Mindfulness is increasingly recognized as a valuable mental health strategy. It moves the field closer to the Principles with a focus on awareness of the present moment, and acceptance of one’s feelings and thoughts as they pass. People often ask us if our work is a form of mindfulness. It isn’t because we do not ask people to think about their thinking or learn to accept their feelings. To us, that is still after the fact of the Principles, which focus people on their innate mental well-being and clear their heads, access wisdom, and continually experience higher quality thinking and better feelings.
A crucial element of the Three Principles understanding is the recognition that things look different to people as their states of mind change. People in a low state of mind experience a lot of negative thinking that affects their perception of everything. If we take to heart what people who are upset say to us, we can be misled, either in our own response to friends or colleagues, or in our listening to clients, into trusting the details of the way life looks in that state of mind. When we realize how readily states of mind lift and life looks different, we find understanding of ourselves and others.
The magic of working in the Principles is seeing how people transform via their own insights into life. The experience of insight awakened all of us to the power of change from within, and when we see it happen to others as we work to them, the experience is joyful and inspiring. No one can fix another person; intellectual insights don’t really change people. But true insight, a beam of wisdom lighting the mind and bringing to life a new idea, is transformational. These “Aha!” moments emerge from a hopeful feeling and a quiet mind, and the more we have, the more we live our dreams.
Because traditional psychology is focused on the contents of our thinking and the behaviors that result, there are many, many well-meaning books and articles offering advice about how we should feel in various negative situations. Thus people worry if they can’t correctly follow the five stages of grief, or if they don’t freak out if they are unfairly blamed for something, or if they remain calm during a traumatic event, or if they get over a bad event “too quickly.” The truth is, we all access our own wisdom in our own way, and we have a natural guide, innate health, that will always lead us to the answers we need for ourselves.
No one can fix anyone else. Yet we have come to believe that if we just find the right advisor, or the right therapist, or the right self-help technique, or the right program, they or it will fix us. Clients even shop Three Principles programs eagerly taking notes and waiting for a magic bullet. Our work is really a roadmap to your own resiliency, insight, wisdom and peace – the Innate Health that is our birthright and is always available to us. So the interaction between 3P practitioners and clients is meant to awaken the clients to what they already have, and assist them to find the way to access their own best ideas and natural peace of mind. We’re built to do it ourselves.
Traditional mental health approaches deal with the outcomes of our thinking, and put attention on what we think, why our thinking is making us feel bad, why we think it, etc. Three Principles practitioners address the fact that we have the power to think, and we can use a stressful, or any negative state of mind as an internal signal that we are holding onto negative thinking. We draw clients into their natural, innate state that is peaceful, calm, loving. From that perspective, clients start to have insights and resolve their problems. They learn to use their feelings as a guide to when to take their thinking to heart – and when to see it as a just a signal to quiet down and look for a deeper feeling.
When people hear “spiritual,” they often think “oh, religion…” But spirituality, in the context of the Three Principles, refers to the formless energy of creation, the power of life itself, the pure feeling of being alive in the moment, without the intrusion of personal thought. Spirituality is to religion as electricity is to lights; it is the power behind reverence and appreciation that leads to religious thinking, but it is not the content of that thinking. Put another way, spirituality is a beautiful, deep feeling, the space before thought, the impetus for us to create our experience of living in form.
Most people come to psychologists or counselors with the hope that they can get help dealing with their problems. In traditional psychology, problems are real, and various approaches help people to understand them, address them from a new perspective, re-frame them, re-direct their thinking about them. Three Principles practitioners understand problems as artifacts of our thinking in lower states of mind; “problems” look very different to us depending on our state of mind and understanding the role of our thinking in finding solutions. When people find wisdom, they resolve their problems.
Everyone has stories to tell about “searching” for experts, wise people, gurus, geniuses… anyone perceived as having special, deep understanding of life. Many people search for years, often finding interesting and helpful ideas along the way. But searching does not bring us our own answers, or peace of mind. SEEING, that is gaining our own deep insights from our own wisdom, is the natural guide to our own lives, and wisdom is within all people, always accessible, but not always understood or accessed. When we SEE for ourselves, we get the answers we need for ourselves.
We’ve all had the experience of variable feelings of our own pain — for example, forgetting about an aching back in the presence of a laughing baby or a playful puppy. The way we experience pain is through thought. What and how much we think about pain determines how it feels to us. As our state of mind falls into insecurity, we tend to focus on what’s wrong and it feels much worse. When we are distracted or our spirits lift and our thinking changes, pain moves into the background and we experience life in the foreground. Pain is a signal that lets us know how we’re using our thinking.
People are told to fix what appears to be wrong with them in order to feel better and end up feeling hopeless, or broken because it doesn’t help. Focusing on the problems we have or trying to change experiences we have already created does not bring us to mental well-being. “Trying” is a signal you are turned around and attempting to find happiness by managing thought or behavior. Turn around and look inside. Find the state of mind that provides security and let the answers come to you. It is so simple and easy unless you are looking at it backwards!
Most of us have gone through a time in our life when we’ve had our heart broken or feelings hurt in relationships with friends and lovers. Misunderstanding of why things are happening comes from our own analysis of the events. We feel wronged and sometimes justified in holding onto grudges, feeling hateful, and obsessing about all the negative things that happened, but this only keeps us stuck in the past and personalizing everything.
Finding peace and moving on comes not from analyzing the situation but from accessing our own innate health and listening to our wisdom. We can then see the past from a different vantage point and once again find happiness.
We frequently talk ourselves out of inspiration by trusting our insecure thinking. Then we can get caught up in analyzing an infinite number of reasons WHY we’re doing what we’re doing. In this episode, we bring it back to simplicity and discuss how learning to quiet down, listen to your wisdom, and trust the thinking that comes to you, helps you to follow through and get the things done that you really want to do.
We’ve all been advised to “set boundaries” with others, or around our own behaviors. But does that mean that others will follow our “rules,” or that we’ll remember our own boundaries when we get insecure? We explain that boundaries that arise from insecurity are different from wisdom, or common sense insights, that occur to us in the moment and lead us to step away from situations, or step back from our own impulses or habitual thoughts and behaviors. We can “observe” boundaries without trying to manage others or make rules that won’t be followed under pressure, and live at peace.
The intellect is our personal library, the collection of all the thoughts, experiences and knowledge we have had. It represents everything we already know. “Intelligence,” on the other hand, is wisdom, insight, common sense — new knowledge that arises in response to present moment curiosity. When we “don’t know” what to say or do or how to respond, going to the intellect to “figure it out,” or ruminating about it, will not provide an answer. If we know the answer, we’ll have it right away. If we don’t know, the answer is in the unknown. The unknown from quiet wondering, listening deeply and waiting for fresh thought. It’s where the thrill of discovery and the adventure of life in the moment arise.
Most of us are taught that modern life is full of “stressors” and we are bound to get stressed out by things that happen in life — from traffic to trauma. We are told to develop coping mechanisms to help us deal with the stress we have to face. The Principles explain that stress is not thrust upon us by events, but created by the way we think about life events. Everyone responds to the whole range of life events in their own way. That’s actually good news because, with an understanding of how thinking works, we are empowered to live at peace, no matter what.
Recognizing stress in ourselves is a matter of awareness of the feeling state we are in and which way we are going. If we are feeling more and more tense, that is a signal that we are taking negative, stressful thinking seriously and trying to analyze it or fight it. The antidote to stress is becoming aware of our changing feeling states and having the intention to turn away from tension and agitation. Rather than arguing with ourselves or trying to talk ourselves out of “stress,” we learn to quiet down, allow our thinking to settle, and look for a deeper feeling and moments of wisdom that elevate us.
The usual reason people seek therapy is to solve their problems, or try to fix what’s wrong with them. In this regard, particularly, Principles practitioners are entirely different. We see the goal of therapy as assisting people to reconnect with their innate mental well-being, find their own common sense and peace of mind, and realize they are naturally whole and resilient. No one is broken, and everyone is able to solve their own problems once they understand that answers are always available when our minds are clear and we recognize fresh thought.
(This is a rerun of Episode 2.) Psychology has been treating all the outcomes of insecure, misunderstood thinking as though they were the problems. The one underlying problem is what creates insecurity.
The most fulfilling aspect of living and working from an understanding of the Principles is that it offers infinite deepening of our understanding, and thus our mental well-being. Sydney Banks said “There is no end or limitation, nor are there boundaries, to the human mind.” He pointed us to continually remain open to wisdom, the fresh thoughts that arise in a quiet mind directly from the formless energy of life. As we quiet down and gain insights our faith in wisdom grows. Our work always points to the simplicity, joy, and endless possibilities, of looking beyond the limits of our personal thinking.