Feeling as if your mind is taking you on a self-destructing journey is something that I’m sure many can relate to wholeheartedly. I can almost guarantee you that every person on this earth with a brain (trust me, some don’t have one of these, I have to clarify who we’re talking to) has been through the feeling countless times before.
The unfortunate way we’re structured as humans comes down to one fact: our brains don’t care what is actually good for us. Its one and only role in our nervous system is point blanc: survival. This means it does not look for what makes us happy, so it doesn’t focus on that. Its simple job is to look out for danger, keeping us safe. Unfortunately, this basic human instinct sometimes gets in the way of day-to-day living.
This may be why sometimes when all is well in your world, you find yourself starting to fixate on ‘what could go wrong next’ or begin to question the true happiness of the reality you’ve created around you. We may even start to daydream negative scenarios, allowing those movies we play in our head a starring role in our lives because it’s true what they say; our thoughts create our reality. But what if we can control these thoughts before they take over and become the next Samuel Jackson or Chris Hemsworth of our existence?
Yes, we as human beings may be blessed with this beautiful and complicated organ I like to name ‘the self-destructing human brain.’ However, it’s vital to remind yourself through the storm, that your brain is not your mind. It is possible for the two to be completely separate, and to remember that with the right approach, we can train our minds to allow us more control over the survival instinct of our brain.
IDENTIFY THE WORDS LIVING IN YOUR HEAD
Before we learn to control the mind, we need to understand the visiting thoughts.
By allowing yourself the space to identify intrusive thought patterns or loops that cause bother, you begin to acknowledge a repetitive cycle that may be happening in the background daily. But how do you do that?
First and foremost, journalling (or simply writing your thoughts down) has shown to be a highly effective form of sorting through intrusive, unwanted words that live rent-free in your head. Having everything visually displayed in front of you allows space to gain a third-person perspective on what floats through your mind, and you begin to view thoughts from a different angle.
By recognizing what’s bothering you, you can start to find the root cause of the uncomfortable thoughts, allowing yourself to accept them, and challenge them, which will let the thought pass through and move on.
Secondly, you can also harness meditative practices to acknowledge and analyze thoughts in a calm and composed state with no distractions. This can allow you to see things from a relaxed point of view and figure out what is true to you. Focus on what your body is telling you. Your body is always right, but your mind likes to play tricks.
View your thoughts as waves in the ocean. They come, they go.
ACCEPTING THE UNWANTED THOUGHTS ALLOWS THEM TO PASS BY
This one may be confronting for some, so make sure you are in a space where you feel safe within yourself to do so.
But the more you fight something in your mind, the bigger it gets. By sitting down with yourself and accepting and allowing unwanted thoughts to come through the door, the quicker you’ll be able to analyze them using the above examples, and in turn, the quicker they’ll pass.
Be kind to yourself. It’s within us as humans to run from pain. The first time a caveman touched fire, I’m sure he told everybody else not to touch it. I don’t have solid evidence on that fact, but I can almost assure you that’s how it went.
The ‘Unwanted Party Guest’ metaphor is an excellent way of viewing this acceptance method. The metaphor highlights intrusive thoughts as a guest you don’t want at your party. The more you ignore his knocks on the door, the more your party becomes disturbed by his loud, obnoxious knocks. However, when you decide to let him in, it turns out he’s not a bad guy. And you find yourself comfortable being there with him. You can view it here.
SIT WITH YOUR HEART AND REMOVE FEAR FROM THE EQUATION
If you find yourself stuck on an intrusive thought loop, especially when it comes to an upcoming situation that is causing you anxiety, I would recommend taking a moment to yourself somewhere quiet and practice the following:
Think of the thought or the situation in-depth. It may feel uncomfortable, but it’s okay. Now after acknowledging the thought, think of it again without any fear. Imagine your entire life that’s happened this far hadn’t happened. How does it make you feel?
By removing the ‘worry’ and by taking a moment leaving the past in the past, you can start to recognize what is true to you without the basic human instinct of allowing the brain to take control and ‘look out’ for ways to protect you.
We can allow our minds to choose what’s best for us, rather than our brains protect us, hacking that human instinct we have and viewing our thoughts from a more rational and optimistic point of view, freeing us from the negative self-talk or thought loops.
Follow Vital Connection for more mindfulness talk and hacks.