If you are like most people, you spend a lot of time thinking. Most of us suffer from overcrowding of the mind. The voice of the critic, committee, and friend all fight to gain our attention. Clamoring to be heard, our mind goes into overdrive trying to adapt to all of the messages that are being generated. It’s exhausting. You’ve probably survived a thousand imaginary tragedies you’ve spent precious time playing out in your head. Or perhaps one moment you’re feeling content and seconds later your mind shifts and you’re creating scenarios and trudging through disaster after imagined disaster.
Sometimes we come out as victors, but more often than not we have created a theatrical event in our head that leaves us as the victim. We play the star role, capitalizing on all of the excruciating circumstances that have befallen us. We rehearse the “what ifs” to the fullest. During these mental fantasies, we can often become so obsessed that we trick our brain and body into reacting as if the situation has really happened. These mental cues formed in our subconscious powerfully direct our actions, reactions, feelings, motives, and the way we perceive others and ourselves.
Have you ever noticed that your mind is constantly talking to you? I want you to experiment for a moment. Stop reading this article and just try to sit there and not think about anything for 60 seconds.
How did you do? Did your mind let you sit quietly or was it chattering away? My guess is that it was sending you messages and directing you to do or feel something that may have seemed rather urgent. Resting is not the mind’s natural state.
Now that you know your mind is chattering out of control where does that leave you? Is there a way to make room in an overcrowded mind? There are several techniques that can help; but, as with anything, they require practice.
Begin by separating yourself from your mind. I challenge you to treat your mind like a good friend and notice what it is telling you throughout the day. Bring it with you everywhere you go, and listen to it as if it isn’t in your head. You can give it a name. You can interact with it when it talks. Be cognizant of its messages and how it makes you feel. Notice how in one moment it might be saying something kind and uplifting, while in the next it’s tearing you down and taking you into dangerous neighborhoods that you would rather not visit. You may come to the realization that your mind can turn on your faster than a fickle friend.
After you have spent the day with “your friend”, ask yourself if you still like him or her. Did they give you good advice? Were they nice to you? Did you feel agitated with all of the talking? If you are not satisfied with the friendship and the guidance that you are being offered, allow yourself to not listen to it. That’s right: when your mind speaks in a way that isn’t beneficial to you, don’t participate. There is no action required. Simply let the thought pass without holding onto or examining it and you will be amazed at how quickly it dissipates. Your obsession will lessen. If it is an especially persistent thought, write it down and then let it go. Oftentimes, our mind will not stop pestering us because it is worried we will forget something important. Reassure your mind by taking note of its thoughts.
Finally, thank your mind for all that it does for you. Overcrowding is a form of protection. Your mind is offering you all the angles, both good and bad, to make sure you stay away from danger. Its job is to constantly scan and be on alert for trouble. As early humans, we needed this detection much more than we do today. Most of us are no longer concerned with being eaten by a predator, but your mind is still on the lookout for danger. When it senses trouble, it sends a message to the brain that produces the fight or flight response in order to protect us from harm. It is in our DNA and hardwiring. By thanking your mind, you are honoring all that it does for you and allowing it to relax. Send it on a vacation and let it rest.
By training yourself to let your thoughts flow through you, the overcrowding in your mind will lessen. You will have more time to enjoy life uninhibited and cease to play victim to the voices in your head. It takes practice, but once you start you will have more energy and it will become easier. As the overcrowding decreases, you will experience a new way of living–one that is peaceful, quieter, and provides room for you to flourish.
Gretchen Hydo, owner of Any Lengths Life Coaching, is a Certified Life & Business Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Recovery Mentor. For over 10 years she has helped her clients get laser focused so that they can make more money, free up their time, and be more productive at work and more relaxed at home. It is her life’s passion to help her clients live life to the fullest, while giving them the tools they need to make peace with the past. For more information please visit, www.AnyLengthsLifeCoaching.com or email, Coach@AnyLengthsLifeCoaching.com.