Many people in the mental health profession (and others, too) complain about “burnout” — the feeling of exhaustion, frustration and hopelessness in the face of their work. As people come to realize that we can’t “fix” problems after our thinking has made them real to us, people are stymied. With an understanding of the Principles, of the fact that we are creating reality, burnout disappears because the solutions to “problems” are always available from inner wisdom.
There’s a “harder, harder, faster, faster” mentality that keeps people stressed and preoccupied trying to “figure out” everything in life. The faster our thinking goes, the more complicated everything looks. When we begin to recognize the power of leaving our frantic thinking alone and quieting down, the pace of life slows and we become more responsive than reactive. A quieter mind opens the door to wisdom, insight, common sense, and good feelings.
We use terms like self-image, self-esteem, ego easily when we are thinking about ourselves. With an understanding of the power of our own thinking, we can see that none of them has any reality outside of our own moment-to-moment thoughts. We generate all kinds of ideas about who and what we are or should be. When we realize that our thinking is constantly changing and our ideas vary depending on our state of mind, we realize we are making all of it up. It is all an illusion. Our “true” nature is our shared human ability to create ideas and take them more or less seriously.
Often, we feel like we are prisoners of our moods. We think our moods control our thinking, so we use a bad mood as an excuse for what we’re doing or saying: “Don’t mind me, I’m in a bad mood today.” That is an innocent misunderstanding of how our own thinking generates our moods, and how we keep ourselves stuck in them by not realizing we are still thinking the low mood thoughts. Our moods are the barometer of our thinking. As our heads fill with upsetting thoughts, we feel increasingly upset. The answer to an unpleasant mood is letting thoughts pass and quieting our minds.
Moods are like our personal, ever-changing weather. When we’re gray and cloudy, others can feel the gloom. When we’re stormy, people avoid us, or react defensively. When we’re sunny, we brighten every interaction. Once we understand that feelings are the atmosphere in which people relate to each other, regardless of the words spoken, we see when to remain quiet until a mood passes, when not to take others’ statements personally, and when we can talk about anything from a space of love and understanding. Awakening to our own and others’ variable states of mind is the secret to keeping all relationships on track. We gain compassion for ourselves and others during the storms.
People like the title of our podcast, but we want you to know we really mean it. The Principles represent a radical turnaround in the way we look at the assumptions underlying mental health treatment. The “mental health” field has been a “mental illness” field, devoted to identifying and treating the results of the innocent misuse of our power to think. The Three Principles describe the nature of thought, and the spiritual power we have as the thinkers to create any thought. That is our innate mental health; The Principles lead us to awaken to it and use it wisely.
The more time we spend thinking about our problems, the more our spirits drop and the more “alive” our problems seem to us. With an understanding of how thought works, we recognize that spending time going over and over past distress or future worry is a surefire way to stay stuck in “mental illness.” Principles practitioners get in touch with the innate mental health, always present in all people, and allow people to see how to put their minds to rest, come into the present moment, and find their natural wisdom.
Grief is a natural immediate response to loss or tragedy. But grief is really more about us than about the loss we grieve. When someone or something dear or important to us is suddenly gone from us, we feel the emptiness of a space no longer filled in our life. The natural remedy for grief is allowing our own wisdom to show us new paths for ourselves, and allowing our minds to come to peace so that we can enjoy our memories without suffering. Suffering arises from thinking we “should” be sad for a certain length of time, or that we “ought to” show respect by staying in grief.
Thought as a Principle refers to the universal power all beings have to create forms from the formless energy of life. It offers us unlimited potential to think, create, imagine, envision anything. It is the power that allows us to redirect our lives. When we talk about the Principle of Thought, we are not referring to the content of our thinking, but the gift we have to think whatever we want to think and change our minds. Thought is constant and the same for all.
Personal thought is the use we make, individually, of the Power to think. It is the content we create for ourselves, then experience as our separate realities. It is unique to each person, and has no life beyond our own attention to it. When thoughts pass through our minds, the attention we give them determines how vivid or important they seem to us. As we recognize ourselves as the thinkers of our own thoughts, we can let go of the unpleasant, unhelpful thoughts.
Consciousness, the power to bring our thoughts to life through our sensory system, is what allows us to know the experience of life we are creating. As we think, we feel, see, touch, hear, smell and taste what we bring to awareness. But Consciousness is also our spirit, our connection to the energy of life and the power of wisdom. As we experience that spiritual sense more deeply, we quiet down and increasingly know unconditional love and understanding.
All of us face changes, large or small, throughout our lives. Change means getting comfortable with the unknown as our new realities unfold. If we overthink everything, and try to anticipate the details of change and plan ahead, we can become caught up in insecure, circular thinking and start feeling inadequate, overwhelmed, incapacitated by change. When we stay calm and focus on the present, taking challenges as they arise, change is a wonderful life adventure and our innate wisdom guides us through it.
When we begin to explore and discover the power of Mind, Thought, and Consciousness, we naturally change, sometimes to the amazement of our friends and colleagues. Old relationship habits and patterns of interaction fall away for us, leaving others confused or worried about us. As we become calmer, happier, more caring, less self-conscious, more confident, those around us may try to pull us back into old habits, may wonder what we’re doing differently and seek to learn, or may drop away. In any case, as we approach others with love and understanding, all is well.
Wisdom is universal intelligence, what we call “common sense.” Everyone in the world is born into wisdom, the guidance and fresh ideas that flow through a quiet mind. It is natural to children; we learn our way out of it or start to second-guess it with our personal thinking as we grow up. Seeing the Principles leads us back to appreciation for wisdom, and the faith and confidence to recognize when it comes to us with a positive, calming feeling. We cannot go wrong following our wisdom through life; it is a faithful guide.
We’re in the habit of turning to “experts” to help us solve our “problems,” yet we often find we can’t act on others’ “good advice.” The Principles show us why. Problems look urgent and insoluble when we’re insecure, in a low state of mind. When our state of mind changes, when we understand ourselves as the thinkers and know how to find our inner health and our own wisdom and common sense, we resolve things easily and enjoy the thrill of being our own expert.
Everyone, looking back on their life, can think of times they said or did things they regret, from hurtful remarks to physical violence. For some people, acting on their worst thoughts seems like a release from their own psychological pain and insecurity, regardless of consequences. Understanding the relationship between our ever-changing states of mind and thoughts allows us to maintain our bearings to keep ourselves safe and respond from common sense, rather than experiencing escalating rage or fear.
Happiness is a natural state for all human beings; when our minds are at peace, we fall into a state of happiness with no effort. When we have innocently used our own thinking to create turmoil and negativity and unhappiness, the intention to turn away from our circular thoughts and quiet down takes us effortlessly back to peace and contentment. People expend a lot of effort chasing elusive happiness in the external world, frustrated when they cannot achieve it. But we always already have it; it’s like a hidden gem within us.
When we see diagnoses as conditions caused by events or people in our lives doing us psychological harm, both therapists and clients get trapped in diagnoses because we can’t change the past. So life becomes about treating and coping with our mental health diagnoses, rather than finding peace and true mental well-being and being free of them. It’s a matter of perspective; knowing we are the thinkers creating our experience of reality with the power to think frees us to use our power to change.
Increasingly, we’ve noticed people feeling defined by their diagnosis, even in some cases seeing it as a “reason” for issues that arise in their life. Comments like, “It’s my depression kicking in,” or “My anxiety is really bothering me this week,” or “I’m bipolar and lately I have more lows than highs.” The general focus on labels for misunderstood thinking causes both individuals and therapists to focus on the problem, what they perceive as wrong, rather than finding hope for cure and relief from temporary distress.
The most popular therapies today are Cognitive/Cognitive Behavioral approaches. They represent a significant movement towards focusing on thought as the primary issue in mental health struggles, rather than dredging up the past or looking for external causes that must be addressed. But they still are looking at an effect of the power of Thought, the thinking people do, rather than the nature of Thought, our power to think and change our minds. So they tend to focus people on examining or trying to change already-thought thoughts, rather than an understanding of how thought works.