Entrenched Thinking: Are you a Prisoner of Your Own Mind

I was in Kerala recently and saw a mighty elephant living life of a slave to a lean timid man. I started to wonder how mighty elephants are tamed by relatively tiny and powerless creatures, Human Beings. Why do elephants lead lives in slavery when they have all the strength to overpower their masters and break-free?

Similarly, ever wonder why as children we had bigger and wilder dreams while as adults we are more ‘practical’ and live in set patterns?  Have you ever given up on an ambition or idea because you thought you couldn’t do it?

For a moment, give it a thought, what drove you to that decision… your friends, your family or your own belief system.

If you answered yes, to any of the questions above, you are in for a story about how elephants are tamed.

An Elephant that is captured as a baby is tied to a tree with the help of a rope. The baby elephant instinctively tries with all his might to break the rope but unable to do so because it is not yet strong enough. Realizing his efforts are futile, it finally gives up trying. Upon trying and failing many times, it would stop trying. Later, when the elephant is fully grown, it can be tied to a small tree with a thin rope. It can then easily free itself by uprooting the tree or breaking the rope. But because its mind has been conditioned by its prior experiences, it doesn’t make any attempt to break free. The powerfully gigantic elephant has limited its present abilities by the limitations of the past and by seeing the other elephants living similar lives.

Well, this is called entrenched thinking.

Sounds fancy, right?

In simple terms, entrenched thinking is when we are hard-wired into a particular limiting thought process due to our past experiences. Based on what has been taught to us by our parents, the insecurities that we have developed within ourselves and some past failures, we have trained our minds to think within a safe passage and aim for things that are within our reach. We have accepted our ‘limitations’ even at a sub-conscious level. We become prisoners of our minds and thus keep getting entangled in our patterns. This ‘entrenchment’ happens at a level that is so deep-rooted that it begins to play its role in all areas of our lives and curtails our ability to lead lives of abundant happiness.

Just like the elephant in the story above, we fail to realise our abilities. But, is there a way to reprogram these thoughts and challenge our already existing assumptions, not just to put in the pieces of one problem but also future experiments?

The good news is that there are some techniques to break those old patterns. Here they are:

Do you Audit yourself? – Take a moment to check your vision for your life. Verify your aspirations. If your vision and aspirations are not above ordinary, then it’s time to tell yourself that you are a prisoner of your own mind. It means you are busy ‘just surviving’. As organisms blessed with cognition and intelligence, ‘just surviving ‘is not fun. Go ahead, question your belief system and go for abundance, go for excitement.

Do you talk to yourself? – Most of us are good at finding fault in what others are saying. Now, we constantly talk to ourselves. Do we know well enough whether we are pushing us up or pulling ourselves down with our self-talk? It is important to be mindful of our internal dialogue and have an internal motivator and a critic whenever we are telling ourselves to settle for less in life.

When did you fail last? – When was the last time you failed while trying to do something big or new? If it was not very recent, realise that you are drenched in entrenched thinking. All of us are bound to fail sometimes when we try to punch above our weights or try something new. It is the excitement of trying, the emotional experiences those successes or failures generate that make our lives emotionally rich. Otherwise, life can be so bland.

We would agree to the fact that the mind is a complex network and the human brain never runs out of finding problems. There are numerous instances when our mind is unable to recognize our hidden potential and the opportunities around us if we do not train our minds with the above mentioned questions.

This lack of efforts to constantly break-free from self-imprisonment does not allow us to experience our life to the fullest, thus compelling us to live a life of mediocrity, by becoming blind to all the opportunities around us to create deep and lasting happiness. Hence, we need to reprogram the auto-response in our brain by building new pathways, and strengthening the ones we use most often. Scientists usually like to put it this way – “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”

Mentioned above are some wonderful strategies that you can adopt to shed the old restrictive patterns and construct new liberating ones. From reducing your stress and anxiety levels to helping you rebuild your confidence, self-esteem and boost your happiness quotient; these techniques are worth giving a try.


Richest Man on the Planet wants to move to another Planet!

The world is ending!

Okay, not really, but it IS in a critical stage. And it is not because of global warming or dangerous pandemics, even though those seem to be quite potential too.

Elon Musk, the richest man on Earth (he is quickly swapping places with Jeff Bezos, who is also on a similar mission), is worried more about an all-ending war – a World War III. And with the kind of nuclear weapons and the cold (and some not so cold) tensions we see, this sounds plausible. So, Elon Musk wants to send a crew of a million people to Mars, just in case we end up all killing each other. The red planet will harbor a community with better ambitions and would be conducive to lead a happy life – at least, that’s the plan, or should I say hope?

Why is life-on-earth so complicated?

With the increasing population, pollution, and aspiration of this fast-forwarding world, it is only natural that so many nations are at the throat of each other. It is no less stressful at the individual level as well. Unlike the olden days of farming and gathering, now we have a ton of more things to worry about – job, tax, insurance, social validation, security for your survivors, retirement plans, and let’s not forget the ever-mutating viruses. There’s barely any time to relax or introspect.

But how did we get here? We make new gadgets, amend the bills, chop down forests to make cities – all so that we can make our lives better, easier. But all our privileges have somehow been intertwined, and now it’s a huge mess that we can’t escape. From that standpoint, the vision of a new life on Mars does sound tempting – the chance to do it again, to do it better, in simpler but more effective ways.

Would life-on-mars be better?

Practically speaking, life on Mars would be anything but a cakewalk. The community on Mars will have to learn a lot, endure a lot, and may even have to give their life in the process. This community will not be the ‘privileged rich’. It will be an army of survival soldiers carrying the seed of humanity to promise it’s existence. This life is not for the weak-hearted. As per Musk’s plan, only 0.014% of today’s population would make it into the team. It would be a challenge like nothing humankind has ever faced before.

But yes, if we do succeed in this mission, generations later, there’s hope – hope for a better tomorrow. The sci-fi TV series Pandora shows us one version of ‘tomorrow’. But Elon Musk envisions the new community to have direct democracy and amazing bars.

What are your visions about the new community? What are your thoughts for happy life on the new planet? If you get a chance, would you board that ship to Mars? Let us know in the comments below!