One of the first steps to getting “unstuck” or “getting it together” whether that’s setting new goals, gaining more personal peace or somewhere in between, is being aware of and finding control over your thoughts. Why? Most of us are running on auto-pilot. Buddhists call this the “monkey mind” – thinking about dinner, how to get a promotion, the beach bod you’ll get in three months if you start now all while you’re trying to complete tasks at work and heal from the argument you had with your dad the day before. It’s a lot! But we do it all the time. When we are not managing our minds, we allow them to run rampant, thinking whatever, however and whenever. What happens is subconsciously, we carry stories with us that, without supervision, can turn our days sour, make us bitter about other people’s actions for what seems like no reason, and keep us from showing up as our very best and brightest authentic selves.
Take a look at the following three tips to jump start your healing, manage your mind and uncover the negative stories you keep playing in the back of your mind…
1. Notice what your mind says This is where all your limiting beliefs are floating around. Most of what we play on repeat is subconscious, thus it takes some focus and effort on your part to catch the lies you tell yourself. To simplify this exercise, choose a time of the day to truly focus on what is coming up for you naturally.
Say you choose gym time. Notice how you feel about going to the gym - we aren’t looking for negative thoughts here, we are simply noticing all of our thoughts. Are you excited to go to the gym? Do you feel body shame walking into the gym? Are you feeling okay about your body and hopeful about the results you’ll get after a couple of months? When you get to the treadmill are you feeling confident about this workout you’re about to have? Do you feel nervous about using this machine? Do you feel people looking at you and love it? Do you hate it?
As you go through your time at the gym simply observe what comes up for your naturally.
Do you focus on people judging you? Are you comparing yourself to others? Do you feel less than/unsure in certain settings? Are there people in your life that trigger you to act out of character? Do any negative feelings arise when you eat? Remember: The objective here is not to control your thoughts but simply to notice what comes up
2. Stream of consciousness journal You’ll hear about this one all the time. Write, write and keep writing whatever comes to mind. If you’re thinking/writing about turtles in one moment then your resentment towards your mom shows, up – go with it! Whatever comes up, whether or not it makes sense, write it down. Time yourself and do this for five minutes each morning, on your lunch break or right before bed and see what comes up. As days pass, see if you notice any patterns in negative speak about you or others.
3. Meditation and/or prayer
I love using both of these practices interchangeably. I find prayer to be a time for me to verbally dump it all out. But sometimes I feel too heavy to even speak and so I’ll say “Lord, you already know what’s on my heart, please renew my mind and spirit” and I’ll leave it at that. Regardless of how you pray, when or how long you pray, I view this as a time to speak. To open up and get vulnerable with the Universe and express your needs to the Creator. To walk in faith, knowing someone or something so much bigger than you is listening.
Meditation is my time to be still and listen. I don’t always hear from God, sometimes when I’m done meditating I’m left with nothing more than a peaceful feeling (as opposed to an epiphany or hearing God answers my questions/prayers).
Both practices are great ways to get into the habit of witnessing your thoughts. During meditation the objective is to be still, to clear your mind and simply be. But of course, our minds tend to be chatty and it can take some practice to truly quiet what is inside. As you practice this, simply observe the thoughts as they come up and kindly guide them back out. When you are done with your meditation or prayer, I encourage you to write down anything that came up for you, regardless of the thought scaring you, making your nervous or making no sense at all. Just take notes.
All of these tips are practices that I use in my every day life to stay woke to my thoughts. We cannot make changes if we do not know what’s going on.
For more help on mind/mindset management, or for any questions you may have, feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org