My True North | “When you change your mind, you change the (your) world” from the musical Kinky Boots, soon to be debuting in London
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“When you change your mind, you change the (your) world” from the musical Kinky Boots, soon to be debuting in London

When I was in New York recently with my husband, we went to see the musical Kinky Boots. One of the songs performed has the above title. I could not help but smile when I heard these profound words being uttered at the end of this spectacular show.  I first heard these words another way:  We can only ever experience our thinking. Our thoughts create our perception of reality, of what is  “out there”, and therefore, as our thinking changes, our perception of reality, of what is “out there”, changes too.’  Put even more simply, the only way we can know life is via thought, which fluctuates constantly. We are therefore only ever one thought away from a whole new perception, or experience, or reality, or world. And therefore: ‘when you change your mind you change your world’. 

The implications of this are many and varied; but here, I want to share one particular aspect of it:  the value of emptying our minds of the thoughts that we have about ourselves.  We are encouraged, indeed, expected to define ourselves from a very young age…. and society requires it too.  I remember when my own children were around 3 years of age I would engage in endless discussions with other parents about the type of children we had and what school would therefore be most appropriate for them.  I remember finding these debates most peculiar for two reasons:  where I had grown up (Port Elizabeth, South Africa) there had really only been one school which we all went to irrespective of ability, so nobody ever had to enter into this discussion.  This debate was foreign to me.  The other was that academically I was a late bloomer, and I knew many others like me too. So trying to decide what type of child my 3 year old was felt wrong, somehow. (This has proved correct with not just one of my children, but two – however that is a blog for another day!) But when in Rome (or rather London), do as the Romans do; and so I engaged in the debate.  This prompted me to ask of them, as I had of myself over time:  ‘what kind of a child are you?  Are you shy, responsible, moody, capable, silly, academic, “not that bright”, reticent, apprehensive?’  As adolescents and young adults these questions continue, gaining momentum: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?  What kind of a life do you envisage for yourself? What are your dreams, your goals, your ambitions, your aspirations?  What is your political leaning, your view, your opinion, your standing?’  Then in your twenties comes the big one, the existential one:  ‘WHO AM I?’ This existential dilemma seems to be exacerbated when we become employed, be it as a model, lawyer, accountant or executive.  And it becomes so easy to lose sight of the fact that what we do is not who we are.

I have discovered that having a definition of ourselves, creating a self image that we have to live up to, validate, protect, fight for, justify and prove is more than just unnecessary,  it is limiting and it is quite naturally alienating too.  It leads to judgment, comparisons, insecurity, to a “you” and a “me”, an “us” and “them”. And of course, being thought, it is all made up!  We can develop new self images and definitions of ourselves just as soon as we change our minds. And we believe those to be true too … until we don’t.   And so, being able to empty my mind of everything I thought I knew about myself, of the old, stale, habitual, contaminated, ill-fitting thoughts that no longer suited me (like those jeans I bought in a moment of madness last season or six kilograms ago) was the mental equivalent of losing 10 pounds. I am no longer ” the kind of person who ….” but rather, I just AM.

So, how is it possible to “ditch” our definition of ourselves?  And if we are in the free flow of thinking and the free flow of life, what prevents us from free fall? The answer is simple: We are ALL born with innate health, well-being, resiliency and wisdom.  It is part of the package.  It is the “batteries included”.  They are always there and can be relied upon, even if it does not feel that way.  Like the sun in the English sky: even when it cannot be seen or even felt for grey clouds and gloomy mist, nobody would ever doubt that it is there. It is, even when it cannot be seen or felt.  This constant access to wisdom, being hidden by the chatter in our heads, allows us to be responsive in the moment rather than reactive; reacting out of habit, insecurity or by rote.  This response is more intuitive and far more authentic. It means we don’t have to subscribe to a parenting , partnering or political philosophy.  We call it like we see it in the moment.

In the Missing Link ( pg 50), Sydney Banks  states “Amongst the greatest gifts given to us are the powers of free thought and free will, which gives us the stamp of individuality, enabling us to see life as we wish.  These same gifts can also be the greatest weakness of humanity.  We often lack the strength to change our mind, so we get stuck in the negative thoughts and behaviours of the past”

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