The Three Parts Of The Mind: How It Affects Your Decisions And Your Life

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the three parts of mind how it affects your decision and your life

Early philosophers like Aristotle and Plato established long ago that there are three parts of the mind. These distinct parts shape our personalities and identities. The three parts, namely the Decision Maker, the Critic & the Observer, determine what we think, what we do, and what we feel.

“The mind is the root from which all things grow if you can understand the mind, everything else is included.” – Bodhidharma

The three parts of the mind form certain traits that are complex and unique in each individual. It makes us who we are and determines the quality of our lives.

What are the Three Parts of the Mind?

The Decision Maker, the Critic & the Observer.

The mind is our power source. Spirit channels into the mind and we use this energy to think, motivate, and accomplish. Therefore to develop mastery we must understand the way the mind works. In this way, you get to embrace the daily choices you face that will determine the quality of your experience. The Course in Miracles described three parts to the mind – the decision-maker, and the critic, and the performer.

In this chapter, we will deal with the critic and the performer. Other names for these parts of the mind are the ego and the True Self or the Contrived Self and the Real Self. As you might recognize, one is negative and the other positive.

‘The critic’ demoralizes

The critic inputs judgments, opinions, and comments. It operates on the mental level. It plants doubt and it is disempowering. We might even call it the devil or deceiver. If your inner dialogue sounds like this, You can’t do that; who do you think you are; you don’t have the right education, contacts, skill, or perseverance.

You will never amount to anything, then you know the critic well. Everyone has an inner critic. It will not help you achieve anything worthwhile. It is up to you to recognize it and decide how to deal with it /or simply ignore it.

Related: 3 Practical Steps To Integrate Your Brain And Avoid Feeling Stuck

‘The performer’ keeps you going

Beyond the critic, on a deeper spiritual level, is the performer. The performer takes action, knows you can do what you set out to do, doesn’t analyze the problem forever, and keeps moving.

An example of a performer would be the little boy who wants to learn to ride his bike. He jumps on it with a determined mind and attempts to ride it and he falls off. Then he tries riding it another way. He keeps on his quest until he eventually works it out and becomes a great bike rider. He has no concern for the number of times he falls off because his goal is to ride the bike and through all his trials and errors he ultimately finds a way to do it. The same would be true of hitting a baseball, setting up a computer program, painting a room, learning how to bake a cake – in fact, anything.

Legends are performers

Arnold Schwarzenegger is an example of a performer. He came from humble beginnings growing up near Graz, Austria. His family had no electricity or running water, so he and his brother would walk for miles carrying water to their home so that they could bath, clean, and cook. Schwarzenegger did not consider this a detriment or problem but a situation to be dealt with. He did not see himself as underprivileged.

He kept moving. As a child, he saw a movie with cowboys and decided that he was going to be a cowboy/movie actor in the United States. He fulfilled his version of that dream by becoming the youngest world-famous bodybuilder, Mr. Universe.

“The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

From there he followed the opportunities and eventually moved to the United States, trained celebrities, built a real estate portfolio, and ultimately got his chance to act in movies. This is not a small accomplishment when you consider he did not even know the language when he arrives in the U.S. But that is not all, because from movie stardom he went on to become the governor of California.

In other words, Arnold Schwarzenegger set his sights and then went into action. He is the personification of the performer.

The Three Parts Of The Mind: How It Affects Your Decisions And Your Life

When it came time to write his autobiography, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story, Schwarzenegger, had a hard time remembering the timelines and particulars of his life. He had to call upon others who kept photographs and notes. Remembering these details was difficult because Schwarzenegger kept his focus forward. With each step along his path, he concentrated on where he was and where he was going.

Bring awareness to your mind

It is important that you get to know these two parts of your mind. Awareness demands it. Many people get stuck in the critic and make their lives miserable. Nothing is right, everything is cruelly judged, and they maintain focus on the “wrongs” of the world.

Yet at any moment you can make another choice. Step back; take note of your situation, and decide what action is needed. This is the decision-maker. Performer. Learning to ascertain facts versus the dramatic conclusions of the critic is imperative if you are to achieve mastery. You are always the decision-maker.

It is important that you recognize your susceptibility to negativity. Often it shows up as other people, perhaps even your family. Negativity is toxic. You must identify it and counteract it. Whether the negativity is yours or others, you have the ability to protect yourself and move beyond it. There are many people who exist as lazy, indifferent, and willing to accept all suggestions that harmonize with their own weaknesses. It gives them an excuse to stay weak. So attention is warranted. Will power is the ability to use your will to make decisions.

Related: 5 Ways To Shift Your Mindset Towards More Optimism

Decide. Choose. Ask.

“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” – Lao Tzu

You must make decisions in life. What direction do you choose to go to? By developing habits that maintain positivity, you are deliberate in building inner strength (like Schwarzenegger and others) and keep yourself from caving into the critic.

The most common weakness is the habit of leaving your mind open to the negative influence of others and that includes the broadcast news. If you become unconscious of this tendency, you are cursed to work harder to achieve your goals. The idea is to spot negativity and close off to it immediately. You want to live in high vibrancy, not low, depressed energy. You are not a lazy person.

The Three Parts Of The Mind: How It Affects Your Decisions And Your Life

This is the work that must be done to master your mind and operate as a decision-maker. It is your life. Make the best of it. Ask yourself, what do I know for sure in this situation, about this person? What am I making up, reacting to, or assuming? Don’t decide what to do until you have sorted fact from fiction or illusion.

When you are caught up in the critic, you can draw conclusions based on your past – who does this person reminds you of, what is my issue? Am I experiencing jealousy or competition? None of these deductions will be accurate. The performer has clarity about what he wants and where he is going. When he spots an obstacle he begins to calculate his options. What will it take to blast through it, climb over it, sidestep it, or reduce it to rubble? When you decide your course of action, there will always be a way to accomplish it.

“The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.” – John Milton

Jean Walters is available for consultations regarding personal empowerment, becoming unstuck, finding your purpose and passion, healing from past experiences. You can reach her at jean@spiritualtransformation.com or 314 991 8439


Written by Jean Walters
Originally appeared in Spiritual Transformation1

The three parts of the mind can change your life

“The mind is everything. What you think you become.” – Buddha

The three parts of the mind work in tandem and it is up to you to decide which aspect of your mind you will give more value to. Whether you will listen to your inner critic and shut yourself or whether you will feed the performer and step up to achieve your goals, depends on you. 

What you need to realize is that it is you who is the decision-maker, the critic, and the performer. How you wish to build your identity and what kind of a person you want to be is solely up to you. Understanding the three different parts can make you feel empowered and motivate you to perform while judging yourself. Self-criticism doesn’t have to be a bad thing as long as you take it productively to stay humble and perform harder and better.

The different parts of your mind make you what you are. It keeps you focused and keeps you going. As long as you know that you are always in control of your mind, and not the other way around, your mind can be the most powerful tool to help you build the life of your dreams.

Here’s an interesting video that you may find helpful:


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