Do you ever feel like you wish you could just escape from your own mind?
What if I told you that your mind is doing exactly what you’ve trained it to do?
I don’t want to upset dog lovers by drawing a comparison, but basically an untrained mind will bark, bite, beg and whine until you do something about it.
The mind can also be looked at like a computer. It runs the programs you install and regurgitates the information you’ve saved on its hard drive. If you want your computer to perform better, you’ve got to clean up old files, delete unwanted programs and empty the trash.
As we continue this discussion, I encourage you to stay in a place of curiosity and exploration. Changing mental habits can be difficult at first, but once you get a few of the basic principles down, you’ll start to find your groove and hopefully have a little fun with it. In fact, the more humour and play you bring, the easier it’ll be.
Let’s start here:
What kinds of thoughts are swimming through your mind most of the time?
This is pretty normal. And yes, at times I too am guilty of all of the above.
Life requires all kinds of things of us. At first it might seem that playing thoughts over in our minds is a great way to solve problems, figure out things that confuse us or come to terms with difficult circumstances. While that may happen, the reality is that most of the time this approach is ineffective and we become trapped in our self-created hell of worry, fear, frustration or sadness.
Thoughts aren’t the problem. It’s that we allow them to play on repeat. When you find thoughts repeating and taking over your mental space, you know you’re just spinning your wheels. This moment of realization indicates something is up. It’s showing you that you have something deeper to look at and address.
Not only is this spinning ineffective, it also affects our sense of wellbeing. Cycling thought patterns can cause us to lose sleep, be distracted and irritable, sabotage productivity, damage relationships and it negatively impacts our health.
Many of us know intellectually that our thoughts create our reality. When we’re feeling good, we are aware that positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes. But when we’re tired, frustrated, upset or fearful, we might truly believe that our current thinking content is appropriate and even necessary in that situation. We forget that our thoughts are making a neutral situation look unpleasant. We buy into the idea of good/bad luck, victim mentality, feeling stuck and out of options.
Just like dog training, we’ve got to stay on top of thoughts to maintain good habits.
Here are four things to keep in mind at all times:
Here’s a little experiment:
Let’s say you’re at the supermarket. A distracted lady with her thoughts on other things cuts in line ahead of you. If you’re in a really good mood you might just laugh to yourself and be happy to help make her day a little bit easier. But, if you’re in a bad mood and you’ve decided that life is giving you all kinds of obstacles, you might be really irritated with this lady and insist she finds her place at the back of the line.
Your mood colours your thoughts and your thoughts influence your feelings. If you find that you regularly have low feelings, you’ll want to trace your steps backwards to your thoughts and find ways to consistently improve your mood.
SHORT TERM STRATEGY:
What do you do when your mind won’t stop spinning or when you’re convinced that you just need to keep having these thoughts in order to fix whatever situation you’re in?
FOLLOW UP STRATEGY:
LONG TERM STRATEGY:
There comes a time when mental chaos just becomes too much. It interferes with too many things and compromises health, relationships and mental state.
It can also be really boring. If you want an extraordinary life, you can’t be led around by a runaway mind. It won’t work, you won’t get anywhere and what you can achieve will be greatly diminished.
The mind run amok is critical, doubting, anxious and self-defeating. It thinks its job is to keep you safe so it’s seeking out any possible scenario that might cause trouble. It wants to prevent further harm.
These are great motives, but most of the time, they’re unnecessary and unhelpful. We need to grow our faith in a gentler way of flowing with life instead of trying to control it.
Here’s a way to work with the mind instead of against it:
1. Decide to change how you think and what you think about.
Like any tool, the mind can be used for creation or destruction. It’s up to you what you do with it. The mind doesn’t mind what it thinks about. You are the driver, the programmer, the content creator. You get to choose what goes in, what gets repeated and for how long. Put your foot down and develop a zero tolerance for low quality input.
2. Make friends with it.
Your resistance and frustration will only prolong the situation. You want to create a relationship with your thoughts and thinking that’s light and easy. Laugh at yourself when you catch your thinking slipping. It’s totally normal and ok to despair at times. Be encouraging and remind yourself that you know what to do and you’ll get through this.
3. Get real about what you do want.
The noise in your head is good at tuning out the genuine desire of your heart. Your heart longs to be playful, creative, joyful, connected and adventurous. Your head thinks its job is to keep you safe and it thinks that there’s risk involved in trying something new so it yammers on about all the reasons you shouldn’t do things.
“What do I want?”
“What do I really want?”
“If I could have/be anything what would I really really want?”
4. Look at your beliefs. Look at your stories.
Call them stories and please don’t believe everything you think. As soon as you start asking what you want (see #3 above), all kinds of objections will pop up. This is great! Now you can clear out your cupboards and drawers of all the stale, old, worn, outdated, faded and boring limitations you’ve been saving for later.
Get curious and ask yourself:
“What’s the value of believing this?”
“What’s the value in repeating this in my head, over and over?”
“Who would I be without this thought/belief?”
5. Turn objections around and find reasons why something might work out, why it’s a good idea.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
It’s a good idea because…
6. Choose optimism. Because it works.
Train your mind to support what you want in life. Even if you’re not generally optimistic, increasing your faith and trust in the process of life is just smart. So much time and energy are wasted needlessly on doubts, fears and insecurities. Choose beliefs that bring you closer to what you want.
Here’s an example:
If you believe you’re terrible with money, find the one way you’re good with it. Maybe you know how to find deals or make a meal on a tight budget. That’s a place to start. Then look for other ways you can expand on that until you recognize, you’re actually not that bad at all and you can learn to be even better.
Suggested helpful beliefs:
7. Give thanks.
Give thanks for what you do have or have had. Give thanks for what you don’t yet have, the things you’re asking for. This is more powerful than you can imagine.
Start with: “Thank you for a clear and peaceful mind.”
The Good News...YOUR MIND IS A PLACE FOR MIRACLES!
Your mind is designed to live in harmony with the flow of life. We are designed to be radiant and at peace. Life is here as a partner. Our mind is as much a creator as our hands. The things we think and the beliefs we hold are all creating. If we believe that the world is a dangerous place, it likely will be. That’s the creative element in action. But, if we believe the universe is here to serve and support us, that will be just as true.
You are responsible for what goes in, so choose wisely. And, if unhelpful thoughts arise, remember, you don’t have to believe everything you think.
Darlene Tindall is a Transformational Life Coach, multi modality healer and teacher sewing the seeds of possibility far and wide. She is available in person or online for coaching, classes, private facilitation, energy work or yoga.