Are You Out Of Your Mind?

Are You Out Of Your Mind?

Are You Out Of Your Mind?

By Clifford C. Kuhn, M.D.

I have a good friend who is able to trust himself implicitly and thoroughly. It''s not that he knows he''s always right. In fact, he openly admits he''s made some monumental mistakes in his life, sometimes with painful consequences. This doesn''t discourage him. In the first place, he has no problem admitting when he''s wrong. Second, he recognizes that his mistakes teach him more than his successes. So, he continues to trust his instincts to make the right mistake at the right time to get the education he needs.

I bring this up because, whenever I''m with my friend, I realize how little trust I have in my own instincts and intuition. When it comes to this kind of self-esteem, I''m afraid I fall in with Groucho Marx, who once said he could never join a country club with standards low enough to offer him a membership.

One reason I have trouble trusting myself is that I''ve had a lifelong addiction to thinking. Like any addict, I have become unbalanced. As certainly as drinking too much gets me drunk , thinking too much gets me thunk . As a drunkard I''m not likely to be thinking clearly, but as a thunkard , I''m definitely thinking too much to trust my instincts. To me, thunkeness is nothing more than the state of being afraid of all the possibilities in everything.

It''s the old battle between heart and mind. The mind shouts; the heart whispers. The mind yells, "Yes, but !" The heart murmurs, "Yes, and ." Unless we''re careful, we end up heeding only the loudest voice within us.

Listening to his heart, and trusting it, is precisely what my friend does best. He can do this, he says, by constantly focusing on what he really needs, apart from what he wants. He has discovered that, like most of us, he wants many things, but actually needs relatively few of them. When he remembers this, it frees him from the tyranny of a demanding and unforgiving mind, allowing him to pay more attention to his heart. It is the mind that stands for getting what we want, while the heart is all about fulfilling our needs.

To tell you the truth, until I met this friend, I had never stopped to think that I was thinking too much. I failed to make any distinction between my wants and my needs. I had always tried hard to make my heart conform to my mind''s wishes. My problem, of course, was that the chief product of my mind has always been fear, while the heart is where all my fun originates.

So, now I''m having more fun. I have learned that, whenever I have a decision to make, the first question to ask myself is, "What do I really need here?" This releases me from the stranglehold of my fearful mind and encourages my heart to speak right up. When I can listen to it and follow its dictates, I am never misled. I can often be in over my head, but I''m never in over my heart.

Though some may disagree, I haven''t really lost my mind. I''m still in touch with all the information I have stored there. It''s just that I spend more time in my heart.

If you were to ask me, "Are you out of your mind?" I would answer proudly, "Yes, I am . and thank you for noticing."

Dr. Clifford Kuhn is both a psychiatrist and a comedian. He is professor of psychiatry at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. His book, The Fun Factor: Unleashing the Power of Humor at Home and on the Job , is available in bookstores and on his website. A professional member of the National Speakers Association, he offers entertaining workshops and presentations on humor skills and is available to anyone interested in enhancing performance, productivity and health by creating an atmosphere of fun. Results are guaranteed . Dr. Kuhn may be reached by phone (502-722-8732), e-mail ( or by visiting his website (

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