How to make the best of your Mind’s GPS ?
Your mind is like a GPS system that’s been programmed over a lifetime. It can help you get to where you want to get to. It can also get you stuck. If you program it to avoid what you don’t like : rundown streets or traffic jams, you may see only pretty wide open roads, but where will you get to? You also better look through the windshield and not just at its screen, or else you may follow your GPS straight into a lake. Notice how the GPS of your mind claims that the map it shows you is the same as what it maps out. Weirdest of all, it will tell you that it is you. Would you buy a GPS that claimed to be you and set your destination for you?
Don’t let your mind drive you into a lake. Below are four steps to get the best out of the GPS of your mind and make it work for you.
Make sure you first choose a destination toward which you want to go — rather than prioritising what you don’t want to experience or feel. An unpleasant experience naturally makes us seek to avoid it. If there is a path around it, great but make sure it still gets you where you want to get to. Sometimes you can get there smoothly and avoid traffic jams — and sometimes you can’t.
Keep an eye on the windscreen. Sometimes what your mind’s GPS says fits with what else you can experience, and sometimes it doesn’t. Track this as you go along. Notice also what happens over time when you follow your mind’s directions. Did it get you where it said it would get you?
Remember that what your mind tells you about the world is different from your direct experience of the world, just as what you see on your GPS screen is different from what you see around you. Here’s a fun exercise to practice noticing the difference. Pause for a minute and see if you can sort whatever shows up for you moment-to-moment in two categories : five senses experience; and mental or inner experience. Five-senses experience is whatever comes to you through your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, or touch on the outside of your skin. Mental or inner experience is everything else: thoughts, images, feelings, bodily sensations. You could use two cards, one for five senses experience and one for mental experience and simply raise the one that bests fit your experience of the moment. Practice one minute a day and see if you notice a difference.
Finally, don’t let your mind convince you it is you. It is only a part of you. A very sophisticated piece of technology to be sure, but you are the driver. You get to choose where you want to go, and only you can notice when it works to follow what the GPS of your mind says. Don’t believe everything you think and don’t drive blindly on autopilot when it truly matters to you.