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When your thoughts drive you crazy




I am sure we have all experienced this at some point in our lives. Your thoughts go round and round, getting nowhere fast, escalating to a catastrophe. It makes your body tense, you can’t concentrate on the important things in life and you can totally forget about sleep!


What are thoughts?

At the time of me writing this I consider our thoughts to be really weird and abstract things. They are not even necessarily OUR OWN. Like that obscure bit of pop-trivia you suddenly know but don’t know how you know it, your thoughts can come out of nowhere, without you having control over them. Which is kind of the problem. We can let our thoughts get out of hand.


I once had a Terry Pratchett quote from his book Small Gods on my wall that said “You can’t think about the way you thought, it is like opening a box with a crowbar that was inside.”  But that is no longer true for me.


They come out of nowhere

After a few years of meditation, soft-belly breathing, therapy, coaching and the like, I notice how thoughts bubble up from nowhere and I can be much more aware of them now without believing them, without identifying with them and I can even talk to them like children (or a distressed pet) to calm them down, or distract them.


Brain bullshit

With practise, you start to notice when your brain is talking bullshit to you. If you start to feel bad, fearful, angry, anxious or similar, chances are, your brain is getting to you with some nasty talk or messaging. This does not mean that it is you! This talk has been picked up and stored in your brain-archives from events way back, events you may not even remember, when someone put you down, made you feel bad about yourself, embarrassed or shamed you.


The origins or your inner critic

This is when your inner critic (a.k.a. the dictator, or something similar) was born. To protect you from further painful experiences of being hurt by others, it started to store all the messages you needed to hear to make you perfect, or safe, or invisible, or whatever it may be.


A coping mechanism

It is important to accept that this part of you came into being to protect you and it does want what is best for you, it just didn’t learn a healthy way of expressing that. It is a child-like part of you which is scared of being criticised, rejected, humiliated, disappointed, etc. and it is trying to help you avoid those feelings. The ridiculous thing is that your brain can cause these painful feelings itself, even though it is trying to protect you from being hurt from the outside.


Show a little understanding

Taking an understanding or loving approach towards this little critic critter is a good way to keep it quieter and calmer. You do not have to fight against it or scold yourself, or it, to get rid of it. Trust me, this just leads to more ill-will towards yourself, and that is not the way you want to go!


Soothing yourself

Love is the answer. Loving on that part of you and being gentle with it is the non-violent way to go. You can talk to it like a child, e.g. “Oh, sweetheart, I know you are scared and you think we have to be perfect, but this is enough right now, don’t worry, nothing bad is going to happen.”


What about worry?

Other popular circular thoughts (or rumination, thought-loops) are worries and thinking up the worst-case scenarios. Oh boy, that is a tough one, a real bummer and such a waste of our resources. They are so draining, right?


I am sure you already know that worry is a futile activity. But again, it happens to all of us. Or at least most of us. If you are a person who does not worry like this, that is wonderful! Take a moment to appreciate how amazing you are, not wasting your brain power on such activities! And I used to be jealous of you.


Caught in the act

But now I see things more clearly. Now I am more aware of my own thoughts, I can recognise when my brain has decided to engage in some worry activity. I can then decide to actively counteract.


Worry won’t just take over your mind it can hijack your body and nervous system. You can become obsessed and again, lose sleep and it can even cause your health to suffer.


Awareness is key

Just being aware of what is happening in your mind is the first step. Now, you may get annoyed with yourself about worrying about things knowing that you worrying about it isn’t going to help ANYONE. And again, getting agressive (verbally or thoughtfully) towards yourself is more than likely to make you feel worse, so my advice is, being LOVING again.


Taking control of your brain’s activity.

If you notice yourself worrying, remind yourself that these are just thoughts, worrying is an activity and decide to engage your brain in a different activity.


An activity that makes you feel good, one that will force your brain to concentrate on something else. Jigsaw puzzles and building Lego are good activities for this! You could also try out a tricky recipe where you really have to concentrate on the ingredients and the method. The main thing is you have to concentrate.


Looking after your nervous system

Another approach is to go through the body first. Worry can cause adrenalin and cortisol to be released and we can get jittery, feel anxious or angry, etc. In this case, do something for your body first. Shake and Dance (I love this one!), walk, run, jog, cycle, do push-ups, whatever does it for you. You will release those hormones and notice the difference it makes to your brain chemistry.


I think this is why sport and exercise is so often prescribed for people with depression, anxiety or other disorders, it is a relatively easy tool to help re-balance your brain and your system, especially as you get to chose what suits you.


To Re-cap, if your thoughts are driving you crazy, remember:


  1. They are just thoughts, they are not you.  A bit like old records being played in your brain, or like an old computer programme that is being re-booted.

  2. Be kind to yourself and to your brain. Use soothing, gentle and appreciative language with yourself, but pay the thoughts no real heed. They do not speak the truth!

  3. Do something to distract your brain, concentrating on a different activity.

  4. Do something physical to help your body re-balance.



I hope this was helpful to you. I wish you every success!


If you need any help with this, you can get in touch: kathy@burnoutrevolution.com


Alternatively, if your thoughts are too much for you to handle, please talk to your doctor or seek professional help. You do not have to suffer!


Sending you lots of love and the best mental health,


Kathy





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