Guard your mind

You know how in Christian circles pastors will preach sermons about the importance of guarding your heart? It’s important, and being that February is hearts ‘n flowers month, I was thinking about that topic for a post on here.

However, in all 31 years I’ve been Earthside, my heart all by itself hasn’t been the only thing that needed guarding.

That’s not to say guarding your heart/being careful who or what you get involved with isn’t important advice. Like it or not, if you find yourself involved with a bad actor, that can be an open door to things or people that would change the trajectory of your life for the worst. (In other words: two forms of contraceptives at all times. It is hearts ‘n flowers month you know.) So you’ve got to be a little guarded during those initial phases to protect your emotions and determine if the situation/person is worth your time and involvement.

However, I really think there needs to be a slight addendum to “guard your heart.” Specifically, the new saying should be “guard your mind then your heart.” I may not have been alive all that long, but 31 years is long enough to notice some things. One of those being that what too many folks call “love” are really fears (of being alone or unloveable), unrealized dreams, unresolved trauma or low self-esteem from you being sick of you, so if you have someone else, that attachment can somehow make you better.

Those aren’t emotions. Those are signs of some training or trauma of the mind that need immediate attention.

As a result of the inner child work I’m doing, I’ve become a very firm believer that the mind can open the door to the heart. In other words, what we already believe or have started to believe will influence our emotions, what we’re willing to accept in our own lives and generally think about the world around us. I’ll use myself as an example, and this is honestly a goofy example, but here it goes: the guy I was very briefly seeing last year once sent me a meme from a meme page he follows. It was – oh, what’s a classy way to put this? – licentious. Licentious to the point of feeling like you need to put down the phone and take a shower after what you’ve just read.

The meme itself wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but the account as a whole is a mix of shock value, gross-out sexual humor, gym memes that can be harmless or ick, and some questionable jokes about women that may not reach the levels of blatant misogyny, but if someone said any of that in real life, a woman with a healthy dose of self-respect with quietly exit stage left.

The guy is long gone, but I must admit I’m human and can’t resist a dumpster fire, so I’ve checking the account regularly to see if this thing could get any worse. I’ve also started reading the comments section out of morbid curiosity. The short answer: low can always go lower.

Now here’s the part about the importance of guarding one’s mind. Due to the comments section on the page as well as some other websites I’ve visited, and having experiences with men who – at face value – don’t like women, I found myself feeling down about any romantic or relational prospect I might try to pursue one day. If the under-40 crowd are genuinely that anxious, lonely, unhappy and incensed towards women as a whole, is it even worth trying to date? So far the answer has been no and I’m more than happy to wait for an emotionally healthy man, but seeing how many men in my generation seem to hold some gross, scornful, misogynistic views of All Women Everywhere, it’s pretty easy to believe that my chances of finding a match are slim to none.

But then I realized I was failing my own rule about guarding my mind. First off, an echo chamber is rarely representative of the world as a whole. Keyboard gangsters are always louder online, but in person don’t have a quarter of the cojones they do in the comments section. So judging men or society as a whole based off some jacked up individuals online or from someone I knew briefly in college being an abusive jerk is foolish on my part. It’s not healthy, it doesn’t position me to evaluate people and situations from a place of strength and wisdom, and it definitely isn’t helping to manage depression.

Secondly, guarding your mind involves not looking at dumpster fires in the first place and knowing when to run for the hills. In addition to being unpleasant to look at it or catch a whiff of, it’s very easy to start looking at dumpster fires and normalizing them if that’s all you’ve ever seen.

I’m going to be real here. Remember when I mentioned the role training or trauma plays in what people call “love?” It’s so easy for adults who haven’t acknowledged and started working on inner child wounds to gravitate towards people or situations that are horrible for us because abusive and dysfunctional relationships are normal to us. It’s what we know. I can’t tell you how many times in college I got involved and tried dating guys who either didn’t want me – and because I knew this on a subconscious level, I figured this meant I was safe from being vulnerable and having that used against me one day – or who were outright abusive, insecure bullies because if nothing else, the bully was consistent and I don’t particularly like surprises.

Allison at 31 cringes at Allison between 19 and 22, although I am glad that I didn’t go far enough to actually regret anything.

So my friends, the heart is important and needs guarding. But the heart really isn’t the first and most important line of defense. If anything, the heart is the princess in the tower. There’s a siege on the castle and she’s staying up there for her own safety while the battle wages on. But the most important thing, the castle with the moat, the cannons and the fortifications that can’t be allowed to fall? That’s the mind. If your fortress was built up on solid ground (a stable, healthy family unit in a healthy environment) then all you need to do is periodically check the doors and windows to make sure they’re in proper working order.

But if the foundation of the fortress was built on shaky ground or has some significant cracks, call the contractor and get that working properly again. You may have to abandon the old fortress entirely and rebuild entirely from a stronger, better location. Inspect every stone before laying it. Interview a new chief of the guards, pick the best protectors to guard the land, refill the most that’s been empty and stagnant. Maybe even toss a goldfish in the water and buy some shrubberies to put out front. Get that fortress back to working order for the princess.

Reader-friends, you are too precious to be abused, exploited or subjected to malicious actors. Guard your mind from anything and anyone who would distort how you view yourself and the world around you, and guard your heart so you can flourish and enjoy your time on Earth. You’ve got a friend and an encourager over here.

Yours in reading, running and life,


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