December 22 : Our Two-Year-Old Mind

Try and have patience for yourself when your mind is behaving like a twoyear- old. They call it the “terrible twos” because kids around this age begin to understand the notions of “I” and “mine”. Two-year-olds are always going, “This is mine! Not yours.” And, “I like this, I don’t like that.” “So and so started it, I didn’t!” and, “If you don’t give me what I want, I’m gonna have a temper tantrum and disturb the whole family until you give me what I want!” Our mind is still kind of two-years olds, and it goes through all these dramas. We may get fed up with ourselves, thinking, “Oh, I’m so bossy, I’m so terrible, I upset the whole family. I’m just the most awful child in the world.” Then we go back to yelling and screaming at everybody, beat our breasts in regret, and suck our thumbs. This is why sometimes teachings use the term “childish” sentient beings. Little kids do not realise that their behaviour affects other people; they do not have the capacity to think beyond themselves, and sometimes, as adults, we are similar. Rather than become the child when your mind is acting this way, you have to be the adult and have a good talk with your mind like you are talking to a little kid. You can say, “I know you’re upset about this, and want this and that, but grown-ups have to learn how to bear the frustration of not getting what they want, and this is a good time to practise that.”

Another thing kids do not realise when they are acting out and misbehaving is that they are self-sabotaging. You may love them but do not want to be around them when they are screaming and crying, so their behaviour is sabotaging their yearning for good relationships with other people.

It is the same when our self-centred mind takes over and all we think about is “I” and “mine”, and what the world owes us. What we are doing is pushing other people away when we really want to be connected. As we practise the Bodhisattva path and our childish and self-centred mind comes up, remember we are selfsabotaging our deepest spiritual aspirations to cherish other sentient beings more than ourselves and attain full awakening to work for their benefit. Learn to get in 504 | December December | 505 touch with your love and compassion and your Bodhisattva aspiration and say, “This is the one that is important.” The childish mind may be jumping up and down screaming, “Me, me, me, I, I, I, mine, mine, mine,” but we can choose to pay attention to the adult part because it is more reliable. We have got to nourish the adult part of us that can help the childish part grow up and let go of its extraordinary self-centredness in order to attain our goals. It is a bit like learning how to walk — we must build our mental muscles and learn to help ourselves in this way.

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