As I got better at noticing my emotions and my internal state in general, I often felt that it wasn’t what it “should” be, and then I’d feel a drive to change it. I had a whole host of techniques to fix my thinking.
If I was worrying about something, my strategy was to think through a worst-case scenario to reassure myself it was going to be manageable. If I had insomnia, I’d do calculations to figure out when I had to fall asleep and wake up to be functional the next day. When my imagination was obsessed with building a fantasy future, I had a list of distractions to snap myself out of it. When I was busy or flustered, I’d name the signs – restless body, shoulders hunched, edgy voice, mental chaos, irritability – and write out ALL THE THINGS rattling around in my head. The list usually overwhelmed me even more.
This was all done with a background of my inner voice scolding me for letting my life get out of balance. Then scolding myself for passing judgement. Then trying to fix my thinking about that.
Can you feel the spiral? I could – I knew that none of this was working.
To get to a calmer place when my inner state was less than zen, here’s what helped me the most: Not doing anything about it.
In The Little Book of Big Change, Amy Johnson uses the analogy of a snow globe to describe a busy or flustered mind and she points out that a snow globe is self-settling. When you set it down, the swirling snowflakes eventually go still. In fact, the only way to stop the swirling is to stop doing anything.
So now when I notice that my mind isn’t settled, I just leave things alone to let the snowflakes calm down by themselves. I don’t need to fix anything.
It works like magic – sometimes as quickly as in a couple of breaths. Other times it takes awhile, but during that while I’m not actively struggling to change things, at most I’m taking a pause while my body and mind figure it out in the background.
So I’ve decluttered my mind of all those strategies to fix my thinking 🙂 Freedom!