Never under duress: Master your environment and mind.


I strained my back during dance class recently and am (sparingly) taking muscle relaxers and painkillers along with doing physical therapy… Which is another way to say I’ve been super drowsy and laying around a lot the past few days.  And after a shocking series of unexpected events, I realized how much my pain, grogginess, and medicine influenced my thinking and behavior.

As if I needed another reason to be convinced I’m in a season of recognizing and changing thought habits for the better.  I’m not fighting it though: Lessons come in all shapes, sizes and sources.

The last few posts here have focused on how important, functional and influential mental rest is; on recognizing the simple truth that what you feed your mind matters.

It matters what you’re taking in.  But also, once you’ve let something into your mind, the way you think, the habits you’ve developed over a lifetime can still turn something perfectly healthy into waste.

Por ejemplo, a pessimist’s outlook vs. an optimist’s.  Or, the way you think when you feel angry or hurt, vs. when you feel happy and relaxed.  Or, the way you think when you know all the information vs. when you know only one side.  Or, the conclusions you draw when you think you’ve dealt with something before, when by definition it’s an altogether new experience… Unless you have a time machine.

The way we think is influenced not only by what mind-food we eat, but what mind-altering environment we find ourselves in whether we consciously chose it or not.

No matter how peaceful, enlightened, and spiritual you are, it is impossible to think clearly while hungry, drunk, sleepy, hurting, rushed, ill-informed, and angry about it to boot.

Along with being intentional about what kind of mind-food you take in, remember your environment matters, and you can choose it.  Be aware of what’s going on within and around you and exercise your control over it.

There’s a reason why contracts executed under duress can be considered illegal:  When you feel forced to make a decision, you are not in your right mind.

Everyday coercion is much less dramatic and much more frequent than you think.  Sometimes it’s thinking you won’t have time, or another opportunity.  Or that you can’t afford to do something differently, or don’t know how to.

Own your thinking.  Dictate what the ideal circumstances are for you to think something through.

You can choose not to feel pressured to act, feel, or make a decision on the spot.  You can choose to rest if you feel tired.  To eat if you feel hungry.  You can choose to relax and reclaim your peace if you feel upset.  You can choose to heal if you’re hurting.  You can choose to see a different perspective and uncover more information.

Sometimes all you need to see a situation clearly is a few seconds of deep breathing and a prayer.

Exercise: Every day, as often as you can, take a minute to interrupt your thinking-no matter how mundane or simple it seems- and just take inventory by asking yourself:

Am I calm?  Am I pressured?  What’s influencing me?  Are my choices limited?  

Then, remind yourself of the reality:

You are limitless.  You are free.  You are at peace.  You already have everything you could ever need.  In this moment, you are everything you can possibly be.  

We have years and years of habit built up.  Take steps every single day toward breaking them down.  Choose what you feed your mind, and choose what you allow to influence your state of mind.

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6 Replies to “Never under duress: Master your environment and mind.”

  1. Be very careful with those awful meds, I love your post but do be careful. I hurt my back six years ago and very quickly became addicted, I am now a recovering IV drug addict, I have a master’s degree in counseling and years of experience counseling at risk youth and schizophrenics…all gone because of those awful drugs…I’m certainly not saying this will happen to you I’m just sharing my experience…great blog!

    1. Thank you so much, for your concern and wisdom. I had stopped taking them when I wrote this, and am mindful of sobriety which is why I noticed the change. I appreciate you.

      1. I’m sorry if I came off as a know it all or anything, I didn’t mean to, I just get very scared when people take those medications. I wish you luck. Blessed be!

      2. Not at all, your intent was clear and much appreciated. Never apologize for doing the right thing. Thank you again. And many blessings to you.

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