How To Completely Master Your Mind

In this article: Learn how you can take utmost control of your mind and break free to become your own boss.

Most people dream about having more control over their lives and stepping out on faith to become their own boss. However, very few people actually go on to do those things. Most people remain submissive to the influence or control of another person and entity and spend much of their lives feeling helpless and hopeless. 

So, what separates most people from those select few who are able to break free, claim control, and become their own boss? This article aims to outline skills and practices that will aid you in taking control of your life so that you can be your own boss and pursue your goals. 

Define Your “Why”

An essential element of taking control and becoming your own boss is establishing a “why.” Establishing a reason for what you are doing serves as motivation so you will continue working towards your goals. In his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, psychiatrist Dr. Viktor Frankl wrote about his experience surviving concentration camps during World War II. In his book, he looked at the driving force behind why some men were able to survive the concentration camps and why others gave up and tried to take their own lives. 

He deciphered that the primary factor for survival was whether they had a reason (why) to survive. Those who had a why, such as the belief that their family was waiting for them, seemed to develop superhuman ability to endure their circumstances in the midst of such horror (Frankl, 1985). 

While most of us will not be in such dire situations, developing a “why” of our own helps us to navigate through challenges and obstacles we may face as we work towards certain goals. Our personal “whys” will give us the strength to keep going when the going gets tough.

Think Independently

Thinking independently is our ability to process and analyze information and situations free from outside influences. The University of Alabama defines independent thinking as ” the process of making sense of the world based on your own observations and experiences rather than depending on the word of others”(Zimmerman, 2016). This first means being aware of potential outside influences and then taking the necessary measures to separate ourselves from those influences so that we can truly think for ourselves. 

Independent thinking is a valuable asset that helps us to discern information we see or hear, as well as allowing us to be able to question values and assumptions. Adopting this skill is critical to taking control of our lives and becoming our own bosses. 

It is only when we are willing to challenge the way things currently are and push against the grain that we can step out from under the control of others and begin making decisions for ourselves and our lives. 

In order to think independently, we must first identify the outside influences that might be shaping our thoughts. This means taking the time to examine the opinions and ideas that have originated from others, versus yourself. 

This also means examining how the media or pop culture may be influencing thoughts and opinions. The goal is to tease out those influences so that you can flesh out your own beliefs and thoughts and move forward in the pursuit of what you want to do with your life.

How To Develop Independent Thinking Skills

There are several ways to develop independent thinking skills, this report identifies a few of the most effective methods. 

  • Question Everything: Asking questions is a great way to develop independent thinking because it teaches you not to accept information at face value. You learn to dig deeper and sometimes uncover that the information you are being presented is inaccurate or biased. Asking questions is also a great way to gather more details and information that will help you further enhance your knowledge. This information then empowers you to challenge your beliefs, values, and views (Zimmerman, 2016). 
  • Try New Things: When we try new things, we increase our ability to think independently by obtaining new information which leads us to be able to develop new skills and abilities. 

When we stick with activities and sources of information that is the same as the things we always do, see, hear, or watch we simply reinforce the ideas and beliefs we currently hold. This limits our thinking and our abilities. When we engage in new activities and expose ourselves to new things, we grow our mindsets and perspectives. 

  • Travel: Traveling is one of the best ways to enhance our ability to think independently. It exposes us to a wide array of new stimuli that broadens our perspectives and worldviews. 

Getting outside the realm of our own communities allows us to separate what values, ideas and beliefs we hold that are truly our own, and those that stem from our environment. We can then gather more perspective and experience which will allow us to form ideas and beliefs based on a wider and more full scope of information (Zimmerman, 2016).

Think Critically 

Critical thinking can be defined as the analysis and evaluation of a matter. Critical thinking requires us to interpret, analyze, evaluate, explain, and draw warranted inferences about what to believe and what to do in given situations (Insight Assessment, 2020). 

Critical thinking is such an asset, especially as it pertains to gaining control of our lives and becoming our own bosses. Thinking critically often requires us to challenge what we already know or what is common knowledge and dig a bit deeper so that a problem can be solved or so that a conclusion can be drawn (Insight Assessment, 2020). 

Weak critical thinking skills pose serious risks for individuals, as they are more likely to make costly mistakes, repeat errors, make bad decisions, and remain inactive in situations that require action. These errors can then lead to outcomes such as loss of opportunities, damaging relationships, depletion of financial resources, and even loss of life in extreme cases (Insight Assessment, 2020). 

This means critical thinking becomes a necessity so that individuals are able to sort through information that is presented, question information and situations that are questionable, and make sound decisions about personal and civic matters (Oliver & Utermohlen, 1995). 

Benefits Of Critical Thinking In Your Life

There are several ways that critical thinking can be beneficial to those who engage in the practice. 

  • Eliminates Bias: Critical thinking keeps the mind open and works to eliminate biases that your own beliefs might cause. This openness allows you to accept new information, process it, and then integrate that information with what you already know. 
  • Make Connections: Critical thinking allows you to make connections between the information you already possess and the new information that you obtain. This means you become able to recognize information related or connected to what you already know and then form conclusions and make decisions based on a more well-rounded view of a topic or situation (Do You Wish To Be Well Informed? 7 Reasons Why Critical Thinking Is Vital, 2018). 
  • Sorts Emotion from Evidence: Often times sources present emotional arguments that are void of any factual information to support those arguments Critical thinking works to assist you in clearly judging a situation or set of information and seeing through an argument that is pure emotions driven versus one that has the proper supporting data whereby conclusions can be drawn (Do You Wish To Be Well Informed? 7 Reasons Why Critical Thinking Is Vital, 2018).
  • Fleshes out Facts from Opinion: In order to be totally in control so that you become your own boss, you have to be able to weed out the information you can use and the information you cannot use. Doing so leads to better decision-making and more efficient and effective problem-solving (Do You Wish To Be Well Informed? 7 Reasons Why Critical Thinking Is Vital, 2018). 

When we can decipher between what information is factual and what information is an opinion, biased, or just plain untrue, we can ensure that the information we use to make our decisions and draw conclusions is completely sound.

Face Your Fears

Fear can be a major hindrance when it comes to taking control of our lives and pursuing those dreams and goals we desire to pursue. Work in the field of neuroscience has revealed how detrimental fear can actually be. As it turns out, when the fear system of the brain is active, exploratory activity and risk-taking become deactivated within the brain.

This means that fear can actually keep you from effectively analyzing information and then making necessary decisions (Berns, 2008). When fear kicks in it often will cause us to overanalyze situations. 

This leads to a phenomenon known as paralysis analysis. We begin to imagine a wide array of scenarios and situations, most of them negative, and thus the fear of making the wrong choice overwhelms us and leads to inaction. 

This typically leads to the creation of an even bigger or more serious issue, as we experience a decrease in options and often poorer decision making. Ultimately fear becomes a blocker to making progress.

It causes us to freeze and even retreat, it stifles the creativity needed to address and solve problems, and it leads to a downward spiral (Tobak, 2009). 

Steps To Limit Fear From Influencing Your Decision Making Process

In order to overcome fear, science suggests that the key is to neutralize the fear center of the brain. This can be done by taking a series of steps to limit fears influence on decision making. 

  • The Law of Reversibility: This principle says that feeling a certain way causes you to act in a manner consistent with that feeling. The principle suggests that the law can also be reversed. This would mean that by taking a certain action, even if you don’t feel it, the Law will create the feeling consistent with your actions.

This means that the act of doing something courageous even when you feel afraid can lead to the courage needed to make a decision or come to a conclusion. This demonstrates that courage can be generated by learning to discipline yourself to do the thing you’re afraid of in spite of fear (Tracy, 2019). 

  • Affirmations: Affirmations work similarly to the law of reversibility in that they work to alter our thinking and subsequently our behavior. These sentences are phrases are designed to impact the subconscious mind so that we can make positive changes to our patterns of thinking, behaviors, habits, and environments. Research suggests that affirmations are linked to enhanced performance, which goes a long way in helping us take control and become our own boss. 

The findings of a study published in Psychological Science; a journal of the Association for Psychological Science showed that self-affirmation improved the performance of participants involved in a go/no-go task. These participants made fewer errors of commission as compared to those in the non-affirmation group. 

The findings also showed that those in the self-affirmation group were more receptive to errors they did make which better allowed them to correct their mistakes versus those in the non-affirmation group (Association for Psychological Science, n.d.). The research illustrates the role that affirmation can play in helping our brains think and perform optimally when practiced on a consistent basis.

Embrace Creativity

Creativity is a significant part of our ability to gain control of our lives because of the fact that creativity pushes us to step outside the box. Creativity pushes us to approach problems from all angles, rather than from just a linear and logical approach. Such an approach often leads to breakthroughs, as creative thinkers often develop new processes and solutions because of their ability to go against the grain (The Creativity Workshop, 2020). 

A Psychology Today article explained the science behind the brain’s creative system. In the article, Grant Hilary Brenner, MD, FAPA explains that the brain has three different networks. A default network is the brain’s inactive mode; the executive network is the decision and emotion center, and the salience network determines what things you will always notice and what things you don’t. 

A major theory of creativity suggests that creativity happens when those three networks problem-solving together (Grigonis, 2019). A group of psychology experts from Harvard, Yale and other universities seemed to find results that proved this theory to be true They used MRIs to predict an individual’s creativity level earlier this year. 

When the researchers compared brain scans to participants engaging in creative work compared to those that were not trying a creative task, the researchers found more connections between the areas commonly associated with those three networks. “For creativity, scientists hypothesize that the Big Three operate as a team: the default mode network generates ideas, the executive control network evaluates them, and the salience network helps to identify which ideas get passed along to the executive control network,” according to Brenner (Grigonis, 2019). 

Research published in Scientific American also found that creativity, not intelligence, was linked to a decreased risk of mortality. On one hand, creativity allows people to be flexible and adapt when faced with challenges and changes within their environment. This means, they have the ability to adjust as needed in order to continue thriving, which increases survival outcomes. 

On the other hand, activities associated with creativity such as participating in art or music have been shown to reduce stress, decrease negative emotions, and improve medical outcomes. Thus, being creative indirectly impacts life expectancy for the better as well (The Creativity Workshop, 2020).

What Influences Creativity

What exactly influences creativity? Science suggests it is a mix between genetics, experiences, and play or practice. 

  • Genetics: Some scientists have proposed for decades that genes are linked to creative abilities. A study of 300, 000 people with mental illnesses carried out by scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden examined this idea. 

According to the results of this study, people suffering from severe neuropsychiatric illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia tend to display enhanced creativity compared to mentally healthy individuals. 

A significant percentage of the mentally ill subjects in this study were engaged in creative and artistic professions. The study discovered that their first-degree healthy relatives were also more likely to be engaged in creative occupations (Wlassoff, 2014).

  • Observation: Experimental studies conducted with children showed that when children watch someone else be highly creative, they become more creative themselves. This could be watching via television/film or watching via direct demonstration such as unstructured play (Hoicka, 2016). 
  • Experience: Valerie van Mulukom, a researcher specializing in the cognitive ties linked to the imagination, suggests play, practice, and experience are all things that can boost creativity. Additional studies show that both kids that play pretend in imaginary worlds and adults engaging in non-professional acting are more likely to have bigger imaginations (Grigonis, 2019).

Set Clear Goals

One of the best ways to have control in your life and set yourself up to become your own boss is by setting goals. Setting goals sets us up for success. They give us a clear and well-defined target to work towards and allow us to monitor our progress over a set period of time. 

With goals, we can see what is working to get us closer to reach our goals. But we can also see those things that are not working or those things that are working against us. We then can become empowered to make the necessary changes to get us back on track. 

Research goes on to demonstrate how goal setting can literally change our brains for the good, which empowers us to be more effective and efficient. An article in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews outlined how goal setting restructures the brain to make it more effective. The article outlines the process as follows: 

First, when a goal is set the amygdala, the part of the brain that creates emotion, evaluates the degree to which the goal is significant to you. Next, the frontal lobe, the part of the brain involved in problem-solving, defines the specifics of the goal. Then, the amygdala and the frontal lobe work together to help sustain focus on behaviors that will lead to the achievement of the set goal, while also working to help you avoid and ignore situations and behaviors that would impede completion of the goal. 

Essentially, the brain’s neuroplasticity changes the structure of the brain so that it is optimized to achieve the established goal (Compton, 2003).

Additional research also pinpointed the types of goals that most significantly change the structure of the brain. As it turns out, goals that are highly emotional cause participants to downwardly evaluate the difficulty of achieving that goal according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology

Essentially, the brain will perceive obstacles as less significant the more you desire a particular goal (Cole et al., 2013). This study goes back to support the idea of defining a “why.” The “why” serves as the emotional stimulus that refocuses us and helps us to perceive obstacles as less significant than the goal(s) we set. 

The 1980 research of Locke, Shaw, Saari, & Latham k between goal setting and the performance of the brain. As published in the Psychological Bulletin, the amygdala becomes fully activated and the brain is most successful when the goals set are challenging. 

It was determined that in 90% of the studies, goals that were challenging and specific led to higher performance than general and easy goals. The research concluded that challenging and specific goals positively affect performance by directing attention, mobilizing effort, increasing performance, and motivation strategy development (Locke et. al., 1980). 

Take Risks 

It may seem counterintuitive to suggest that taking risks is a means of gaining more control, but it truly can be. What is the saying about there being no rewards without risk? While it is true that there can be negative outcomes associated with risk-taking, most risks that we do take are motivated by the potential positive outcome. Thus, our focus should shift from the possible negative to the probable positive. 

If you focus too much on the risks, you will naturally become fearful and avoid making the necessary moves to resolve the situation. By altering your perception, also known as reframing, you can change the association you make with risks (Berns, 2008). Reframing is the ability to take a negative situation and adjust our view of it so that we can see the positive and thus think more positively about the situation. 

Reframing is about consciously deciding to find the good amongst the bad and choosing to highlight it. In doing so, we develop an ability to rise above our circumstances and thrive in the midst of them. So rather than risks being associated with fear and anxiety, you can come to view risks as a necessary part of the growth and development process. 

The Benefits Of Risk Taking

There are positives benefits associated with risk-taking that can further enhance one’s ability to take control and become their own boss. 

  • Risks takers are more successful: In general, risk-takers fall in the minority in a society which tends to work in their favor. Being in the minority means risk-takers tend to face very little competition. This also means it is easier for risk-takers to stand out and differentiate themselves. Both of these facts make it easier for risk-takers to forge a new successful path (McRobets, 2017). 
  • Risk takers are smarter: Research out of the University of Turku in Finland under the direction of SINTEF revealed a link between risk-taking and intelligence. The study found that the participants who spent time considering what they were going to do in a given risk situation had neural networks in their brains that were less developed than those participants who made quick decisions and took chances (Risk-takers are smarter, according to a new study, 2020). 
  • Risk takers are happier: Whether a risk-taker fails or succeeds, at least one study supports the notion that risk-takers are more content with their lives as a direct result of their risk-taking. This was determined to be because risk-takers realized that their risks would either lead to a positive outcome or they would gain experiential knowledge that would help them generate their desired outcome at a later time (Warner, 2005). 

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, it is well within your reach to be able to gain or reclaim control and become your own boss. All it requires is a series of mental shifts and corresponding adjustments in attitude and behavior to make the dream of becoming your own boss a reality. 

While implementing these habits and practices will not result in immediate change, if you are willing to stick with it you will obtain the results you desire. 

References

  • 5 REASONS INFORMATION IS POWER. (2019, April 7). Retrieved from
  • Association for Psychological Science. (n.d.). Self-Affirmation Enhances Performance, Makes Us Receptive to Our Mistakes. Retrieved from  
  • Berns, G. (2008, December 6). In Hard Times, Fear Can Impair Decision-Making. Retrieved from
  • Cole, S., Balcetis, E., & Zhang, S. (2013). Visual perception and regulatory conflict: Motivation and physiology influence distance perception. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142(1), 18-22. doi:10.1037/a0027882 
  • Compton, R. J. (2003). The Interface Between Emotion and Attention: A Review of Evidence from Psychology and Neuroscience. Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews, 2(2), 115-129. doi:10.1177/1534582303002002003
  • Do You Wish to Be Well-Informed? 7 Reasons Why Critical Thinking Is Vital. (2018, August 22). Retrieved from  
  • Grigonis, H. (2019, September 17). The Science of Creativity: What Happens In Your Brain When You Create. Retrieved from
  • Hoicka, E., Mowat, R., Kirkwood, J., Kerr, T., Carberry, M., & Bijvoet-van den Berg, S. (2016). One-Year-Olds Think Creatively, Just Like Their Parents. Child Development, 87(4), 1099-1105. doi:10.1111/cdev.12531 
  • Insight Assessment. (2020, January 23). Why Everyone Needs Critical Thinking. Retrieved from  
  • Oliver, H. & Utermohlen, R. (1995). An innovative teaching strategy: Using critical thinking to give students a guide to the future. (Eric Document Reproduction Services No. 389 702)
  • Risk-takers are smarter, according to a new study. (2020, February 6). Retrieved from
  • The Creativity Workshop. (2020). What is Creativity? The Importance of Creativity in Life. Retrieved from
  • Tobak, S. (2009, April 21). Is Fear Affecting Your Decision-Making? Retrieved from 
  • Tracy, B. (2019, October 17). How to Overcome Your Fears, Get Unstuck, and Fuel Your Success |… Retrieved from  
  • Warner, J. (2005, September 19). Are Risk Takers Happier? Retrieved from
  • Wlassoff, V. (2014, December 14). Decoding Creativity – It’s In the Genes! Retrieved from  
  • Zimmerman, A. (2016, April 28). 5 Practical Ways to Become a More Independent Thinker. Retrieved from

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