Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

My Mind Is Not Always My Friend

My Mind Is Not Always My Friend.gifUm. Before you say, “duh???,” let me just say that the title of this post is the title of a new insightful book by Steven J. Fogel, business leader and Renaissance man, with Mark Rosin. A refreshing combination of psychology tips and motivational themes, the book outlines why our mind goes awry, leading down the slippery slope to depression and anxiety, and how we can try to better hold the reins.



Now if you are so clinically depressed right now that you can’t get out of bed, I don’t think many of the chapters will help you. However, if you are at an okay place, functioning but pretty freaked out about the change that’s going on in your life like I am, well, I appreciated Fogel’s guidelines.

He starts by examining our childhood (Yes, you get to blame mom and pop again … it’s wonderful). He writes:

We are born with no limitation on communicating our feelings and thoughts. A young child speaks without censoring him- or herself, but then something happens and we begin suppressing ourselves; instead of communicating our feelings and thoughts as they occur, we begin holding back.


The “something” that happens is an event that we experience as an emotional trauma. Observed from outside, the event can be large–a death or divorce–or seemingly small–a parental reaction of irritation to something we’ve done–but even an event that looks small from the outside can be emotionally traumatic for a child. How we react to this trauma and to subsequent traumas establishes patterns of behavior that we tend to unconsciously allow to determine our behavior as we react to new events.

True growth starts when we realize that our actions are being triggered by an event that activates old patterns of behavior and we begin to understand which old patterns are being triggered by which particular external catalysts. The key is mindfulness–the mind’s ability to stay conscious–so that we can be aware of how and when our machinery gets triggered. This means that we have to see and understand they ways our machinery reacted to past traumas and the programming that formed at that time, which is still with us.


Fogel goes on to explain how we might recognize our Organizing Principles, the automatic pilot or lens through which we experience things, and the messages we end up shouting to ourselves.

One of the most helpful chapters for me was the one on guiding principles, or truths that can help us transform. Fogel writes:

We have the power to replace or supplement our dysfunctional Organizing Principles–and thereby interrupt our programming and fight our complexes–with new Guiding Principles. These Guiding Principles can help us create the future we want for ourselves by allowing us to consciously choose actions that are not past based and that allow for new possibilities that create aliveness and joy. They allow us to become good parents to ourselves, giving ourselves the guidance, support, and nurturance we need to become the people we want to be.


I use the following Guiding Principles to help me move into the now. I’ve made my mantra:

  • The truth is just the truth.
  • Feelings are not facts.
  • You can’t argue with another’s perceptions.
  • Conflicting feelings can co-exist peacefully until they are coupled with action.
  • Every time something new happens, I go back to my old ways–and I need to snap out of it.
  • Don’t do unto others what you wouldn’t have them do unto you.
  • Don’t stay with familiar pain out of fear of awkwardness or unknown pain.
  • We can put our bad feelings into others, just as they can put their into us.
  • Life is lived in the little things.

Well, those are enough big thoughts for the day. I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes by Shakyamuni Buddha, which Fogel includes before the Preface: “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.


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  • joe gonzalez

    Thank you again, Therese ! You bring excellent material to print that helps out usually more than a visit to the doctor for a serious, but common ailment, pain or specific impairment ! And your power of synthesis is wonderful ! i confess i don’t have the time to read all these wonderful books ( wish i had !) . But the very marrow of the important themes you draw out of them and make available to us on a daily basis is truly and without the least shadow of a doubt, a grand contribution to mankind’s wellbeing. Thank you again, and please keep up the Good Work ! It must be tiresome and cumbersome at times, but with God as your engine, i know we can expect an infinite amount of more aid ! ( Yet, be gentle on yourself…remember Jesus, after a harrowing trial or time, teling His disciples ” let’s go aside for a while and rest ! ” )

  • Jane

    This is reminiscent of both the teaching to align ourselves with natural law described in “The Science of Mind” and the later writing on engrams described in “Dianetics”. It’s nice to see a modern take on this wisdom. I also think reading ideas from different viewpoints and in different contexts makes content even more powerful. This is also some of the underlying teaching found in the “est”, “Lifespring”, and “Insight” trainings, and others that people claim profoundly improved their lives. I think Jesus, Prince Siddhartha, Confucious, Lao Tse, Black Elk, and others intuited this from their experiences with a variety of teachers and “religious” views. The more it goes mainstream, the more available it becomes to everyone.

  • Marie

    Thanks Therese once again for another insightful and extremely helpful post.

  • marymargaret

    My angels are the guards of my mind..they seem to balance the devilish thoughts parading through..
    thanks for sharing another good read, Therese…I must add it to my list of must-reads..

  • Howard

    I know these points are true and I try to remember them. But when you are troubled by your thoughts it is difficult to keep them at bay without the help or encourgement from a friend. It’s hard to stay on track all by yourself when lonliness is the over riding feeling playing over and over in your head.


    I am glad I took time to read this. I need this material very badly. I need other material on drawing lines. Such as; How far do I go with people when the keep acting the same and don’t seem to be learn or to do better. I keep saying what would Jesus do. When would God would stop and leave them to a reprobated mind. Like that’s enough chances. I will try to remember to check you out more. Thank you.

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