The Fallacy of Turning Off Your Mind

By Anthony Gold

One of the most common pieces of wisdom dispensed to people who are suffering from stress, sadness, sleeplessness, or any other such malady is this:

Just stop thinking about it.

As if a switch can be thrown and whatever is troubling us magically disappears.

Of course, the logic behind the wisdom is sound. If we could, indeed, just stop thinking about whatever is troubling us, then we would feel better.

That’s why distractions seem to work. For a moment, our mind is engaged in something other than our problems, and the pain is (temporarily) gone.

Until our mind comes right back to the problem – which it inevitably does.

But there’s a reason that we often tell others not to dwell so much on their issues. And it isn’t because we think it’s simple for them to turn off their mind. It’s because we aren’t suffering from that same issue.

Said another way, when we cannot relate to a particular problem that someone else is having – meaning it isn’t or hasn’t been an issue for us – then it’s easy for us to miss the significance of how hard it is for them to deal with.

Each one of us truly believes that our problems are real and need to be addressed in some way – including denial. But when we can’t relate to a specific problem that someone else is suffering from, it is so easy to offer well-intentioned advice like just stop thinking about it.

The truth is that every one of us is struggling and suffering in some way. Each of our issues may not look the same as others, but the underlying content of everyone’s suffering is identical.

True empathy does not mean that we feel what someone else feels – how could we – but it means that we totally understand what’s behind their suffering. And when we can tap into our true purpose in the world – which is simply this: to be helpful – then we become a channel for healing.

When we can step out of our ego and let our true nature shine through, then we don’t have to worry about the words to say or the actions to take to help others – it simply flows through us.

But there is no such thing as helping others without helping ourselves. As many wise sages over the generations have taught:

What you perceive in others you are strengthening in yourself.

And all our perceptions come from whether we’ve chosen our ego mind or to be a channel for healing and love.

So, if we want to truly help others – and help ourselves – instead of trying to shut off our mind (or theirs), we make a decision to change our mind. From such a shift comes an entirely new world of perception. One that is far lighter, brighter, and full of constant joy. And the more we practice choosing the mind of love instead of the ego, the faster we can transcend our challenges and pain.

Join me in Monday’s class where we’ll explore the nature of changing our mind, and how we can practice making such a liberating shift. I look forward to seeing you then.

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