Sat | Feb 17, 2018

Bridling your mind

Published:Sunday | May 29, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Is there something on your mind that challenges and bothers you?

It is important to appreciate that the very difficulties we face will help us to grow and mature. Just as by lifting heavy things we develop our muscles, we need challenges to build mature minds.

If we can bring our mind under control, we will move more closely to the kind of persons we want to be. Our mindset determines who we are. What we say and do come from what we think.

Let me introduce the 'prompter' that lives in our heads.

This prompter sends us signals that prompt the things we think, say and do. Training the prompter to send the messages and suggestions that we really want is the secret to successful living.

This requires courage, commitment, perseverance and watchfulness.

One key thought that might help in bridling your mind is this:

There are things that the prompter does not present to us. For example, if you are left alone in a room with a wallet, you might not be tempted to take money from it. That is because you have already taught the prompter that you are not interested in stealing. The prompter only brings things to you that it knows are still in active consideration.

The things that come to mind regularly are there because you have not excluded them definitively. Your prompter has been encouraged to take the time to send those signals because of how it has seen you think, act and talk. Your prompter has no time to waste producing signals that are not going to be used.

Fact of life: The things that we are tempted to think, say and do are based on the equivalent of our social media profile - our likes.

How the prompter works is that if you abuse alcohol, maybe you would like to try ganja ... and after ganja, what about cocaine?

We create the conditions that open the paths for the prompter to follow.

Our thoughts, the company we keep, and the things we get involved in, are actually setting up our prompter to produce the signals that guide us.

It cannot be overstated - we must control our thoughts and our minds. If we don't bring them under control, they will get us in trouble.

We need to totally ignore many of the things the prompter is presenting. We also need to introduce new behaviours that we want to incorporate in our lives. We cannot afford to be careless about what goes into our minds and how we respond to what comes up in our thoughts.


Ideas from the environs

Our prompter gets a lot of ideas of what to show us from the things around us. This includes the movies we watch; the company we keep (and what they say and do); the material we read (or do not read); the things we listen to and the things we fail to hear.

This concept of the prompter helps us to better understand things like peer pressure. The group actively seeks to train the prompters of its members. Groupers do A and not B. Behave like this or be excluded.

That is why we have such an awesome responsibility on parents and caregivers. Children come with clean prompters. However, their prompters are hungry for information. They soak up what they see and hear around them. That is the information their prompters use to prepare the signals they send to our children.

The child's behaviour is a reflection of what has been introduced into their prompter, and the care we have taken to teach them which prompts to ignore. Prompter training goes beyond potty training. Beyond childhood, we all help influence the prompters of those with whom we interact. Be careful.

Keys to prompter training:

Bypass undesirable prompts. Do not link any emotional response to them. Emotions tend to reinforce behaviours. Just ignore them.

Read, listen, meditate, visualise and celebrate replacement thoughts, words and deeds. Immerse yourself in healthy experiences. Change your relationships, if necessary. Integrate yourself in groups that reinforce positive behaviour. Stay alert!

• Trevor E. S. Smith is a behaviour modification coach with the Success with People Academy. Send feedback to: