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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

You May be Trapped in Your Own Mind

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Jul 22nd 2010

Once in a while I'll take a quote that seems meaningful and explore its implications to daily life. You may know Ralph Waldo Emerson as a philosopher and poet.

He said, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us."

What lies within us is absolutely worth getting curious about. What are the subtle inner workings of our minds and bodies that inevitably lead us into states of stress, joy, calm, anxiety, depression, addictive behavior, among others?

Most of the time we are looking to what lies behind us or before us and not inquiring into the reality of our experiences moment to moment. What would happen if we adopted a curiosity to our felt experience? What would happen if we dropped all our preconceptions and judgments about how we "know" we are and took a fresh look?

I bet you cows that are in trapped in a corral with wired fence that was once electrified would love to have these questions posed to them. Why? Because the fence only needed to be electrified for a short while and the cows only needed to be shocked once or twice before the ranchers decided to save money and turn off the electricity because the cows were now already trapped in their own minds thinking the fence was electrified.

This digs deep down to our beliefs about ourselves and the world and how from time to time it's a good idea to question those beliefs. Are we trapped in our own minds about what is possible in life?

Consider that the most common way we avoid difficulty in the present moment is by escaping up into our head as it runs rampant with these "small matters."

Take a minute or two to just sit with this and see what arises in connection with your life.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.  

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

trapped by your own choices - Alice - Aug 26th 2010

It is true that a learned behaviour can cause one to create your own prison.  The question is whether the conditions that arose to create it in the first place still exist?  If they dont the problem comes in recognising this and changing learned patterns of behaviour and if they do then learning coping strategies to minimise impact.  I am not a shrink but i do have some experience.  I have two parents who have relied on me emotionally from a very early age but in completely different ways and as i got older their controlling stratagies have become more extreme.  I have always lived with the fear that to be other than they want me to be has consequences but not to myself directly.  They have played on my caring and compassionate nature to control my actions, choices and even personality.  Consequently I have developed two, not in a mental disorder way you understand, but as a way to cope with the demand of two fragile minds without having it completely consume me.  My parents arent aware of their actions and the few times the subject has been broached caused them severe distress.  My father is very mentally closed and relies on outward appearence on the inner self, his first memory was secret police taking away his father and he has never confronted the emotions that accompanied that so consequently he has a chronic fear of the ones he loves being taken away.  My mother is emotional and fragile with depression caused, in my opinion, with a stunted career she loved and a difficult marriage.  Both their lives revolve round my happiness but not what makes me happy.  At one point i went out and did my own thing, my mother tried to kill herself and my dad nearly comotosed himself with drink.  Sometimes it is our care for others that traps us and it is our choice that it be so.  I could be callouse and live my own life but it would mean the lives of two people i love falling apart.  Therefore i hold their world together and cultivate my inner self so it doesnt get lost.  I dont look for sympathy, it is my choice, but an article such as this that reminds me to keep myself grounded and to look inside myself, judge fairly and evaluate my decisions is always interesting and as such invauable.

Trapped - Cindy - Jul 23rd 2010

It seems sometimes, I am a leader, in a follower's body.

When your raised w/a passive parent, and then a right on, direct parent, you have a little of both.

Sometimes, your ok with a happening and go with it. Then at other times, you'd like to test the information given.

It makes for a real mixed up person, stubborn and shy, which will it be today. A bit of both in the same day. Would that be the perfect mix? who knows?

ads - - Jul 22nd 2010

too many ads!

Dr. Dombeck's Note: Sorry about that!  I know it can be an eyesore.  We have to pay the rent, is all.  You have choices and I am glad that you're here viewing our material which we strive to make as well as we can.  I hope you will forgive us this tresspass of being a bit littered at times. 

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