Our mind is a powerful tool, friend.
We can sit and and ponder the intricacies of the universe, the inner workings of the human heart, and the deeper meaning of life itself.
More often, though, we get caught in worry, planning, or any slew of random things that tend to pop into our heads only to derail us.
I say derail, because this is worry-based thinking, our default mode of thinking – which is particularly active when the brain is in a state of wakeful rest – can suck you down into a miasma of negativity.
In other words, our minds are natural worrying machines.
At one point in our evolution this probably kept us safe from danger and harm.
Today, however, it derails us from happiness.
A mind that wanders, according to a Harvard study, is not a happy mind.
Our minds like to ruminate on the past and the things that we should have, could have, and would have done differently had we known and been better.
Side note, we’re always doing the best we can with what we know and can do in the moment.
Our brains, though, like to worry about the future, all the maybes and unforeseeables which leads to anxiety and fortune-telling.
Mostly our minds wander and worry about things that are not in the present. All of those things that we can do very little about in the moment, except worry.
Psychologist Matthew A. Killingsworth echos this point saying, “… that our mental lives are pervaded, to a remarkable degree, by the nonpresent.”
Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, in their study found that people were happiest when making love, exercising, or engaging in conversation.
Meaning, that people are happiest when they are actively present and engaged in the moment, and out of their heads.
We are happiest, friend, when we are not trapped within thoughts that drag us down a spiral of worry and anxiety.
When we are able to put the inner critic to rest and – instead – get into our body.
This is not to say that we should dismiss and disregard our intellect or the power of critical thinking.
The mind, as I said, is a vital tool. We need it.
When used correctly we are able to actively observe our mind and the messages it sends us.
Our mind, when used as such, can be a great resource.
This is the use of the body and mind in tandem.
When this can get problematic, however, is if we let our mind get caught up and trapped by thoughts spinning out of control.
For example, I was once told that I was a ‘relationship ruiner’.
That I was incapable of having and maintaining a relationships and was, now, ruining another one.
I was deeply hurt by this judgement.
Instead of observing and assessing this statement as an outsider in order to understand it and let it go, I latched onto it and let the words bounce around in my mind like a game of Pong.
I got stuck in my mind and trapped in my thoughts, letting the inner mean girl have full reign.
She told me that I was unlovable.
Yelled that everyone would leave me.
Whispered that I was toxic.
Said that I would never be in a long-term healthy relationship.
Assessed that I deserved abuse and disinterest.
Hollered, again and again, that I ruin things.
My mind did what it does best…
it worried and gnawed those words like a bone, that I was a ‘relationship ruiner’, and multiplied them until I was buried underneath the onslaught.
This is one example of what it means to be stuck in our minds.
Recently I’ve been repeatedly receiving the message of the importance of getting out of my mind and into my body.
I’ve thought a lot about what this would look like, and the importance of not falling into the trap of the worrying mind.
Knowing what I know now, I’d work to be actively present and engaged with my mind.
A tool I’ve learned to rely on with these nasty thoughts is to focus on cognitively releasing and flicking them away.
I’ve even gone so far as to literally take my fingers and ‘flick’ around my head as if the thoughts are just annoying mosquitoes that I can dismiss one by one.
Perhaps if I’d used this strategy when I was told that I was a relationship ruiner I would have been able to recognizing that these words were untrue and spoken in anger and hurt.
The speaker hurting to suck an extent that they wanted someone else to hurt too.
I would have had the cognizance to tell the speaker of those words just that, as well.
Then, I’d focus on getting out of my mind, to avoid getting caught in the worrying mind trap, and into my body.
Maybe I’d physically shake off the words, or dance, or run.
Perhaps I’d take a shower and focus on each of my senses in order to feel into my body and the present moment to avoid dangerous rumination.
Or I’d make love, or meditate, or yawn, or sigh, or breath.
If we are focusing on actively doing these things and being in our body, we can reel ourselves back to the present moment and away from the worrying mind.
It doesn’t mean that negativity won’t come, just that we have the power in whether or not it takes root, flourishes, and spreads…
Your Trusted Friend ❤︎