What Does Mind Over Matter Mean?
Mind over matter.
It’s a phrase that everyone has heard time and time again. It’s used in psychology, it’s used in philosophy, and it’s used in spiritual doctrines. This is a phrase usually quoted in times of hardship, but what exactly does it mean?
In today’s article, we’re going to be talking about the meaning behind mindset over matter. So if you want to learn more about the topic, keep reading.
Mind Over Matter – What Does It Mean?
First off, let’s talk about what this phrase actually means.
The most common definition for mind over matter is that, ‘your mind can overcome any situation’.
In other words, your thoughts are powerful enough to overcome any obstacles that may arise. However, it’s more than just your thoughts. It also refers to one’s own will.
When we use the word ‘will’, we are referring to a person’s inner drive — that feeling inside them that keeps them going, through good times, and bad times. It’s their determination that keeps that alive.
So, when you hear people saying “mind over matter”, they are essentially trying to say that, your thoughts can impact your reality, so if you have the right mindset and the drive, you can overcome any problem that comes along.
Think about it this way:
Thoughts + Drive = Overcoming Challenges
Ultimately, the phrase means that with the right mindset, you can overcome anything that comes your way.
What About Positive Thinking?
This idea is very similar to positive thinking.
Positive thinking is where you think positively, and believe that somehow, that everything will work out in the best, or right, way.
With positive thinking, you also have the notion that you can change your life by changing your thought patterns.
But there’s one big difference between these two concepts: positive thinking doesn’t necessarily work to overcome all obstacles, it’s used to encourage willpower.
Positive thinking is great, but sometimes things happen that aren’t under our control, so we cannot always rely on it. And even if you do succeed in using positive thinking, you may still fail at other aspects of your life.
This is because people can get into a habit of ‘toxic’ positive thinking. This means they do not allow themselves to face the negativity in their life, and they do not feel ‘unpleasant’ emotions.
Instead, they avoid reality, and their feelings, in the belief that everything will be okay.
The phrase ‘mind over matter’ does not refer to this.
In this case, you already know what you are facing is difficult, and you already know it won’t be easy.
However, if you can accept it might be difficult, but know that you can overcome the situation with your mindset and your determination, you can succeed.
It doesn’t mean you can’t be sad, or upset. It just means that you accept that times are tough, but you’re going to overcome all the challenges you have to face.
Examples Of ‘Mind Over Matter’
So, with all this being said, let’s look at some examples of how this concept can be applied. We will look at some casual examples, and some extreme examples, of mind over matter.
Let’s say you’re stuck in traffic.
This happens every single day, and it gets really frustrating.
When you’re sitting in traffic, you start to think about all the stuff you have to do tomorrow. And you begin to feel stressed out. After a while, you start getting angry because you’re wasting precious time.
Then you start thinking about all the things you have to do later on, but you’re stuck in traffic, and won’t be able to rest. Suddenly, you feel even worse.
So now, you’re feeling frustrated, angry, and stressed out. And you’re wondering if your current situation will ever end.
At first, you may not think that you can change your mindset. After all, how it’s not an extreme situation — just a very stressful one.
Well, exactly that.
Mind over matter would teach you to reflect on your situation. You would then realize that you are safe, you are alive, you are healthy — and you have the ability to do stuff.
Sure, you have a busy day ahead, and tomorrow — but you’re not there yet, and you can handle those challenges when you get to it.
Matter of fact, you have a lot of time while you are in the car. Maybe you start to listen to audiobooks. Perhaps you listen to an interesting podcast.
Potentially you use the time to be in silence — after all, you spend your whole life chatting to people, when do you ever get to be alone?
This is exactly what mind over matter means. It means looking at your situation, analyzing it, and realizing it’s something that can be overcome.
In situations like this, it just shows you that you’re actually wasting your own time, and you can be listening to books, or podcasts, while you face your reality.
Let’s take an example from a person who was diagnosed with a disease.
If you were told that you had a disease, you would probably feel sad, scared, and even angry. You would be in shock, and it would be very difficult to process the news.
However, your ‘will’ would kick in. This is your determination to live, to overcome challenges, to beat your illness.
You know that you have a challenging road ahead, and you know that there is a chance you may not get better — but you focus on recovering, and getting better, because you deserve a fighting chance, and you know you can overcome it. In these situations, understanding and coping with your emotions is critical, as outlined in the article How to Heal Deep Emotional Wounds.
Ultimately, you’re alive, and you can see a future in which you are healthy, and you will do all you can to get to that future.
You also know it’s okay to be sad, angry, and upset — and you can still try to enjoy your life, overcome your disease, and get to that future you’re dreaming of.
Mind Over Matter – Using Your Thoughts To Overcome Life
Ultimately, the phrase ‘mind over matter’ refers to a process in which we use our thoughts, and our will, to overcome any problems that we face.
In doing so, we realize the reality of our situation.
It could be that our realities are painful, and we have to accept the unpleasant feelings that accompany that. Or, it could be that in the grand scheme of things, our situation is not that bad, it’s just momentary stress.
In both situations, a change of perspective occurs, and that change of perspective will allow you to overcome the challenges that you face, or are facing.
So, that’s what mind over matter means!
Using our thoughts and will to overcome any situation that comes our way. It’s really that simple. You’ll hear the phrase in all sorts of contexts — whether it’s psychology, philosophy, or spiritual doctrines.
When it comes down to it, the phrase has a very basic, but powerful meaning, that can be applied to everyone, and anything.
It’s not the same as positive thinking, because it takes a healthier approach to overcoming challenges, by accepting the reality you are in, instead of looking at the world with rose-tinted glasses. To further explore how to manage life’s challenges in a healthy way, you might find the article How to Stop Being Judgmental useful.
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT
Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.
Last updated: February 28, 2024