Addicted to Over-Thinking?

“Positive thoughts are a biological mandate for a happy, healthy life.” Bruce Lipton, The Biology of Belief

runaway+trainOne day I was speeding down the street, yelling at the idiotic drivers everywhere, feeling grumpy and pissed off. (Sound familiar?) “If they would just turn when they’re supposed to, or drive life would be better.” (Ha) I was selling real estate at the time and knew it wasn’t the job for me. I believed I was unhappy because of all the “other people” who didn’t do their jobs, which made my life more difficult.

But as I was driving that day I had an epiphany – maybe it wasn’t THEM that was making me unhappy. Maybe it was me. More specifically, maybe it had something to do with all the negative thoughts swirling through my brain at any given moment. That was an uncomfortable, but eventually empowering moment.

Dr. Gregg Jacobs, Harvard Ph.D and author of The Ancestral Mind, calls the mind the Thinking Mind. I call it the “Over-Thinking Mind.” Dr. Jacobs says the mind by its nature is critical, controlling and analytical. Buddhists and psychologists call the negative mind the ego and 12 steppers know that acronym means “Edging God Out.”  When we’re caught up in our negative over-thinking mind we’re stressed, on edge, looking for what’s wrong about ourselves and everyone else. What fun.

breathingwomanThankfully, with awareness (always the first step of change) and practice we can help the mind better behave itself and feel greater peace and happiness in the process. This leads to presence which is simply the art of staying with your self (thoughts, feelings, experiences in the moment.)

Here are 5 steps I’ve found helpful to transform negativity and over-thinking:

1)   Become aware when your mind is off and running and dragging you with it. Just notice the angry, blaming, judgmental, or negative thoughts and take a breath or two. This creates space to pay attention to the fact that your mind has hijacked you. (“Those ____ drivers.)

2)   Notice what the mind is saying – without taking it too seriously - be the witness or observer.

3)   Notice any feelings that you’re experiencing – angry, sad, hurt, afraid, guilty. Name them and notice where in the body you experience them. (Again, be the witness vs. the judge)

4)   Take 10 breaths into the part of your body you identified or into your belly.  Notice any changes in how you feel now. (Paradoxically, the quickest way to "get rid" of feelings is to name them and feel 'em.)

5)   Re-Frame Your Thinking: Instead of what you were thinking, ask what would you like to think. Pick a positive thought that’s the opposite of the thought you started with. For example:  Instead of “those idiotic drivers” I could choose to reframe it as “those drivers that are probably just as much in a hurry as I am.”