How many times have you so desperately wanted to NOT be thinking about something, but there it is – looping through your mind – over and over and over and over again. It is honestly one of the worst feelings. Not only does this frustratingly feel like it only happens with our bad memories, but it also feels as if we are at the whim of whatever the mind wants to think about – forced to just sit back and watch. I am here to empower you to take back the control so you can be filled with the positive thoughts so necessary for productivity, generosity, and simply just being.
Let’s say you are feeling insecure, guilty, angry, mistreated, rejected, etc. and the story behind this feeling is on full blast in your mind. Here is the step by step plan to stop over thinking.
Step one: Give yourself the permission to think about this event in so much detail. I know that might sound odd, but so many times we rush ourselves to be “over something” before we have even felt something.
Step two: Set a time limit. Specifically, define how long you are willing (or needing) to process the event. Be honest with yourself. I like to set my time limits based on a situational cue, for example, I let myself think about something for a whole car ride or one whole meal or anything that has a very obvious end time.
Step three: Identify what you DO want to be thinking about when your time is up. Without a replacement thought, the mind will quickly and continuously find its way back to the story you are trying to take a break from. There are the obvious things you can suggest yourself to think about, like an upcoming trip, a funny memory, or what your schedule is for the week. But sometimes thinking of those things in the heat of the moment doesn’t seem like a strong enough tool to battle the intensity of a raging mind. So here is something that I have found a lot of personal and professional success with. Let’s say that the event that keeps replaying is about a recent rejection, then the question you ask yourself is – “when recently have I felt very accepted and wanted by someone?” It is basically taking the negative script and forcing you to challenge it with your own life experience and with the exact opposite feeling.
Step four: Go to sleep. What I mean is, save time tomorrow to reflect on this topic. Give your mind the comfort of knowing that you are not pulling this story away from it forever, and that tomorrow you will give the mind time to replay the same story if it wants. The way I image it is like a kid with their favorite toy doing the same action over and over and over again, but the parent needs to get the kid to school. The parent isn’t going to say – “ok nope, you have played with this enough, I’m forcing you to throw it out, never play with it again, and sit in silence”. We can see that this is a horrible idea, yet why do we expect the mind to be any different?
Step five: Be gentle with yourself. Try these steps and also honor that maybe you need to sit and think on something for just a little longer than you wanted. Accept that you need that.
“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”