In learning to think, the first step is having a sound mind. If our beliefs are warped, our world view twisted, our minds trapped in the hold of an illness; we will quickly lose our way.
I know this first hand. Trying to solve problems requires a clear view of reality. When we are caught in unhealthy places we are ‘looking at life in the fun house mirror’ (as a friend of mine once said).
The problem of course is this- how do we know?
Unfortunately, we can’t always know. However, there are certain steps we can take that will reveal these distortions, and help to heal them.
The tool of the mind
We must begin by cleaning our instrument. We must begin by learning how to be mentally healthy. We must start by understanding the state of our tool; and how to get it into the best repair possible.
- Step 1: Check your physical health. As logical as it is, people fail recognize that their brains are part of their bodies. If you have an unhealthy body, well you can imagine it will have an impact on your brain. Fitness, nutrition, stress reduction- all these things matter for your ability to think clearly. Starting with physical health is an easy foundation for mental health.
- Step 2: Challenge your thoughts and beliefs. We learn and keep some messed up ideas- ideas based on fear or past loss. One of the most important, and most difficult things to do is to challenge our own thoughts and beliefs. For example, when you think ‘why bother asking him out, he’ll just hurt me’, question this thought. It is based on reason? Is it based on fear? What are you losing in believing it? Consciously challenge your assumptions. You’ll be shocked how many of them don’t hold up under examination.
- Step 3: Actually heal your past. Often, we adopt lines of reasoning for no reason other than past experience. We experience something painful and never get over it. We let this wound dictate our decisions rather than rationality. For example, how many of us have allowed failed relationships to dictate our entire future love life? How many of us let one uncomfortable failure keep us from a dream? If you have trauma or fear from the past; get help healing it. It’s not worth sacrificing your future.
- Step 4: Know yourself. We are not magically going to become something we aren’t. Many of us hold this illusion that the perfect version of us, is one that is in fact nothing like us at all. It is another form of distorted reality if we hope to change ourselves into a completely different human being. We all struggle with flaws. It is our job to heal where we are hurt; strengthen where we are weak, prop up where we fall down, repair where we are broken. These steps will give you wisdom. They will free you from the loops and holes of suffering.
Recognize the work
This is simplistic. The work of this short blog post took me literally years to move through. This is exactly what my Re.Build. Program is designed to do. If this is something you need support on, consider Re.Build.
Having done the work of healing, you will learn to recognize the paths that lead away from health. You will come to recognize warped beliefs, and the voice of mental illness. You will learn tools to overcome perfectionism, obsession and fear.
Once your tool is in order, you can begin learning the skill of thought.