Years ago I wrote a book called, “Making Your Mind a Friend.” It was an amateurish project at best, but at the time I penned it, it helped save me from a world of suffering; suffering mostly self-imposed by wrong thought with a heavy, heavy dose of religious bondage. Somehow, in some imperceptible way, I had morphed (or had been morphed) into everything I hated in life. I became sickly religious and when you get religious enough, everything you do or say or feel will be wrong. It’s wrong because you have set up for yourself an impossible standard. And, before you know it, your worst, most pervasive enemy will be your very own mind. Thus, making your mind a friend isn’t about splitting yourself into two separate entities and having positive dialogue with each part. It’s about learning to extend kindness and forgiveness and friendliness to your own self in the same way you might extend it to your friend.
I remember years ago when my brother had agreed to watch our boys. When we picked them up he explained incredulously, that one of them was throwing rocks in the road and when he told him to stop, he threw another one! He couldn’t understand how that could happen. Of course, he didn’t have his own children yet. He now knows that disobedience happens but it is the parent’s job to correct it. So here’s a thought. Disobedience happens with adults also. But, just like when you correct a child, no matter how satisfying the chastisement feels, all a parent is really after is an acknowledgement from the child that they did something wrong. There’s rarely much to say after the apology occurs.
How many of you have spent years and years chastising yourself for some event that has long since expired? It’s gone from life and is in the books. It only shows up again when you re-read the book. Stop re-reading the book! The things you do wrong and have done wrong were committed to the history book just as quickly as they happened. They are no longer a part of your life unless you allow them to be. The egregious errors, the scarring hurts, the bruising slights all have vanished from the present reality. You make your mind a friend by not subjecting your friend to the same old, tired story. Like your friend who might tell you it’s time to get over it, it’s time to get over it. You don’t magically transform bad behaviors by punishing yourself, you know that! You transform yourself the same way your child transforms, by receiving your forgiveness. And don’t you think for a second that God is bringing it up. God forgave you the FIRST time you were sorry. You have to “accept” His forgiveness also. Beyond that it’s all a bunch of egotism and you can take that to the bank!
Once I heard a father say how dumb his kid was and that he didn’t think his elevator went all the way to the top. How sad is that? To think that a father would say that about his own flesh and blood, astounded me. All I could think was, he’s your own kid! What the eff is the matter with you? Your child will be about as smart and talented and good as you can teach him he can be. You, horrible father, are outrageously defining his limit. Now as bad as I guess that made you feel, how about the things you say to yourself? Would you so easily tell your good friend that he was an idiot? Would you be so quick to focus on and point out his every weakness and fault? Oh sure you would see both, but out of love you wouldn’t bring them up, would you? Do you know anyone on earth that gets better at something after repeatedly being told he sucks at it? Weakness is never overcome by focusing on the weakness. You win at life by focusing on your strengths; what you can do the best! Strength is built from strength! All you accomplish by acquiescing to an endless stream of negative chatter about yourself is to weaken and severely limit your true capabilities. And, the worst part? You are saying those things to yourself! You aren’t just being honest! You are treating yourself like an enemy and not a friend. If you don’t love you, who does? Well, God does and He disagrees with your estimation of yourself. Again, beyond that, it’s all just a bunch of egotism…and your insistence on self harm.
Making your mind a friend is about choosing what you will and will not think about and choosing what you will and will not say to yourself. Your mind is your mind and you may use it in whatever fashion you see fit. You may say, “I can’t stop thinking about it!” But, oh yes you can! Like a lifelong smoker, the longer you’ve been engaged in the habit, the harder it is going to be to stop. The new non-smoker has to say ‘no’ to himself one hundred times a day at first, but the next day may only require seventy-five. Eventually the thought comes up ever so rarely. The same with negative talk and condemnation, once you break the habit, it happens less and less. And like the smoker that quit, you brighten your prospects for a long, happy, successful life.
At the end of the day, you my dear friend, are the only you, you’ve got! And, like your heart would seek in earnest to console your sad, defeated child, you must learn to be good to yourself. You aren’t serving God by behaving that way, no matter what some preacher may have told you, you are serving your enemy by your refusal to believe what God has already said. You aren’t the evil one, but you just may have been listening to him. Be kind with yourself. Be forgiving with yourself. Learn to accept your imperfections and just be. It’s okay. God knows all about you and loves you anyway!
Just some good thoughts…