Blog Post #2: What are Mental Violations?

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You’ve heard me mention the phrase numerous times, but I haven’t explained why it’s so important that I wrote an entire book in its name. Our mind is without a doubt the greatest gift we’ve ever been given. Let’s not waste valuable time contemplating the unanswerable question of who gave it to us, or why we were given the gift of consciousness; it was simply given to us and now we have to figure out what to do with it. Our mind is what makes us or breaks us, it gets us paid, gets us laid and allows us to live a fulfilling life of purpose and happiness, or it makes us so miserable that we decide to end it all. Committing suicide is about as logical as being given a Ferrari, and then lighting it on fire because we don’t know how to drive a manual transmission. Yes, there’s a learning curve we must deal with; just because we own a Ferrari doesn’t mean we know how to operate it like a Formula 1 driver.

Think of your mind as a machine, because that is pretty much what it is. Our mind is the most powerful machine that humanity has ever attempted to understand and operate. Like every other tool that exists, proper maintenance and operating procedures are absolutely crucial for proper performance. “Mental Violations” are our personal collection of hindrances standing in the way of our optimal operational capacity, or rather, the wrenches we’ve unintentionally thrown into our engines. Some of these violations include but are not limited to (and not listed in any specific order): our preconceived notions, our default camera settings of confirmation bias, our search for acceptance, bad choices, peer pressure, negative thinking, depression, envy, jealousy, anger, hatred, stress, anxiety, obsession, regret, lack of confidence, laziness, lack of motivation, boredom/stagnation, poor diet, health problems, and various different kinds of addictive poisons.

We can’t fix the problem if we don’t know what’s broken. Making a real change starts by being honest with yourself; I can’t fix it for you, I can only help you help yourself. If you’re having problems in life, you need to figure out what’s causing them. As I believe I’ve adequately illustrated, I’ve had my fair share of problems in the past. They never got better on their own, in fact, they kept getting worse and worse until the day I admitted to myself I had some problems I needed to work on instead of blaming them on everyone and everything but myself.

life isn’t always progress. Motivation comes in spurts, and life’s problems sometimes feel a bit like you’re playing “Whac-A-Mole” at an arcade; when you fix one problem another pops up. Eventually you’ll find yourself taking more and more steps forward before having to take one back, but there’s always going to be bumps along the way.

I’m not promising you, nor am I claiming that I have all the answers to life’s struggles, but what I can say with confidence is that I’ve learned a lot of things that aren’t the answer. I’ve also learned quite a few things that have helped me deal with my Mental Violations; one of the most important was learning to be honest with myself. The day I took responsibility for my problems was the day I metaphorically went from riding public transportation to racing Formula One. Taking responsibility for your life is the first step to learning how to drive your new Ferrari. Eventually you’ll feel more comfortable as you work your way toward driving in the fast lane, but in order to do so safely, it requires total awareness of your surroundings; you’ve got to learn how to look over your shoulder before changing lanes to make sure your Mental Violations aren’t hiding in your blind spot. Find them and work towards conquering them, accepting the fact that they will require some routine maintenance along the way. Those who strive to better themselves will remain a work in progress until the day they die, but if we work hard enough to become the best versions of ourselves possible, our dreams start turning into reality.