Most of us take for granted that quiet arises from shutting off the outside noise in our lives, turning off the music or the TV, going to a quiet, peaceful space free from traffic noise or busy people talking, settling down without distraction. Finding quietude is much deeper than that; it is turning away from our personal minds and the thinking and analyzing they always produce, and turning towards nothingness, towards not knowing and wondering. External activity has nothing to do with that kind of quiet; it arises from the depths of our soul and is always accessible.
This is the time of year when most of us come up with a list of things we must commit to do in the New Year. It has become a source of wry humor that most of us compare notes in February and realize we haven’t kept up or aren’t really committed to our “resolutions.” For some, that’s amusing, for others, it sets off negative, judgmental thinking. Yet, when we understand how thought works, it makes sense. We don’t change because we “should” or we feel pressure. Change comes from moments of inspiration, when a change feels obvious and easy, because it arises from our wisdom and and makes sense to us.
A term used in Psychology for people who have an optimistic outlook is “toxic positivity.” The idea is that people who embrace life in good spirits regardless of external events are burying or denying reality, or refusing to “process” serious problems. A common misunderstanding among people learning about the Principles is that those who “get it” are relentlessly positive and dismissive of negative feelings. The Principles describe how life works; they do not prescribe how we will work out our own lives. People who see the Principles at work experience the full range of emotions and responses to life. An understanding of the Principles allows us to know that states of mind are always changing as our thoughts change. It keeps us from becoming frightened by our own negative feelings, or from trying to cling to positive feelings. It leaves us at ease with all of life.
People have asked us whether it’s arrogant to talk about the Principles as spiritual truths, rather than as someone’s theory. Principles, in every field of endeavor, once discovered, explain everything, no exceptions. The Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought explain how the experience of life is created, why it is changeable, and why as long as we are alive, we have the power to change. It explains where beliefs and theories come from – the power of Thought. Without Principles, there would be no theories. Once people discover Principles, they need no more theories; they understand how something works and they are free from needing to keep looking for new theories to explain exceptions.
We talk a lot about Insight; it is a truly remarkable gift, always available to all of us. We can’t say enough about the freedom and depth we gain from living from insight, rather than chasing beliefs. The source of beliefs is the intellect, the already known. Beliefs are ideas we generate from reorganizing our memory — our bank of knowledge — to try to understand or decide things in the present. Insights arise out of the blue, from Wisdom, always relevant to our present-moment situations. When we are able to let go of churning through our thoughts and accept not knowing until we “see” what we need to know, life feels easy and things work out in unexpected ways. Insight works beyond our intellect to allow us to see true change and make sense of our lives.
Many therapy approaches are focused on trauma, based on the assumption that people who have experienced trauma must come to peace and move on in life. Three Principles practitioners assume people can realize that past trauma is a memory, a ghostly image from the past recalled in the present and re-experienced via Consciousness. It has no power but the power people give it as it comes to mind. We focus on understanding the nature of thought that allows us to recall memories and see them for what they are without suffering in the present.
Mental illness diagnoses are actually snapshots of times when someone is caught up in dysfunctional thinking, not descriptions of their character or being. People can become frightened by a diagnosis, as if it was a truth about them, and feel hopeless. As people realize their power to think and experience their thinking as real, they understand when to take thoughts to heart and when to allow them to pass. They see how quieting their minds allows wisdom to restore equilibrium. They know their innate resilience as their true nature, sometimes obscured by the insecure thoughts called diagnoses.
Some treatments for those who have experienced trauma assume that past trauma manifests in people’s bodies, and creates chronic pain or discomfort. From a 3P perspective, trauma is not a “thing” or a “condition;” it is a memory, images carried forward through time which come to life as feelings via consciousness when the thought is present. The brain and the body and our physical feelings are all part of the world of form; our thinking is a spiritual power, our way of using the formless energy of life to generate our own experience of our lives. So we may “feel” trauma as we recall it, but what we are feeling is our Consciousness bringing a memory to life. When the memory fades, or when we come to understand what thought and memories are, the experience of it changes.
Mental Health approaches often contain “toolboxes,” collections of tips and techniques to help you get through various psychological situations. From the standpoint of the 3P, we are born with the only tool we need to regain and sustain our well-being and peace of mind: the power of Thought. Once we understand and own that power and realize that we are the creators of our own experiences, we recognize our changing states of mind as the guide to the quality of our thinking and we exercise our own power to allow thoughts that are unhelpful to pass. The content of our thoughts has no power. We have the power to direct it, ignore it, allow it to pass, or just enjoy it.
Many people think it is important to love yourself to understand love. We would say trying to love yourself involves a lot of thinking about yourself, and dealing with judgments. When we connect with the spiritual nature of Mind, Consciousness and Thought, the life power before the formation of ideas and judgments, the FEELING of love, a universal, non-contingent contentment and appreciation for life itself – pure love – fills us up and we feel a connection deeper than personal love. In that deep feeling, we forget about ourselves and just immerse ourselves in the moment. Love and understanding for all of life emerges from that feeling.
We talk about Innate Health as fundamental to the effect of the Principles. It’s good to stop to appreciate what a gift it is to mankind. Innate Health is the spiritual core of well-being that cannot be touched by the circumstances of our life. It is our intuitive knowing that we’re OK, deep-down, and we can rise above our problems. It’s the resource that allows us to survive and thrive. It is our default setting that renews our resilience once we quiet down in the midst of turmoil; we naturally return to balance and wisdom as we understand the nature of thought and allow dysfunctional thinking to pass. People resonate with the very mention of Innate Health because it is a profound universal truth about humanity.
Think of the intellect, our personal mind, as our individual library, collections of everything we’ve learned or thought about, representing all we know so far. It is what allows us to study and learn, to do our work, to remember how to get around places, to recall people we know, to enjoy reminiscing, and also to scare ourselves with recollections of our difficulties or bad experiences. We depend on our intellect, and we can become so attached to it and enamored of what we know that we lose sight of the greatest resource we have, access to the unknown and to wisdom beyond the intellect from which, in a quiet mind, we gain insights and new answers and fresh ideas to guide us.
Disagreements are a head-on collision of thoughts. When two people (or groups, organizations, nations) who see the world differently confront each other’s ideas, the result is often misunderstanding (or anger, alienation, war). Without understanding, thoughts look not only real, but clearly right, to us. The Principles bring us back to our common humanity with the understanding that thinking is a spiritual gift that all people share; we experience our reality as we think and become aware of our thoughts. But everyone creates a different, ever-changing reality. Knowing how the gifts of thought and consciousness work, we can appreciate differences. Knowing that the quality of our thinking changes with our state of mind allows us to understand ups and downs. That gives us ease with differences and grace with each other.
We started “Psychology Has It Backwards: The Program” to give people who follow our podcasts an opportunity to meet with us and explore their questions and ideas more deeply. We wanted to help therapists understand our work; help people who are trying to find ease in life get experience with the ideas and interact with others who are finding more peace; and show people learning to work with the Principles how it looks to interact with clients/learners from this perspective. It has turned out to be a really nice experience, so we’re hoping more people will join us. We have kept the price very low and there are no requirements; we just want to share contentment and happiness and the promise of the Three Principles.
Planning and goal-setting are highly recommended techniques for life success. We offer a different view. The ability to have a successful experience of life is intrinsic to all human beings; it is recognizing and following our wisdom instead of getting locked into our personal thinking about what should happen and then struggling to make it work out. It makes sense to have a direction, an intention, for life — the work or activities or people that attract you. The intention opens you to recognizing opportunities or listening to your own creative thinking as you make decisions and move through life. Wisdom is like our internal Sherpa, leading us through the unknown to as yet unseen beauty and happiness.
Some people get upset with life or disappointed in themselves if relationships don’t turn out the way they hoped or planned. People get locked into bad feelings and find they have trouble “getting over” the relationship. In fact, as soon as a relationship ends, “it” is over. From then on, we are locked in a relationship with our own memories. It helps to see how easily we can be tricked by our own thinking. If we dwell on what we’ve lost, or what went wrong, or why our plan went awry, we are innocently wallowing in the muck of old thoughts and losing touch with life as it is now and a fresh start. A deeper understanding of our power as the thinker to quiet our thinking and listen for new insights is the answer.
Much is written about personality disorders. With an understanding of the Principles, we can see that what we call personality disorders are the best efforts of extremely insecure people to define and control themselves. They either create a fantastic idea of themselves and present to the world as perfect, always right, and better/smarter than everyone else or they create a victim story in which their life is far worse than anyone else’s. They think they are always mistreated, misunderstood and taken advantage of by others. Those are the two sides of profound insecurity: thinking about oneself constantly and hiding fear behind braggadocio — positive or negative. If people calm down enough to just be in life and not worry about themselves and their image, the “disorders” fade.
Understanding the Three Principles leads to mental well-being and allows for it to be sustained and strengthened throughout our lifetime. The Principles explain a universal fact: we all use the power of Mind to create our own Thought, and Consciousness enables us to experience our perception of our life as real. Once we recognize that we are the creators of our individual realities, we can navigate life’s ups and downs. Knowing that our feelings are the barometers of the quality of our thinking allows us to turn away from figuring out or fighting our thoughts. Instead we use our feeling states as a guide to whether to take our thinking seriously, or allow it to pass. The Principles explain that the power to think is the power to live the life we want. We know to quiet our minds and look towards positive feelings.
Sydney Banks always told people, “Just be you. Just be ordinary.” Many people thought he was advising mediocrity. But he was not. He was advising understanding that each one of us is born with the power to think our way through the life we can imagine; no two people are alike. It doesn’t help us to compare ourselves to others or to aspire to be more like x-person we admire. Just relaxing into our own being and understanding that what we all have in common as human beings is that we are each creating our own separate realities. No one is special; everyone has the same beauty, resiliency, and power to change from within, and infinite potential. Being the ordinary human being we each are is extraordinary.
Most of us got the message growing up that success is an outcome of making and adhering to careful plans. A deeper understanding of how our minds work, of the Principles, leads us to realize that having a direction, or intention, is helpful, but detailed plans keep the intellect busy and judgmental. That holds wisdom at bay. Deep listening, and patience to wait until an action or decision arises from wisdom, take us down unexpected paths towards our destinations, and often protect us from poor choices. We “know” it when when seeing it leaves us feeling settled, secure and confident.