Jun 28th, 2007 | People
The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators. – Edward Gibbon
How much do you know about your inner self? Do you understand your reactions, emotions and desires? Do you control them or they control you? Your life, present and future depends on you. Your conscious mind tries to do best. But your conscious mind is the tip of the iceberg of you – the most advanced and self serving biological organism. Can you trust that it will do the best for your goals, dreams and plans? No, you can not – if you don’t understand, cooperate and direct your unconscious mind – the real master of you.
In the previous post I shared Buddha metaphor about mind containing a rider and an elephant. The rider is a controlled, sequential and conscious thought, which uses verbal communication of the left side of the brain. The elephant is everything else – our emotions, instincts and intuition, which compromise automated and subconscious behavior of our biological essence.
How to tame and cooperate with your elephant?
There are many psychology theories, religions, thousands of self-help books, approaches like Emotional Intelligence and Neuro-linguistic programming try to answer this question. None of them have receipt that works for all.
However, I believe most people will benefit from these 5 steps:
- Know your elephant
- Recognize and accept it – you are not in the control over your unconscious mind.
- Understand your weaknesses and strong sides – be honest with yourself.
- Have inner talk with yourself / elephant (I hope it doesn’t sound crazy). Meditation and yoga can enhance mutual understanding.
- Find your path
- What do you want? Know and set up your own goals, motivation and plans.
- Convince, induce or bribe your elephant to help with your goals – if he doesn’t agree, you’ll have problems. Try 30 day trials, 30 minutes time boxes or cheat days.
- Reject your goals if your elephant (i.e. emotions, intuition and instincts) is still against them. It doesn’t worth to fight with him. Find what you both like.
- Become an intelligent rider
- Good time management and productivity system (and here) could tame, focus and discipline your elephant. In short, structure your time, set up simple Next Actions and use self-imposed deadlines. You should have a pull system, where each next step is easy, clear and inevitable.
- Know and use your emotions (easy, isn’t it?)
- Strive for small victories – accomplished tasks will make your elephant more compliant.
- Keep the rider and the elephant in a good shape
- Go beyond your own elephant
- Surprisingly, other people have elephants inside too. Recognize and accept them.
- Make social bonds with other people, love them – we are social creatures and our elephant need others for survival.
- Find the real meaning in your life – and you’ll live in harmony with your elephant – your unconscious mind. Ask yourself: How your today life will look like when you are 100 years old? What was important and what was waste in your life? What did you achieve?
It is not a simple task for the rider to tame and cooperate with this wild, unpredictable and self-will animal inside you. But if you do this, you’ll control and enjoy your life… and become a better programmer.
Good luck, and say hello to your elephant!