“Don‘t take your thoughts too seriously” —Eckhart Tolle
Have you found yourself going about your day seemingly perfectly fine, and then suddenly your mood is sidelined with someone cutting you off in traffic, or that secretary not doing their job yet again, or your spouse ignoring you, or kid not listening to you for the umpteenth time?
You‘re fuming, angry, upset, irritable, stressed.
How so we get off this crazy train?
Our thoughts indeed are just part of the picture, and often a mere side effect. Our thoughts come after our feelings and sensations. Yet we grab onto our thoughts and they take us places that reinforce our complexes and keep us on a road that often leads not towards healing or transformation, and instead into stuckness.
Ugh. Who wants to be stuck?
Take a moment and watch those thoughts bubble up. Are they really, honestly, telling the whole truth? Or just part of the truth? Maybe no truth at all?
If you’re angry over your spouse ignoring you, you may think lots of things—they don’t love you, they don’t care, etc etc. None of those really get to the real truth inside you, that you’re reacting to, that is increasing your pulse, that is making your palms sweat and your body tense up.
When we are in stress mode, our blood pressure rises and our cortisol increases and this in turn does nothing to help our thought process be clear and rational—in fact, it shuts down our higher brain regions and we become more narrowly focused on our anger, disappointment, hurt.
So what do we do when we are stuck like this?
1– Get off the crazy train. Your body is reacting—take its lead and calm down. Go outside, take a walk, do light stretching, do deep breathing, do a body scan, or do the RAIN technique to calm and refocus.
2– Notice those thoughts as they go as data—NOT evidence. Data is present there for us to use or discard. This is not evidence of a wrongdoing or otherwise something to judge or criticize. We are in a nonjudgmental space when we see our thoughts as data.
3– Engage only when answer this—what I am going to say/do is for my (or the group/collective) best interest? If you can't get there, take another pause, or a day, or week, and let time give you space and eventually you'll have the bandwidth to engage.
4– Reflect. What was it like to notice thoughts and not jump on them like they had eternal truth? When we distance ourselves from our thoughts, over time you begin to clear out the clutter and eventually notice the thoughts that indeed have deep truth attached to them.
Let me know in the comments if you give this a try. What works, what doesn't? How can you reach into your inner strength and grow?
Blessings in growth,
PS- Struggling to help that Inner Critic to quiet down? A few tips here.