Mindstuff – how to manage life’s vexations

In Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, there is this crazy luggage with hundreds of legs that absolutely will barge through anything and anyone to be with its master. It’s a dogged attachment if I ever saw one that makes me think of sticky karma and we, like Rincewind the bumbling, ‘failed’ wizard, go on to make more of the same mistakes of living with little or no awareness of what our actions would result in.

Rincewind the 'failed' wizardRincewind is so totally us. So, so us. And I’m telling you, I have to make myself stay away from Pratchett’s books or I will never get anything done! Now, with that out of the way, let me try to explain why I think our minds are like this luggage, very fixated on doing its own thing and even if you tried, you can hardly get it to move away from that fixation. Here I am referring to 1) how a laser-beam focus would really serve us well and is truly the basis of manifesting and 2) the vexations of our mind, those mind stuff that Patanjali of the famous Yoga Sutras refer to as Vrittis. These are the mind stuff that simply won’t leave us be just like this luggage who can be counted on to show up. In fact, and in case you didn’t realise they are not due to a lack on our part, vriittis or mind stuff is the norm but we can learn to deal with them.


Vrittis, mind stuff and churnings of the mind

How not to take things personally

Actually, it’s thanks to this pin here that made me want to start a new category, Mind Stuff. In my line of work, we are always helping folks to deal with annoying stuff so why not share some of that here in this blog? So I’ll start with this pin, a fantastic example of vrittis which are the churnings of our mind, all that mind stuff that creates angst and all sorts of not peaceful stuff. So let’s take each point on this wonderful pin and consider why…

1) thinking the other person’s rudeness is about us is a reflection of our sense of self-worth, our ‘I’ has been hit but does it have to be about us everytime

2) when we don’t give the person the benefit of the doubt, it is also about our ‘I’

3) we are offended when someone is presumptous enough to criticise us – again our ‘I’ is hurt

4) it’s still about our ‘I’

5), 6) and 7) the ‘I’ in us is so upset that we go into self-criticism mode and beat ourselves up, all because someone said or didn’t say something that gelled with us! Someone didn’t give us the approval we were wanting.

Please don’t go thinking the ego or ‘I’ is a bad thing. No, it is a vital thing for us to have a healthy ego otherwise we won’t be able to survive, go after what we want, or cope so that we thrive. It’s when our ego has been weakened by life’s unfortunate circumstances, and sigh, by people who have authority over us when we were small, that’s the whole trouble.

Related reading: Vrittis – the churning of our mind.

The walking wounded and why we give away our power

Know that whenever we get vexed in such a situation, we are handing power over to the situation. This is what seeking approval does to us. We seek because we don’t have a strong sense of self. This really points to the truth of the situation. In reality, you are asking why you didn’t qualify for this person to be nice to you. And this sets of a chain reaction that next, we let our weakened ego rule over our emotions, where very soon our already beaten self-esteem joins in to protest, and all the other demons in our memory are also resurrected to keep the mind stuff churning all the way to bedtime and beyond.

More often than not, as our clients come in for counselling and as they begin to talk and we listen, inevitably it would surface a story about the ego taking a beating somewhere in the past. We would uncover a great deal of shame which remains unresolved or it could be guilt that she or he wasn’t as smart or as pretty as that sibling or second cousin.

Sounds familiar? You need to read this, too.

Related reading: 96% of your life is run by your subconscious.

Of course, this is basically the same story for so many of us, we who are the walking wounded.  Which is why in the pointers 1 to 7 above, it’s all down to the ego, the ‘I’ that got hurt once again. So, how do we cope? What do we do other than get all upset which does us no good as stress hormones like cortisol course through our veins and cost us sleep and indigestion? There are ways in fact and if you are on the yogic path, the source of some of the best techniques of yoga to deal with such situations can be found in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

Conditions of worth put us all in the same boat

carl rogersAt the end of the day, it’s about us as much as the other person. We are just like the other person. We all carry a load of mind stuff that came from our own personal experiences. Carl Rogers call these conditions of worth. So many folks in our lives, well-meaning that they are, have unwittingly subjected us to conditions of worth thus creating in us terrible holes that only approval can fill or does it have to be that way? That is indeed the 64-million-dollar question.

After a lifetime of such conditioning, do you think it’s that easy to become more forgiving, less easily annoyed, and not let our self-worth be called to question? No, it’s not that easy but we can certainly start working on it. Why not go one step further and pull out your journal. Begin the healing by asking this question: how is it that I react this way? And why is it a pattern that is repeating itself? Keep drilling in and you might find that one event that created this condition of worth. Surface it and then you can deal with it.

There’s actually so much more that I could say about the mind and how we can train it for us to cope better, not only to cope but to thrive and have a beautiful life. But I’m going to stop here for this post and save the rest for another day. Till then, take care, stay sane and may all be well, happy and peaceful.

Manage life's vexations by understanding your mind