DISASSOCIATING WITH THE MIND, EMOTIONS, AND THOUGHTS
NOT TRITE OR SMALL OR ETHEREAL, BUT HUGELY AFFECTING
It has been "frustrating" for me to try to make this clear - to others, and firslty, of course, to myself. (And, I see that even my phrasing of this suggests that I am not the cause of it, or the chooser of it as a strategy to address not succeeding...)
IDENTIFYING, ASSOCIATING AS IF IT IS US OR WE'RE 'IN IT' MEANS...
When we "identify with" and feel we are "in" something, we are attached to it, as if it were us. If we "identify" with the mind, we think we are it or it is us, so we believe we cannot do other than what it says we should do.
With Barbara, I had tried over and over to persuade her of the idea that she is not her mind, that she is not her "inner child", that she is not a captive of her past and of her mother and being inferior to _____. Over and over I asked her to see A Beautiful Mind, but she was "busy" and would do it later. I failed to be persuasive enough.
I had hoped it might spark a new viewpoint.
This is the essence of the key to stop being a victim (another role people "get into").
"You still think about all you have to do, but when the sense of being overwhelmed kicks in, you regard that thought with dispassion. You think 'Well of course the sense of being overwhelmed is starting to course throughout my brain;, but you step back from it and let it go, realizing that allowing it to hijack your brain won't help." [P. 205, "The Emotional Life Of Your Brain", Richard J. Davidson (neuroscientist)].
NO LONGER 'TRIGGERED BY IT', NO LONGER 'THE VICTIM OF IT'
What occurs is that what had been stressful and anxiety-producing no longer "triggers a feeling of aniety, fear, or fatalistic capitulation." op. cit. I italicize the latter, as it is essentially the giving in, as if one was a victim or product of the mind's thoughts, is the key unhealthy practice/thinking that causes one to continue to have a brain habit of getting caught up in a bioelectrical manifestation (i.e. a thought). The essence here is that we learn that which Buddhists actually will say in their minds while practicing "there is a thought passing through my brain" - the idea that you've heard over and over: "A thought is just a thought. A feeling is just a feeling."
We must stop "overassociating" a mechanical effect (thought, feeling) with some mysterious force having power over us.
[SPOILER ALERT: STOP HERE AND RETURN ONLY AFTER YOU HAVE WATCHED "A BEAUTIFUL MIND"]
THE INCREDIBLY VALUABLE INSIGHT FROM 'A BEAUTIFUL MIND'
At the risk of ruining your experience of watching A Beautiful Mind, I give you my assessment of the significance of it - and I hope you learn to, forever, see that you are separate and that you need not believe all that occurs in a simplistic mechanistic mind.
Basically, he at first totally believes that he is living this other life and that his friend is real. He thinks he is on a mission, where he leaves decoding results of secret messages that are a conspiracy that will hurt all the people in this nation.
Then he discovers (in the process of "therapy") that those things are not real, that they are imaginary and that he need not continue doing those things that are harming his life and his relationship with his wife. The imaginary images and sounds from his brain, however, do not stop. He still sees them, but he simply acknowledges that his mind is making them up and that they are not real - and that he need not obey or reat to them. They simply move to the background and he is more present - and much more happy.
Of course, we think of him as nuts, illusionary. Yes, he is a bit further out, but if we imagine that our minds rule us, that we are our minds, that we must react to thoughts as if they are real, aren't we the same at the core.
A more extensive quote, p. 204, op cit:
"If the habitual response to a setback had been for neuronal signals to travel from the frontal cortex, which figures out the meaning of an experience, to the limbic system, where the amygdala attaches an intense negative emotional valence to that experience, then mindfulness can create a different neuronal pathway The same experience is still processed by the frontal cortex, but the signals do not reach the amygdala (or at least fewer of them do). Instead, they peter out, like a bad mood evaporating during a day when everything seems to go right. The result is that what had been a stressful experience or setback no long triggers a feeling af anxiety, fear, or fataliztic capitualation."