Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC
Executive Director: AllCEUs.com
Podcast Host: Counselor Toolbox and Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery
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Things We Do To Increase the Noise
Stuffing and compartmentalizing feelings instead of dealing with them leads to them rattling around in your head. (Imagine buying a bunch of soda at the market and not wanting to unload, it, so you leave it in the trunk and it just rolls around, making a racket each time you drive somewhere). Generally, the things we “stuff” fall into two categories, anxiety and anger.
- A laundry list of to-do items
- Fears, both real and imaginary
- Creating catastrophic “what-if” scenarios of the future
- Trying to control other people’s behaviors, reactions, thoughts
- Judging the present as not being as it “should be.”
- Hurtful things that have happened in the past
- Regret (anger at yourself for things you did or did not do in the past)
The first step is to know your monkey mind can be tamed. You can learn to control your racing thoughts and develop healthy habits for dealing with unpleasant emotions and events.
Write your thoughts down at the beginning and end of the day to get them out of your head and on paper. You don't have to address them right then, but now you have a record of them and you don't need to keep turning it over in your head.
Talk to someone who can help you solve the problem or evaluate the concern.
Set aside a “thinking time” each day when you will deal with your thoughts.
Practice radical acceptance. Sometimes things just are. Adopt an “It is what it is, now how can I improve the next moment: attitude.
Quiet the internal critic/Chicken Little. What is the likelihood that the sky is actually falling>?
Exercise to pull energy from your mind down to those bigger muscles.
Know your direction. It is easier to identify thoughts and concerns that are not worth your time and can be let go if you know where you are headed and what is important.
Examine the practicality of the thought. Is this worry or thought helping me? If so, okay, do something about it. If not, then it is impractical to get all twisted up about. I woke up to a minister on TV this morning who spent the entire 30 minutes telling people to send him money and God would bless them for it. Uhhh…God doesn't work that way (Acts 8: 18-20). Did it irritate me? Yes, for a minute, but that anger was not practical. My feelings about the situation were not going to change anything. All I could do was pray that people could see the truth, and then let it go. I had other things that were demanding my energy.
Push the thoughts away (if you determine they are unhelpful). Sometimes you may have thoughts that you are going to fail or something is going to go wrong, or you perseverate on things that didn't go right. Do you best. Get your ducks in a row and then push those thoughts away. Continuing to worry is not going to do any good.
Practice effective time management so you do not feel pulled in 10 different directions and stressed that you will not be able to live up to your obligations.
Focus on the positive (C3). Even though one thing may be going poorly, you likely have 4 or 5 other things that are important to you and going well. Remember ALL of the things you are committed to, not just the one that is going poorly. Identify what parts of the situation you have control over (even if it just your reaction to the situation), and view dealing with it as a challenge instead of a struggle.
Practice mindfulness identifying 3 things you see, three things you hear, three things you smell and three things you feel. When you are focused on trying to identify these things, your mind cannot be thinking about other stuff. You are forcing it to change directions.
Stop assigning meaning to things and taking them personally or believing in superstitions such as…well, because I overslept, the rest of the day is going to be a disaster too.
Pray. Give control of the things that you are unable to control to your higher power or organizing force.