify life, un-necessarily complicate it.
– In your experience, how does habitual “like or dislike” make relating to events, people and emotions more difficult?
– Can you specifically identify an example?
– Besides emotions and physical pain, where else habituated critical/analytical/judging thinking may un-necessarily complicate matters?
– Is critical/analytical/judging mind your servant or your master?