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SLIPPERY MENTAL TERRITORY

December 10th, 2018

If we think of our internal mental world as a kind of landscape, there are certainly obvious highs and lows that we can point out. It’s interesting that our verbiage about how things are going in life actually references a sort of landscape.

 

The ups and downs of life,

 

Going through a rough patch,

 

Flying high,

 

But however we are doing in the real world boils down to some information that we have the option of taking seriously and embedding in our mind in order to effect our mental state, or not.  Our ability to feel a sense of wellbeing is really determined by our ability to navigate and manipulate an internal landscape as opposed to trying to live some story out in the real world.  It may be dangerous to explore too much of a disconnect from reality, as this is the hallmark of psychosis in many cases,

 

but paradoxically,

 

it is also the hallmark of the stoic and the buddhist, who relegates the state of one’s mind to a purely internal engine.

 

As Nassim Nicholas Taleb once wrote: “For those..who wonder about the difference between Buddhism and Stoicism, I have a simple answer.  A stoic is a Buddhist with attitude, one who says  ‘f*** you’ to fate.”

 

This is the epitome of balance between incorporating reality into our mental models and keeping a certain internal distance from it all in order to covet a self-generating sense of mental well-being. 

 

But such a sort of mental super power does not happen overnight.

 

Such a perspective might seem like a fairy tale paradox to someone who lives under a barrage of uncontrolled emotions. 

 

Human psychology is generally slow to change, but it does clearly change over the years, and given this fact, we can slowly direct that change until a fairy tale paradox is a little more at home in a mind equipped with greater clarity and calmness.

 

The first step might be to identify whatever slippery mental territory seems already well entrenched in our mind.

 

Each piece of this landscape can be edited.  This requires contemplating those dark mental processes while in a neutral state.

 

We might retroactively observe our anger in some sort of situation and ask what we could have done differently.  The first step to changing that landscape may be as simple as resolving to walk away from any situation that incites anger.  A walk around the block and some slow breathing can do wonders.

 

Or we might pause for a work out.  Even if we find our self in a work setting we can always take 5 and go find a place to bust out a few dozen push-ups. 

 

There are countless strategies to mitigate and restructure the parts of our mind that presents a threat to our mental wellbeing.

 

The first step is simply giving the whole thing some thought, with calm thoughtfulness.  Everything builds from there.`

 


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Podcast Ep. 239: Slippery Mental Territory

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