Would the world end? Would a loved one die? Would we just stop existing? No, none of these things would happen, and if they did, it wouldn’t be as a result of our stopping thinking.
Have you ever tried to just stop your mind in its tracks? To just be with what you’re doing at any given moment and not think about what he/she just said, or what you just posted online, or probably more to the point, what you wished you’d said, or done or posted, or not posted etc…
How much of your everyday stress or anxiety is caused by your overactive mind? I’ll take a guess and say: quite a lot. It’s funny how we as humans, will just keep on thinking even though it causes us so much stress. Let’s say we had some type of allergy to dairy, where if we ingested it we became sick with headaches and vomiting, we’d soon remove dairy from our diets. So what are our reasons for continuing to think when it causes us so much stress?
It’s probably a good idea for me to clarify at this point what I actually mean by ‘stop thinking’. Let’s ‘think’ of our mind as a tool that we pick up when we need to use it and put it down when we’ve finished with it. Similar to how you would use a hammer – you would pick it up, hammer in a nail, and then put it down. It would be considered pure madness to keep picking a hammer up when there was no use for it. In fact you would probably get yourself stopped by the police a few times (or your family and friends would become concerned for your well-being!) if you were found stalking the streets brandishing a hammer for no apparent reason.
So why do we carry on using our minds long after they have served their purpose of writing that essay, or playing that game of football, or whatever logical process it is you’ve been doing. What does this do for us? How is it productive to our life? Our minds, when being used to move us forwards, are the best things in the world, but what is the point beyond this? Ruminating, overthinking, what ifs, buts, and maybes – they are all a waste of life, and more importantly, are anxiety-creators.
Sometimes I’ll be away in the motions of my mind for several (sometimes countless!) minutes before I realise that my thought processes are pointless. There are also times when I catch my mind running with something, but the act of thinking can be so addictive that I’ll allow myself to continue thinking even though there’s no point! I think it’s fair to say that most of the human race have this addiction in varying degrees, and it obviously affects some people more than others.
One way in which I have learnt to better control my mind’s activity is to see my mind as separate from me. In doing this, I can watch its activities rather than be a part of them. It helps me to see it as just off to the left of my head in front of me. And when I say ‘see’, I don’t actually see it there! But I place its workings there when they aren’t serving me well. It helps me not to get emotionally involved in its ‘madness’.
Just to become aware of your mind’s activity is the first step in beginning to stop it on a more regular basis. How could you become more aware of when your mind is running with pointless thoughts, and once aware of this, how could you practice stopping it?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below, and contact me to see how my coaching can help you better deal with any stress or anxiety you are experiencing.