It’s said that the mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.
Today this rings true for many, including myself. In the past two months I have experienced getting a call about a high school friend committing suicide followed by a friend’s friend committing suicide a week later. Then several weeks later two notable public figures, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain (loved his show) doing the same.
These acts moved me. They moved me to seriously consider some reflection on what it means to manage your mind. We hear a lot about time management, stress management, project management, but never much about mind management. I began using this term because it’s simple, easy to understand, and looks at the mind as a thing to work on.
The mind is a tool for making meaning and order. It doesn’t do well with randomness, uncertainty, or fear. We like when there’s a pattern, details, certainty, because we can better understand what’s going on and position ourselves as better mind managers.
Think about it like this; you are a manager of a store and you have your team. Your best shot at being an efficient and effective manager is to understand your team, your goals, and the processes that help make it all run smoothly. This is analogous to your mind. You are the manager of this team. The team is your thoughts, feelings, and your environment. Your goals should pertain to what you care a lot about. The processes are the routines and frameworks you have in place to make it all work in an ordered and meaningful way.
In my experience with managing my own mind, and in helping others manage theirs, I have witnessed 2 major issues. Which I for one have lived and continue working on.
1. Lacking meaningful clear goals will lead your mind to process experiences as lacking meaning or significance. This results in randomness which our minds don't do well with.
2. Without appropriate frameworks and knowledge, you will lack the tools for the ever-important job of mind management.
I struggled with these two. It wasn’t until I made meaning out of my struggles that I was able to set goals to work on my well-being. This led me down the path of personal development which helps with issue number one. As for the second issue. I lacked the knowledge in understanding how I work, and what resources were available to help me better understand myself. But then I found it in emotional intelligence, personality types, and habit building. These three together are my framework for Enmocean, where I help others with mind management and emotional wellness training.
Here’s the big deal in mind management. You can start with paying more attention to your thoughts and feelings in a non-judgmental way. For example engaging in self talk like "I’m so stupid, I shouldn’t have made that error.” or “Hm, interesting, that was a silly mistake that I don’t typically make." Instead of judging try to simply acknowledge what you feel physically and mentally and take what lesson you can from it, and work on avoiding the issue in the future. You have the power to do it. You have the will to do it. In fact you may already be doing it! But for those out there who are struggling with managing their minds it’s necessary that you focus on exploring the implications of the two issues.
I recommend having a conversation with those you care about or a therapist about the two issues highlighted above especially if you are feeling down.
Mind management is the how we arrive at and sustain mental health. And that health is crucial to your overall well-being.
We can manage our minds to overcome challenges.
We can create meaning and order within.
We can use our minds to serve us.