Do you ever feel anxious or scattered or in some way disconnected from yourself? Do you have a tendency to over-think things and find yourself caught up in knots, unsure what to do next?
It happens to me from time to time. It’s like my tempo gets messed up, musically speaking – I’m playing at 62 beats a minute while the world plays at 58.
My mind races and is even more full of thoughts than normal. Which seems impossible until it happens. But there they are zinging about.
You’d think with all the busy thoughts I’d get stuff done, but I don’t.
Like a kid in an ice-cream store my racing mind struggles to stay focused on any one thing – “I’ll have the chocolate walnut, no wait, the raspberry swirl.” “Wait a minute, what about a donut?”
It becomes difficult to see the bigger picture and I start to worry about the silliest of things. Any writing I do is listless and boring with none of the stuff that bubbles up and makes me smile. And because I don’t feel connected to myself I’m not fully present with other people.
It’s not like I don’t know why I feel like this. I do. I’ve been over-using my mind and under-listening to my heart.
I’ve been thinking my way through life, being guided solely by my mind, rather than living my way through – paying attention to inclinations and ideas that seem to bubble up out of nowhere. Including those telling me to stop and take a rest.
As a result my mind has got noisier and bossier while the wiser calmer bit of me has become quieter. Like the adult letting the child spin out of control.
The problem now is . . .
Trying to stop a barrage of thoughts is like asking a seagull to wave down a passing freighter.
There is, thankfully, a simple but powerful technique that eases me into feeling balanced again. I wanted to share it in case you have any of the difficulty I do.
It goes like this.
Stop. And make the decision that the next time you move, it’ll be because you get a feeling to and not because your mind tells you to.
Watch your thoughts come and go if you want to, but you don’t even have to do that. The big trick is the decision not to do what they say.
(When your mind tells you to do things it usually sounds like, “You should do [this] because [it’ll make your life better in some way].”)
Every time you get a thought or idea to do something, ask yourself, – “Would I actually feel like doing that if there were no consequences?”
For me there’s usually a long line of … Nope. Nope. Nope.
[If you’re doing this at work and have a to-do list the size of Texas, instead ask yourself, “What am I drawn to do?” Or, “What feels like the thing to do next?” And then later in the day or week when you have a few minutes to yourself, come back to the exercise.]
While this technique sounds simple, and it really is, the snag is waiting out your mind. Kind of like the staring game kids play, where the first one to blink looses.
Remember, you’re the boss, not your mind. See if you can withstand the barrage of complaints, criticisms and ‘helpful suggestions.’
It might take 30 seconds or it might take 30 minutes (or longer) but eventually you’ll get an inclination to move – an idea that hasn’t come from your logical thinking side.
Chances are it’ll be for something small.
For example, it might occur to me the only thing I actually feel like doing is walking over to the other side of the room and picking up my clothes. To which my mind says, “Really, is that all?”
And I’m like, yep. That’s all I got. So, I go over and pick up the clothes.
After I’ve picked up the clothes I’ll check in to see if I feel like doing anything else. Often I go back to sitting. Other times I might naturally start to move to some other also seemingly insignificant thing. Like taking a shower. Or making another cup of tea. Or putting a load of washing in.
The trick is to ignore your mind long enough for your heart get a word in.
And sure enough, I start to feel more connected and less scattered. Slowed down. An easiness returns and once again I’m plugged into the rhythm of the day. I’m rolling again.
This practice – of being guided by your gut, rather than your mind – is equally powerful whether you have all afternoon to play with the idea, or if you only have a few minutes and need to “regroup.”
Just adapt it to suit your situation.
The 3 benefits to doing this:
- You feel more grounded and calm
- The more you do this the easier it is to distinguish between a thought and your intuition as you go about your day to day life
- It can be a wonderful spark for creativity and inspiration.
It occurred to me while writing this that maybe I’m the only one who feels this way. How good would that be!? But I suspect my mind acts pretty much the same as everyone else, so I’m probably not.
I’d love to hear your thoughts too. Do you ever feel like this? What do you find helpful?? (I’ll be keeping an eye on the comments section below if you’d like to share your thoughts.)
With lots of love
PS: I had one of these times this past weekend. Here’s what ended up happening. The only thing I actually felt like doing, was walking to the store to buy a pack of potato chips, (a large bag), then I went home and spent a sunny afternoon watching a rom com with the curtains pulled. The walk to the store, being that I live down at Venice Beach, involved walking past many holiday revelers and standing in a long and boisterous queue, trying not to scowl. Ha ha! But it helped. And I started to feel more connected again.
Wanted! Calm and Focused Mind.