The greatest ultimate act you can do-both for the benefit of yourself and for the benefit of those around you-is to free your mind. A significant percentage of the challenges that we face come about as a result of not opening our minds to the future, but rather leaving them bound by the past.
Have you ever found yourself engaged in a conversation with someone whose focus was not on the “here-and-now” but on something that happened 5, 10, or even 25 years ago? Tough, isn’t it? And, for the record, it’s equally tough when they are trying to deal with you and you are stuck somewhere in the past. It just doesn’t work.
Here are a few actions that will help you assess whether you’re operating in the present or if you’re stuck somewhere in the past.
1. Ask yourself: What assumptions am I making? It’s possible to be operating off of a set of assumptions that are no longer valid. This is particularly true if you have unresolved issues from the past. Think about the individual who previously was not a contributing member of the team. He or she may have encountered some tough “straight talk,” which served to get them back on track. But after doing well for a while, they may appear to have lapsed back into previous behaviors. Do you assume A) That they’re still a loser? B) That they never changed? C) That they were attempting to pull the wool over your eyes regarding the change? or D) They had a momentary setback, but will be back on track soon?
2. Ask yourself: What do I need to let go of in order to move forward? This question naturally follows the one already mentioned. You and I also have work to do in a previously difficult relationship: we have to let go of previous anger, disappointment, or resentment and allow others (and ourselves) to move to what we really want out of the future.
3. What statements can I make to myself to remind me that things are different? Sometimes a verbal prompt can help us to let go of those things that have been previously difficult. Statements like: “It’s a new day,” “OK, he/she is trying to make it different and I want to as well,” or simply, “Let it go!” can challenge you to move on.
4. Note specific behaviors or actions that demonstrate the change to you. Often our minds are programmed to look for previous (negative) actions or behaviors and it becomes easy to notice them, even when the other person may be behaving differently. Instead of looking for (and seeing) what you don’t want, look for what it is that you DO want. Give that serious study-just as you may have been prone to look for the things that you didn’t want.
Ultimately, freeing your mind requires you to training your mind to notice differently, to think differently, and to act differently. When you do, you will discover endless possibilities await you. As the old song says, “free your mind, and the rest will follow.” If you start freeing your mind today, you will amaze yourself at the possibilities tomorrow affords, as you are able to embrace tomorrow with all of your psychological, emotional, and physical energies.
Another great song out of the 60s: “people got to be free.” That includes me-and that includes you.
Dr. Ollie Malone