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“It’s The Space Between The Notes That Makes The Music”

July 16, 2016


On a human scale, creating this same kind space in our life adds to our resilience and is the essence of Mark Manson’s recent article “3 Ideas That Could Change Your Life” As we become more resilient we can be stronger more helpful members of our community.

Do you get nervous before a job interview or a presentation? Do you get creatively blocked? Has worry about your business ever got in the way of good decision making? Does reviewing what happened around a difficult situation with yourself or others only makes you feel more upset? When you are angry at someone, have you ever noticed yourself pulling in all the past mistakes they have done to back up how wrong the person really is now? Do you ever try to stop feeling a certain way but it just does not make you feel any better?

In his article, Manson distills down some of the essential components in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to point out that “Most of our psychological and emotional stress happens because our Thinking Mind and Observing Mind are “fused” and we don’t recognize the difference.”

The thinking mind looks after all your judgments, beliefs thoughts, memories etc. More importantly, it stores all the stories we have about ourselves. The ones we seldom question that began forming when we were very young but may be no longer valid.

The observing mind enables us to be aware of whatever we are thinking or feeling or doing at any moment. Many of us are unaware of our observing mind but it can be developed through Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness and other similar practices.

We don’t have much control of our thinking minds says Manson. “The Thinking Mind is always chattering away, while you’re waiting in line, while you’re in bed trying to sleep, when you “tune out” of conversations with people, or when your mind wanders while reading” says Manson

When fusion between the two minds takes place, we “identify with” or “become” the feeling. Then we get stuck, fight it or run away from it. “The fact that you and I can think, reflect on the past, imagine the future, even to be conscious of our own consciousness is what distinguishes humans from all other animals. The fact that you and I can think, reflect and so often regret the past, imagine and so often fear the future, even to be unconscious of our own capacity to be conscious is the biggest curse humans live with and so try to escape from almost continually” explains Russ Davies in his website on ACT

Many writers suggest a range of methods to tame the thinking mind but stopping or derailing the chatter within us is often futile.  Instead, Davies and Manson suggest that by accepting the running thoughts as though they were background music, or the ticker tape at the stock market, one can attend to the observing mind with its opportunities to move forward in positive and constructive way.

In addition to increasing one’s sense of presence or mindfulness, just changing our day to day language can play a powerful role in unlocking the thinking mind from the observing mind. For example, a small language change such saying “I have a feeling of anger towards Mary” instead of “I am angry at Mary” is enough to unlock the fusion. I am angry at Mary leads into the trap of identifying with the anger. Whereas, “I have a feeling of anger towards Mary means that you are viewing the anger though the observing mind. You can notice it and let it run and choose to move forward in the face of it.

Once the fusion is unlocked it creates the space to leave the strong feelings behind and to start moving step by step towards a happier, more productive and prosperous life. Both articles are a good read!

Wayne Greenway is Senior Partner with Career Aviators, a social purpose business that directs all profit to innovative youth leadership initiative in Guelph. He is passionate about helping people to find jobs in which they will excel, value highly and love to do. Learn More
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