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Undertaking a mental revolution

By Sue Ellen Haning
Columnist

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”  Mark Twain, American author and humorist.

Onward and upward all nuts out there.

This week, we will tackle brain surgery.

How many of you never expected to do brain surgery on anyone, let alone on yourself? I know, I would feel much better practicing on someone else, but we are tackling the most difficult cases first … ourselves.

We can do it.

I would suggest you practice handling the scalpel a bit before beginning; it would be a tragedy to accidentally cut off a finger before we commence. A mental revolution is not brain surgery, you might argue, but by the time you complete your mental revolution, you might realize the two bear a candid likeness.

What exactly is a revolution? By definition a revolution is a turning around of something, usually beginning with dissatisfaction of enough people. It’s a common phenomenon. Thousands of revolutions have taken place since the beginning of time, some successful, some not, but all with the intent to make life better in some way. One such revolution is the American Revolution in 1775, when a group of rebels successfully established their independence from Great Britain, birthing the republic you and I now enjoy called the United States of America. In 1798, the Irish attempted to follow suit and gain independence from British rule, but didn’t have any luck. That might tell you something about the rebels on this side of the pond.

Most of us have had experience with revolution at some point in our lives, even if it may have been unsuccessful. Two year-olds readily revolt over just about anything. In our teens we likely attempted to break away from the tyranny of our parents, but realized we might need to wait a few years until mom and dad help with college tuition.

Some of you experienced a mini mental revolution when connecting with your giant a few weeks ago. A change in thinking had to take place to take on your giant. Getting outside your comfort zone requires mental adjustments as well, so we all have had revolutionary experience and taking it to the next level will prove easy.

We are attempting to break down our thinking so we can be intimate with our own minds. Could a mental revolution and a mental breakdown be the same? In my thesaurus, revolution and breakdown are not synonyms, but I am still waiting on my copy of the Successful Nuts’ Thesaurus and who knows what comparisons are made there? It stands to reason that revolution and breakdown are related.

Life presents us with many an opportunity to begin a mental revolution, but unfortunately we are usually too busy to pay attention.

A mental revolution might begin like this: Dreaming of moving somewhere remote, wondering what it might feel like to break the chains of culture and familiarity to be someone totally different than the person everyone knows you to be. This dream is thrilling, and you might imagine yourself free as a bird doing things, saying things and dressing differently than ever before. If this dream is to become reality, your mind must make a change. It must revolve around the idea.

My upbringing did not encourage daydreaming, which was considered wasting time. I highly encourage daydreaming on a regular basis, no matter what your age. Grab a daydream on your coffee break, while brushing your teeth, while waiting for doctor, lawyer or Indian chief. Sometimes, daydreaming at the stop light is possible. No need to worry about the light changing, for the person behind you will remind you with their horn when it’s time to move on.

What takes place in a mind during daydreaming? Things not literally seen are visualized in the mind’s eye, allowing our minds to wrap themselves around an idea whether it be a wish, a different way of doing something or a radical idea. Our imaginations can take us places never before visited and are better than books because the colors, sounds and smells are our own experiences and not an unknown author’s. Daydreaming is quite natural for children, who unfortunately, too often get it punished out of them.

Often we must remove ingrained beliefs. This is where brain surgery is useful. My mother believed and taught me that we are born into wealth or not. It was a fact of life in her mind. There was no choice as to whether or not one was rich or poor. I was told that only rich people collected art or traveled to see the world. It was OK, though, she said, because we had our own life. I believed her and that belief stayed with me for years. It wasn’t until I began reading biographies that I questioned her teaching on the subject.

Beliefs we take on in childhood confine and limit us unless we can recognize them and are willing to remove them any way we can — cut them out and throw them away, like surgeons do cancerous cells and tumors. Like any revolution, action is required. Libraries, the Internet and people walking down the street are full of rags-to-riches, disease-to-health, and broken-to-whole stories. The interviews with Olympians provide enough inspiration to last a lifetime. In fact, everywhere we look or listen these inspiring stories can be seen and heard. Are these people just lucky? Are they willing to part with some blood, sweat and tears that we are not, or might they have engaged in brain surgery? A mental revolution?

Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a book titled “The Four Agreements.” It is a primer on the type of brain surgery/mental revolution we are attempting. The four agreements are: be impeccable with your word; don’t take anything personally; don’t make assumptions; always do your best. If you take any one of these agreements and make it a part of your thinking, you have successfully cut into your brain and created a revolution. I encourage you to read “The Four Agreements” if you have not already done so, or read it a second, third or fourth time. This is one of those books from which, no matter how many times you read it, you will continue to mine gold nuggets.

Our lives cannot be anything different unless and until we are willing to recognize the old beliefs or agreements we have made with ourselves that are not complimenting our lives and replace them with healthy, sustaining, true ones.

Did someone or something in your life make you feel unworthy? Do you think no one wants you? Do you believe you are born lucky or not? Do you think since everyone in your family is overweight, you are doomed to be overweight also? These are all untruths that are not serving your best interest. There are probably others as well. This week, see if you can uncover old beliefs that are limiting you. To uncover these you must take an honest look at the dissatisfaction in your life. An old belief is probably under that dissatisfaction. Once you have uncovered these areas, you are primed for a mental revolution. The truth is that you can do anything you want to do; you can be anything you want to be. You can have anything you want to have. Use your scalpel skillfully and you may realize you are, indeed, your own brain surgeon. It is never too late to rebel against your own limiting beliefs. Rebellion can be a positive thing. Remember 1775.

Have a great week.

”I like a little rebellion now and then.” — Thomas Jefferson, author of The Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States, among other outstanding accomplishments.

sueellen.haning@gmail.com

This story was posted on September 19, 2013.