Updated: Mar 17
This idea that we can spend 21 days forming a new habit seems a bit draconian to me.
Our minds are amazing tools, and in spite of the fact that they are hijacked by untold propaganda and marketing, once you turn all that stuff off, you really can return to a mind of your own.
Most of us have or do experience the monkey mind. A mind full of chatter that often appears meaningless. But is it?
Today's inspiration is about getting control over the monkey mind
At first it's a bit of a challenge if you try to do that whilst you still expose yourself to all the mind numbing stuff you see on TV or in your social media feed.
Grab an old pad and do a brain dump. Everything that's close to the surface, get it out and down on paper. Just jot it all down. Do this for 21 days.
Apparently that's what psychologist suggest is the time it takes to form a new habit.
As I reflected on this idea it didn't make a whole lot of sense. What new habit are we forming here? One that says I have to write down everything that's on my mind every single day!
The real value in this exercise is looking for patterns and associations. If you keep this journal for 21 days you'll notice the things that keep going through your mind. From there you'll get a pretty good idea if there's unfinished business that you can explore and work through. Or you might find some tendencies that aren't serving you well that emerge from old stories that you've come to believe about yourself.
Here are a few examples:
You might find that you're monkey mind is tossing over...
an incident that happened 5, 10 15 years ago
a sibling that you never managed to get on with
an incident in your childhood or school days
an accident you had in the passed
something someone said to you weeks ago
These are examples of unfinished business. Something hasn't finished for you, there's no closure. The way to resolve this monkey mind is to get a good therapist to help you work this through. This is one of the most common reasons client's engage me.
Then there's the monkey mind that worries about things:
the cat is sneezing, I wonder if she's okay
I haven't polished the lounge for about 2 weeks
what was that noise I heard in the street
did I take something out of the freezer for dinner
if I leave the washing out too long it will be burned by the sun
my shoes aren't polished
my hair is not perfect
my bathroom is not spotless
have I done enough work today
This monkey mind is also telling you a story about yourself. And it might have something to do with "not good enough", or "life is not safe", or something else.
These stories are also "unfinished business" and they have become a bit of a life theme.
You can definitely learn about your monkey mind, and maybe even manage it a little by journaling it down and bringing it to your awareness.
Here are some other things you can do that will make all the difference.
By all means, journal your thoughts each day for 21 days or more if you find it helpful
Note the repetitive patterns
Make associations with what you were doing when those thoughts were on your mind
Give yourself a break from all manner of propaganda and marketing that constantly reminds you that you don't measure up, you're not good enough, you don't stack up against, by limiting your time watching mindless televised news that always has a bent for the negative and sensational, or social media feeds.
Connect with a good therapist to help you work through your unfinished business so that you can put your mind to more creative pursuits. Individual sessions are invaluable for this work.
Years ago I took this advice and filled volumes of journals with my thoughts. The thing that made the difference was capturing those thoughts when they arrived and working out what triggered them. What was it in my external world, my environment, that triggered a thought about my past. That's valuable information. It was at this time that I began to heal from the trauma and emotional distance that I experienced in my earlier years.
Nowadays I don't have the monkey mind problem, and haven't for some decades, until of course I have another unresolved issue. Then my mind wants to chew it over, and over, and over, and over until I get it resolved.
Your mind is an incredible and powerful tool. When we clear it of all the conditioning that is rained upon us by our social media and all manner of broadcasts from every direction, we can have a mind that is as sharp as a laser beam. One that won't keep us awake at night, that won't exhaust us with useless mind chatter, and one that is able to be applied to anything you think you want to focus on and much more.
It's this mind that enables me to do my deepest client work. And it's this mind that keeps me well and healthy, with a powerfully responsive immune system.
Understand that it is this unfinished business that is at the source of all your emotional, mental and physical health problems.
What sort of monkey mind do you have? I'd love to here what you discover in 21 days.
366 days Towards Self-Mastery
When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)
I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart.
As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.
My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And seeing as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice.
So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when? I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here. Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.