Lying wide awake one night, tossing and turning like a corkscrew, I just couldn’t seem to get my mind to shut down. Frustrated with my inability to relax and get back to sleep, I had a sudden epiphany:
Thinking is highly over-rated.
There are times my thoughts seem to take on a life of their own. An innocent, random thought turns into a full-blown, sad-song movie of my current state of affairs. Here are a few examples:
- “What if” thinking (worrying about the future)
- “If only” thinking (ruminating on the past)
- “Over” thinking (scrutinizing and analyzing every detail)
- “Fill in the blank” thinking (creating my own stories)
I wish I could be more like Rudy, my dog. He’s looking at me intently right now with those big brown, puppy dog eyes. I guarantee you that he’s probably not even thinking. Lucky dog!
Now I’m not saying I want to be a dog, but stepping off of the “thought-go-round” and just enjoying the quiet stillness actually sounds pretty refreshing right now.
Yeah, I know. We can’t just quit thinking altogether. After all, thinking is highly encouraged and rewarded in our culture. We’re told things like:
- “Take some time to think about it.”
- “Give it some thought before you . . .”
- “Make sure you think it through.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all thinking is bad. Obviously, we can’t go through life acting like a dog. But the more I think about thinking, I see how my thoughts can unwittingly run amok. I give them too much freedom to control my state of mind. Like they know anything! They’re just thoughts!
I guess we all tend to give our thoughts a certain power because they appear to be so true and accurate. They really seem to know what they’re “talking” about. But, given enough energy, our thoughts run rampant and start turning negative. And then the trouble begins.
Negative Thought –> Negative Feeling = Pain/Suffering
I don’t know about you, but I prefer to minimize pain and suffering in my life! No reason to make our journey any more difficult than it already is.
So let’s take a break now and then to quiet our minds – to put our thinking in perspective. Whenever you could use a little thought reduction, try this:
- Acknowledge that your thoughts are getting out of control.
- Take a deep breath and bring your focus back to the present.
- Give yourself permission to let it all go and NOT think about the past, the future . . . about anything. Right now, in this moment, everything is okay.
Simple technique? Yes. But not easy. You’ll very quickly find yourself thinking again! And that’s okay. Little by little, with practice, you’ll get better. Just imagine how good it feels to quiet your mind and not think so much.
How do you quiet your mind when you need to?