How to cope when our thoughts get too much
“Thought can organize the world so well that you are no longer able to see it.” Anthony de Mello
We think all the time. We think in order to get things done, to remember what we need at the supermarket, to plan a business meeting, to pick up a birthday card. We think and think in search of answers to decisions that need to be made; we think and dread the pending confrontation with a work colleague or friend. We think when we are completely unaware that we are thinking so much. It’s only when we realise that we ‘can’t switch off’ when there is nowhere to go from our incessant thinking that we long to feel more at ease, lighter, worry free, head free. At times this longing may seem too far reaching, out of our grasp, that we’ll never be free to just Be.
By the time we reach a stage of being overwhelmed, it can feel impossible to claw back space to breathe out from the burden of our heads. What we tend to forget is that during times when life is good and when things are going to plan, when we feel well, we are in fact still slaves to our heads. We produce approximately 70,000 thoughts on an average day, letting our thoughts (even the harmonious ones!) rule the roost, dominate the day, leaving no room for any other part of us to show up.
If only there was an alarm clock designed specifically for the process of thinking. It would be there at the ready, to prompt us that the head is getting out of hand, that we need to support ourselves before overwhelm settles in. We would then be so much better prepared for what life throws at us. We would be better equipped for times getting rough, for handling stress and anxiety. We could catch ourselves in time when a personal crisis emerges so that we don’t feel a loss at what to do or how to cope.
So where can we buy such an alarm clock? Turns out we all ready have one and it’s free and available to us any time we want it’s help. It’s our attention. We all have the potential or possibility of paying attention to how we’re feeling. We can pay attention to the many parts of us, our bodies, our hearts, our tightened jaw, bodily discomfort, even our big toe! We can access and familarize ourselves with the ever present silence that resides within us.
And what does this do? Paying attention to what’s going on in our bodies gently starts to send a message to our thoughts that says ‘hey, you don’t rule me’. Our minds start to get the message that they don’t control us. We begin to realise that we are not our stress that there is so much more to us, that we are in fact limitless. Over time, paying deliberate attention to what’s going on for us inside our bodies offers us the opportunity to get in touch with our capabilities and our internal resources. This in turn uncovers possibilities and potential in our lives that we were completely unaware of before.
Sounds so simple! So where do we begin? A helpful starting point is to simply be open to taking some time each day to observe ourselves and how we feel inside. Watching our thoughts come and go, getting familiar with the sea of silence inside of us, using our breathing to anchor and support ourselves.
In tandem with this we need to be open to challenging ourselves, our beliefs, our habits and of course, our fears. We start to create a new relationship with ourselves, a more loving, empathetic and open self. Our beliefs can stop us from trying something new, from minding ourselves, from getting the support we really need and deserve. Beliefs like ‘I can’t relax because..’ ‘there’s nothing I can do because..’ ‘this is my lot because….’. All these beliefs are keeping us stuck in our heads leaving us paralysed to move in any direction. Finding someone trustworthy, credible and non-judgemental to work with us on this helps us gain awareness and insight around our life situation. Having the courage to being open to it is the key.
We need to think in order to get things done, to get through the day. Our habit of thinking needs to serve us, not manage us. Otherwise there is no room for anything else. We remain lost in thought and miss out on so much possibility.
If you are struggling with finding some balance in your life right now and would like some support and help, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org