Five Ways Our Mind Trips Us Up and How To Change That.

Mind Trips

In my last article, I invited you to join me in celebrating the amazing capabilities of our mind.

Thank you so much for all your love, comments and engagement!

In response to all your invaluable comments, I decided this week to write an article that addresses what is on your mind: Why does our “untamed” mind lead us to behaviors that trip us up and what can we do about it?

By “untamed mind” I mean the thought processes that we habitually engage in based on past experiences although they sabotage us today.

Are you frustrated with any habitual thought patterns that sabotage your relationships, your career/finances, or your health? Why not consider guiding your mind to take alternative pathways so that you can arrive at different destinations?

Your mind may be distorting your view of reality and tripping you up without your even realizing it.

The truth about our mind’s involvement in self sabotage. – It is not your fault!

  • Our thought patterns are very powerful, but have been established through experiences we had no influence over.
  • Our mind has been trained to take certain pathways to make sense of challenging aspects of life and help us cope with the internal discomfort that accompanies them.
  • Threatening thoughts, (mind trips) place us in a compromised state because they activate our fear circuitry.
  • Our wise mind shuts down and our body systems veer off balance to address the perceived “threat”.
  • We then grasp for any ways to activate the reward centers in our brain and release “feel good” hormones, to mitigate the sense of unease.
  • Our pathways to rewarding activities that have also been set in our past, may or may not be aligned with our current goals.

Food may be a pleasurable, rewarding activity for someone like me, raised in the Mediterranean, where so many positive values are cultivated around the dinner table.  However, allowing food to be the default pattern of reward center activation during stressful times may over time lead to obesity.

Eliminating the thought patterns leading to Self-Sabotage is within our control.

It is not our fault if the thinking patterns and reward activation pathways which were established in the past do not serve us today.

However, it is within our control to change those patterns in the present.  

We can carve new thinking and reward activation pathways and displace the “defaults” which  consistently mess things up for us.

Here is what you can do next time you feel an internal thought-based discomfort and you are considering an action that sabotages your goals:

  1. Pause– Challenge the thought, its origin and the trigger.
  2. Ask– What it is that I really need right now? Often when we binge watch Netflix we try to numb our unmet need for connection and support.
  3. Choose– Replace old thought with a new alternative thought and rewarding activity that is aligned with your values today.

Trick your way out of Five Common Mind Trips

Here are some suggestions on ways to trick your mind out of five very common mind trips that mess things up for many of us, although they are not based on reality.

  • Mind Trip # 1 — “I am not good enough.”

Sometimes we confuse our behavior with our quality as a person, leading to inadvertent self-doubt and self-criticism. For example, notice the difference between “I am a failure” as opposed to “I fail sometimes.”

You are not your behavior. You can choose to change your behavior if it is not serving you well.

 Trick your mind out of this Mind trip by resting your attention on this thought instead:

You are perfect just the way you are and you have all that you need to meet and exceed every one of your goals in every area of your life. This does not mean that you do not have room for growth. You can use every mishap, moment of self-doubt, or encounter with your inner critic as  guides to uncover qualities that YOU would like to cultivate.

You are more than enough. I think it’s about time you embrace this!


  • Mind trip # 2 — “Material things will increase my value as a person.”

We literally kill ourselves to reach a six-figure income level, buy a certain brand of car, or upgrade our home. Yet research is clearly showing that beyond a certain income level, ($75,000/annually), wealth and assets have no impact on our happiness. 

Trick your mind out of this Mind trip by resting your attention on this thought instead:

No material asset will make you more amazing than who you already are. When you catch yourself worrying about the size of your bank account, consider instead the astonishing thirty-seven trillion cells at your disposal to manifest abundance in your body, mind, and environment.

An imbalance in your bank account simply requires your attention in determining how you will go about increasing the deposits and minimizing the withdrawals. But increasing your wealth will have no impact on increasing your sense of self-worth.

Only you can improve your sense of self-worth by using your mind to reinstate balance in your life. From that calm and centered state you can access your body’s amazing resources for greatness.


  • Mind trip # 3 — “I can’t help the way I am. I was born this way.”

As George Elliot said, “Its never too late to become who you are meant to be”.

Your brain shapes your mind and your mind shapes your brain throughout your life.

In essence, whatever your mind rests upon becomes your reality.

Advanced imaging techniques now allow us to see from the inside exactly how our thoughts shape our brain and hence our reality.

Trick your mind out of this Mind trip by resting your attention on this thought instead:

 Where you choose to rest your attention induces the growth of different brain regions. Different brain regions are associated with traits and characteristics, some of which are positive and some negative. When you‘re dealing with a challenging situation, if your attention goes to feeling helpless, the neurons in the region of the brain that register helplessness will fire and wire together. This then strengthens the pathway to feeling helpless. When something becomes problematic, why not acknowledge the complexity of the problem and simply ask, “How can I solve this riddle?” Asking your brain to come up with the resources to solve problems is key. This redirects your energy and activates the problem-solving region of your brain, as opposed to the region that registers defeat. You can change any traits that you don’t like about yourself that you inherited from your environment. You can do so by consciously choosing to focus your attention on experiences that cultivate traits you would like to enhance instead.

And yes, my friend, your mind has the power to do that.


  • Mind trip # 4 — “Others will not like me if I let them see my vulnerabilities.”

We spend a whole lot of our energy hiding our humanness in an effort to be admired and respected more. We can witness this behavior in elementary school students all the way to our current political leaders. However, adopting the fake belief that perfection equals power deprives us of our real power—the power of connection.

Trick your mind out of this Mind trip by resting your attention on this thought instead:

You are an amazing, complex system with a myriad of strengths and vulnerabilities. However, part of being human involves having characteristics that have room for improvement. This can  threaten our feeling of needing to belong. Fear activates our stress response, which shuts down the part of our brain that helps us relate to others. 

The best way out of this trap of fear is to resist your tendency to let fear isolate you. Why not respond to fear by opening up to someone you trust? Andadd a hug while you’re at it. Human contact induces the release of oxytocin, a wonder chemical with so many positive effects. Why not focus your attention on the power of your body’s oxytocin to reduce your perception of fear and increase feelings of safety and trust?

A hug is a wonderful way to soothe the internal discomfort of feeling vulnerable. It is also a powerful way to train your mind and brain to keep your relational center open to connection— one hug at a time.


  • Mind trip # 5 — “My problems are not my fault.”

Do you blame your former spouse or your manager for your lack of career advancement? Do you attribute your debt to the economy? For many of us, our mind trips us up into wasting our energy blaming someone else for our reality when that reality is not the one we wished for.

 Trick your mind out of this Mind trip by resting your attention on this thought instead:

You are 100% the creator of your reality. The beginning of getting your power back is the realization that you, and only you, have control over your circumstances. If you are not where you would like to be, it’s time to take charge.

The mind map technique.

Here is a technique that you can use to begin this process. You can create a “mind map” of where you are compared to where you want to be. You will need a blank sheet of plain paper and three pens with different colored inks, green, red, and orange. Using the green color, jot down a list of all the things that you do that help you get to your desired destination. Using the red color, jot down a list of all the things that you do that hinder you from getting to your desired destination. Review your lists and then using the orange color, jot down one or two things that you can commit to doing every week that will help you get to your target. Make sure to focus only on things that are within your control.

Each one of those small things, repeated over time, will slowly but surely help you create the life you wish for.

Final thoughts

Although your mind is simply the focus of your attention, it has a lot of power.

Your thoughts are responsible for how you feel and how you act.

Your thoughts are also responsible for the architecture of your brain, which determines how resilient you are.

Thus, if you are unsatisfied with any aspect of your life, you can begin to make changes with the power of your mind.

When you catch yourself engaging in actions that do not support you, pause, question your motivation and make a new choice. In this way, you actually begin building a new pathway to feeling good during difficult times that eventually will all together displace the defaults that trip you up.

Switching the focus of your attention will not only improve the way you feel in the moment, but you will also begin to carve a new path, using your mind, to take you to where you want to be.

If you need a guide to hold a lamp to light your way down your path to re-uniting with your best self, I am here for you. You can contact me at tzeli@myndzen.comto set up a free consultation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *