Expanding small worlds.
I’d forgotten to turn off the phone and we were off to bed. A flurry of texts, something desperate going on. Leave it till morning, too tired…. But no, they continued, so I knew I had to ring. The acquaintance (who has no clue I write a blog), was on the cusp of suicide.
The final straw, a conviction that I was against them. I listened, absorbed the blame, gradually reassured that it wasn’t true. Slowly, unpicking toffee from tangled hair, things settled. I said, “You feel the way you do because your world is very small.”
A heavy silence. Oops. I eased up, then continued, “You made it tiny to protect yourself years ago, it’s your haven.”
A verbal nod encouraged me to go on. “But with little exterior input, you reinforce your own views.”
We are each guilty of erecting safe walls within which we compound mindsets that give us comfort. Living in a tiny corner of our minds, our thoughts become more important, they seem valid. If we don’t absorb thoughts from beyond our mental comfort zone our world view doesn’t expanded and we find it difficult to change ourselves or to empathise with the views of others. We are also cautious.
Yet wariness and uncertainty are vital for mental health. I’ve always seen doubt as a vital tool which illuminates your own failings. Even members of the Taliban have moments of doubt, I know, I’ve talked to apparently upright Pashtun men.
Existing in our small ‘clan’ or class’ reinforces our minute mindsets, we blindly accept our creed, which leads to an unbalanced mental-scape. And we are all biased, are each capable of extremism, yup, and we are all silent racists (whatever our colour). I, for example, struggle with certain types - ‘bovver-boys’, over entitled middle-class individuals, the wilfully unemployed. However, due to my background, I warm when I see people of colour, arty types, gypsies.
We are all guilty of staying in certain mindsets even if they are entirely wrong. When others challenge our views, our muddled mind gets stressed and our practical brain assumes there’s a nasty threat. MRI scans show that people who discover their mindsets are false react as if they’ve met a hungry tiger. Flee or fight chemicals fuddle the mind, increasing anxiety - bang bang, conflict, war, destruction; clashes of dubious interest generated by fear! The world feels strange, even hostile. No wonder we pick up the gun, the Bible, snarl or snigger (depending on your style…).
Why live in a dank cellar when there’s a bright garden outside. Imagine a world with fewer paranoid narcissists! Be we snigglers, snarlers, the Taliban or Southern Baptists, we can decide where to lodge our attention. Slipping attention from the aggrieved mind and into the brilliant brain cures our ills, for we leave the boggling, visit the practical and our dum circle of ignorance is broken… go on smile at your silly mind-lead spirals.
This magnetic route quits our little hell. And because the brain gives priority to visual input (to protect us from tigers), sight is a potent tool. Another vital element is generating wellbeing (or warming our ‘heart’) through respect and adoration; happiness leads to compassion, for you, for others. Smiling makes the brain spill endorphins into your blood stream. Combining these, we taste freedom.
The composite exercise below, based on extensive scientific research, is an amalgamation of tricks which have helped those whose traumas are beyond most people’s imagination. It creates a permanent positive mindset, but only if you commit, daily, hourly (thankfully in little boosts). Within three months people feel stronger, more alive.
See/Feel your hands as amazing mechanical inventions, living sculptures.
Move them gently about, relishing their incredible agility, sensitivity and beauty.
Admire them for being the Swiss Army knife of nature!
Smile that you are so lucky to own them.
Smile that you have a brain which drives your hands.
Smile as you feel/see the rest of your superb body/mind self.
Smile that your new refuge is residing in your body/brain.
This exercise is one of many in my books which the charity MIND have endorsed.