If there’s such a character as the devil I think I’ve found it in the formless beast that is my thinking mind. That bleepin’ bleep has kept me up well past my bedtime, stressed my sleep thin till dawn, then woke me in a haze of worry. For what?

I know you know the feeling. It’s that conversation earlier in the day that felt not-quite-right, the one we’re still analyzing and for no good reason.

Those words you said and/or heard, and the speculation that follows about the other person’s perception of it all — and of you. The mind’s swirl for hours, even days, rehashing what happened. Inching a bit further off-center of truth with each pass, twisting you up.

That monkey mind is the enemy if there is one. It sweats us, beats us down, makes us feel insecure, and like it’s our only hope for surviving the desert it put us in. It’s Stockholm Syndrome stirred from within our own skulls.

And now better than ever I’m equipped with tools to work through these devilish times. I know how to breathe, to meditate, to build myself up with all that I am rather than let the ego’s feigned hurts control me.

I connect with the lessons and tools of yoga for just these moments when life feels off-kilter. I also have started experimenting with emotional freedom techniques (tapping).

Yet it still is such a tough battle that I can be thrown for days, lose sleep and feel off in my relationships, with myself and others.

In a recent case, I even emailed the person I hadn’t actually aggrieved. A clarification and effort to make it all OK. Then I second-guess and worried about that. It’s an old habit to reach out rather than sit with my discomfort and know that I’m just fine within myself, whatever their story of me might be. Intentions matter.

By sending that unnecessary email, I attached my emotional stability to his response. When I got his response and all was well, I felt better. Then I was bothered by the fact I let that external event be what released me from my anxiety.

Why did I let someone else determine my well-being? It occurred to me I surrendered trust in myself when I let my ego, my thinking mind, run me.

I further disempowered myself when I put my sense of OKness in another’s hands, giving him the power to decide whether I’d wronged, whether I should continue to worry and diminish myself, or move forward with a joyful day.

It’s about people-pleasing, really, saying only if that other person is OK with me I can be OK with me. How self-hurtful. How self-diminishing.

Margaret M. Lynch says in her book, Tapping Into Wealth, “People-pleasing says loudly, ‘I don’t deserve!’” It says I don’t deserve to be me, to know I’m whole and enough without someone else’s permission.

The thinking mind. It wants so much to work us up and spin us around, to confuse us and make us wonder, doubt, fear and cling to it like it knows best, and cling to others’ views of us like they know the answers. It wants to break us down and control our hearts, our relationships, our being.

If there are the polarities of good and evil, right and wrong, it exists as the heart versus the ego-driven mind. One’s about freedom, the other oppression. That incessant whirl of thoughts runs us down so we feel like we need to cling to it for support. We don’t.

Those tight vibrations in the chest and lost hours rehashing self-limiting beliefs? They make us unwitting accomplices. They make us forget the simplest and most effective antidote against it all is to breathe.

The struggle is real, y’all. That thinking mind is a devil of a foe. Breathe.

Bio: I write about humanness and connection, yoga and creativity. I collect and share wisdom on these topics through Humanitou conversations. I write poetry, make photographs and teach yoga. The most challenging and critical of all: I’m a dad to two sons.

unsplash-logoAarón Blanco Tejedor