Can’t stop thinking?
Problem: Do you feel this way? “I can’t shut off my mind”.
Bringing Awareness: I don’t think we would complain if these thoughts were filled with wonderment and joyful memories of the past or glorious dreams of the future. Let’s be honest here, not many of my clients come to me blurting out “ I just can’t stop thinking about lying on the sand in Maui” or “ I have recurring thoughts of landing my biggest gig/job/soul mate”. Please help me!! More commonly they are filled with WH questions (What if? Why? When? How?, etc.) Feelings of fear. These thoughts are obstreperous and seemingly unmerciful.
One of the big reasons that you might feel like this is because you are JUST NOT GOOD WITH THE UNKNOWN! Sound familiar? Uncertainty? “ Yuck” you say… “ I hate uncertainty!” You HATE things that are unpredictable. You likely suffered from feelings of insecurity, abandonment, and instability in your former years.
Guess what? This is NOT normal.
Action: How to stop the constant thinking.
Method: Stop avoiding Feeling. When those thoughts are relentlessly filling your head, you need to stop whatever you are doing and face them head-on. Ask yourself “How is this thought making me feel?” This could be a physical symptom e.g. nauseous. Or it can be an emotion, such as ‘shame’ (that one is a doozy…I personally hate that one….yucky!) So where does our mind automatically go? Yes, AVOIDANCE. Why? Because it is our primal nature to protect ourselves – fight or flight! Parasympathetic nervous system kicks into gear and off we go to the races! Dang! You gotta love that built in protection system.
Sit with that feeling. Don’t worry, it won’t be long. Ask yourself why you are feeling this, in a very kind compassionate way. You may not always have the answer – and if you don’t – that is when you need to do more inner work. So, how might this look…
Analogy: You feel unsettled, anxious, irritable.
Pause and ask yourself, Why? “Because I (fill in the blank) – which you then tend to follow up with terrible hateful words towards yourself. “ I am an idiot for doing that.” “ Why would I do that?” “ I should of …” and so on and so forth.
WAIT!! Stop yourself right there and challenge that thought. Really? Are you actually stupid? Or have you overcome some real hardships in life up to this point? Have you nailed/been successful in other aspects of your life? Come on… how valid is that thought?
This is when you are winning now. You have challenged the thought and by doing that – extinguished it. For every self- limiting thought you have – you need to hit it head on, challenge it, and get rid of it!! You extinguish it simply by facing it – then challenge – then eliminate it.
Why? Because you will see, it isn’t actually valid. Were you less intelligent about a certain topic or guilty of something at one time? I am sure you were? But you likely simply made a mistake in life. You were likely younger, smaller and less experienced when you made an error. Maybe you didn’t even make the error but you were told you did and you went into shame.
The point is, whether it was valid or not, it was something that happened in the past. It is not you TODAY. So get over it! Learn from it (if there is a lesson to learn at all) and let that lesson expound you in different ways.
And hence – that is how we stop obsessing about the future. We become okay with the unknown, because it is exciting to have a challenge ahead. How boring life would be without challenges?