Yes, you are trapped! Don’t look around to find a sign or clue of being confined. But the fact is that you are trapped and you don’t even know you are. It is not a physical confinement, but you are a victim of your own mind and under its captivity and shall remain so, until you realise what freedom from yourself means.
Let me try to give you a sneak peak into your liberated self, make you aware how it feels to be at peace with yourself! I can only try to create a virtual description through my words. The real life experience you will need to generate for yourself, which will depend on how hard you want to feel free.
But this comes with a caution: being your own prisoner is the worst kind of captivity and it is very difficult to break free from that bondage. So you really need to be tough and strong and be ready to confront the toughest side of you, the existence of which you were unaware of. But if you are able to, there’s nothing, but bliss which shall prevail and your life will be beautiful.
Imagine your life when you are free from all the pain and sorrow you hold so close to your heart, which you refuse to let go and bring it up every now and then. What if you had no fear or regret? What if you do not get emotionally hurt? What if there is no anger in you? What if there is absolute contentment in your life? What if each day gives you the feeling of accomplishment? What if you look forward to every morning with the same eagerness and curiosity? What if you do not need an occasion to celebrate, but instead, every day is a celebration for you? What if you never fail to give your best in every task you undertake? What if you do not want to change any thing in yourself or your life? What if you are at peace with your past, fulfilled with your present and do not worry about your future? What if you do not find faults with anyone? What if you don’t even dread your death? What if you are perpetually happy? What if…?
Now that is the kind of bliss I am talking about, and how ‘freedom from yourself’ would feel. Sounds good but impossible, right? Well, here’s where you are trapped instantly.
Your own trap
The moment you think that such a state of mind is unachievable, you are trapped. Your mind tricks you very smartly into believing something; and you, like a naïve puppy, follow the orders to perfection. I will now try to explain to you how this trap is laid out by us to be trapped-ourselves! Let’s call them our ‘mind traps’. These ‘mind traps’ work on a very simple three step method, which is actually the way a human mind is supposed to work. Situation – Inference – Reaction, but this simple process is tampered with our over-fertile mind. It is the second and the third step, which together decides the texture of your mind and how much are you a prisoner of it.
Let me elaborate. In our minds, we have a set of fixed belief systems, which exist by default in our ‘inference’ or the interpretation segment, the step 2 of the mind trap. This is due to our own judgements, where we assign ourselves certain interpretations or reactions – permanently. Later, when a similar situation is faced, we directly jump to step 3, skipping step 2 altogether.
It is more like an anticipated or biased judgement. This in turn generates reactions from us, which are totally irrelevant sometimes. I will give you an example to support this belief.
With an exception in some cases when there is no time available to process a situation rationally, we simply react by screaming, running away etc. But the fact is that our brain has certainly gone through this flow of situation – inference – reaction, subconsciously. I will elaborate further on our pre-existing reactions. For example: I lost something – sadness, Someone cheated me – anger. a threatening situation – fear, I made a mistake – regret, I misbehaved – shame.
These are a few of the typical assumptions which a human mind makes. The benefits of understanding of these thoughts or this thinking pattern, however, help us to generate the right kind of reaction based on the past experience or otherwise. But these thinking patterns also weave a web in our minds, a kind of ‘mind trap’.
We set boundaries
These ‘mind traps’, though helping us to address a situation or a problem effectively, also limit our mind by putting restrictions on our ability to think beyond a particular assumption. This, in a way, is like falling into the trap of our own mind. We fail to think out-of-the-box for any situation and struggle with the same old beliefs; and, in a way, re-live our past over and over again, which is not so pleasant all the time.
Such assumptions limit us; specially when it is supported by phrases and words like ‘I’, ‘they’, ‘never’, ‘always’, ‘can’t’, and the list is endless. Now these words are harmless individually; but form a vicious cycle of thoughts in our mind. Take this for example: “I was misbehaved with”, “I can never do Math”, “They always treat me like that”
Now such thoughts are nothing, but an indication that we are falling into our “mind trap” or the “thinking trap”. These assumptions are usually without examining the evidence, but directly jumping to the conclusion. Now that is not too good; is it? Not in every circumstance.
Jumping to conclusions restrict our capabilities to take up challenges in form of situations life puts in-front of us; which in a way means that we are trapped by our own notions and prejudices.
Way out of the maze
So what the way out of this trap should be is the obvious question. The answer is simple. Every time you generalise a situation and try to relate it to any of your past experiences, stop yourself then and there. Go back and allow yourself to go through the three step of thinking process. Assess the situation – Derive a conclusion – Respond.
Giving yourself the liberty to go through each situation individually sets you free of the trap quite effectively. Take your time to analyse and then respond. That is another important thing to remember, always ‘respond’ to the situation, do not ‘react’. Reactions are biased and predictable whereas, responses are contemplated actions in themselves, free of any strings attached.
Once you get used to this kind of training of your mind, you will gradually drift away from your mindsets and will start functioning independently, with no preconceived notions and presumptions; and that would be your freedom from your own trap. It might make you a bit uncomfortable as you no longer refer to previous judgements your mind made for you; but remember, this very discomfort is the call to set yourself free.
Your mind is like a mouse trap. There is freedom of thoughts in there, just like the free cheese in the mouse trap; but just like the mice in there are not happy, you too are not happy with all the muck and slush created by the whirlpool of your thoughts. So take the plunge and set yourself free. Remember, you are confined only by the walls your mind builds around you.