If you want a better life you’ve got to learn how to control your thinking! That sounds simple and easy enough, but it can be hard to do unless you are able to remain both focused and persistent.
Thought control is similar to becoming like an office supervisor (let's call her P.A.M. – your Paying Attention Mind) - who has to be vigilant and ensure that the lively clerk sits at his/her work space and focuses upon their daily tasks - and doesn’t flit around the building randomly chatting to people, or surfing the internet, or gazing out of the window!
Our internal supervisor also needs to make sure there is no self-bullying or put-downs going on - which sabotage progress, and create self-doubt and more fear of failure and shame.
It's important to keep an eye on ourselves and ensure we're not over-thinking and ruminating upon anything either – something which can cause us distress and potential burn out.
When you’re not clearly focused upon a task, your mind (which is an information and energy system) will find something to occupy itself with.
This is usually in the form of 'trivia' (stuff that has some relevance but isn't important) and 'trash' (totally random stuff that has nothing to do with your current circumstances or experiences) - and is just the mind's way of grabbing something to play around with.
We have to become aware of any of the trivia and trash thinking as soon as it pops into our mind, and ensure that we control it, and dispose of it. It may have given our brain something to play around with but it wastes our time and energy, and prevents us from functioning at our best.
I call this part of our mind R.I.T.A. - our Random Intrusive Thought Activator – and she lives in the base of our skull in a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System.
Daydreams are like a mental 'time-out' and may contain a message that you need to take notice of. Perhaps a yearning from your sub-conscious 'inner child' who needs you to bring something into your life (e.g. me-time, attention, fun, love).
After daydreaming or 'reverie' we then need a mental gear-shift to get moving forwards again – towards the goals we want to reach.
Thought control is particularly important when you want to sleep.
You can't think and sleep at the same time!
Your Reticular Activating System keeps firing out stuff for your mind to grab and play around with…like an automated tennis partner firing tennis balls for you to hit back.
When the arousing stress hormone Cortisol also kicks in this ensures that your brain becomes busy – usually with stuff that should be thrown into the garbage, or at best would be much more appropriately dealt with in the morning – after a good nights sleep!
In my book ‘The Ripple Effect’ Process - an introduction to Psycho-Emotional-Education (page 63) I share an acronym I’ve created which guides you into the state necessary for sleep…one of thought control and of slowing down the brainwave frequency so that you can enter the state of sleep.
I call it ‘BEER’ (c) For Bedtime and I recreate it here:-
B.....Breath slowly and deeply, into the back of your throat—which tricks the brain into thinking that you are on the cusp of sleep.
E....Eyes closed and looking downwards level with the end of your nose—this is the ‘off ’ position for the brain, which you may have noticed if you read in bed and fall asleep whilst doing so.If your eyes rise up again, as if looking upwards, then just bring them down again, and intend to keep them at that lower level.
E....Empty your mind of thoughts, ideas, memories or plans....as best you can. On your outgoing breath imagine that the breath blows away any such thoughts—like gusts of wind blowing away fallen leaves from your garden path, leaving it clear.
R....Relax your body, as if soaking in a warm bath; or sunbathing....feeling the warmth penetrate every cell of your body, leaving you deeply relaxed, submissive and safe.
trying to get to sleep it helps too if you can become like a soothing
parent to the tired but restless child inside of you.
You wouldn’t stimulate a child’s brain with worries, planning, reviewing the day, or regurgitating old fears.
Instead you’d be calm, and you’d breath slowly and deeply – as would a genuinely sleepy person. You would thereby guide the child into the sleepy state of Theta brainwave frequency, and finally down into Delta – the frequency of sleep. I do this with my grandson and it works…sometimes it takes a few attempts though!
In a nutshell we need more P.A.M.(c) and less R.I.T.A.(c) - and if it's time to sleep you may also need a B.E.E.R.(c)
So there you have some insights into how and why to control your thoughts – and not allow them to control you!
Maxine Harley (MSc Integrative Psychotherapy)
MIND HEALER & MENTOR
Please visit http://www.maxineharleymentoring.com – where you'll find out more about how I help women to FEEL better, so they can BE, DO and HAVE better.