How to work with distracting thoughts…
Has this scenario happened to you?
You are going about your day and you notice you are on a negative thought train and you keep repeating it over and over again.
- “I don’t like ……about my job.”
- “I don’t like ……. about my body.
- “My life just isn’t what I want it to be.”
As you stay on this negative thought train, you notice your body feeling tense, and your overall enjoyment of the day going down. Research shows that obsessive thoughts & rumination are associated with bing- eating, anxiety, depression, lack of self esteem, and greater irritability & restlessness.
Obsessing and ruminating about thoughts that are either in the past or the future will only lead you to feeling disempowered and frustrated. Why? Because all we have any control over is right here in this present moment.
The truth is that 70-80% of our thoughts are negative. This is just how our brain is wired and what helped us to survive to our modern day form. The silver lining is that because we have so many thoughts, we don’t have to believe them all since many of them are NOT TRUE.
When I was teaching a meditation course I developed for Pixar employees, I would often say, “Get on the mindfully incredible train.” Well, that is what we are going to do ladies and gentleman. “ALL ABOARD!”
Learn how to be mindfully incredible in 6 easy steps:
1. Label your thought. This is a moment of mindfulness. You are able to see that you have been lost in a negative thought and now can acknowledge it and let it go. Label it for what it is, “Thinking, Planning, Judgment, Fear.” With a regular meditation practice, it becomes easier to recognize and label your thoughts.
2. Swat it away. I sometimes think of negative thoughts as bothersome flies in the air. They are buzzing and you think they go away, but then they come back. Imagine these negative thoughts as flies that just need a good swat. Shoo!
3. Take a mindful walk. One of the best things we can do when the mind is worked up is to get out of our heads and into our bodies. Find balance in your body by going for a walk where you can take in all the nature and outside scenery and got lost in the present.
4. Sing a happy song. Sometimes when I find I am in a negative state of mind. I will sing something upbeat, empowering, and positive.
5. Use a positive antidote. If you notice you are feeding a certain thought like, ” I don’t have enough.” try on its antidote…”My life is blessed with a lot of abundance and support.”
6. Take in your good worth. Often times when the mind is stuck in negativity, it is often directed toward ourselves. Incline the mind towards seeing your good worth in the world. Be compassionate and not critical towards yourself. You are doing the best you can.
7. BONUS STEP– Attend a mindful daylong. I have engaged in a lot of extended meditation practice throughout the last 10 years. I have sat on many silent retreats and have found great benefit from a single extended day of mindfulness too. The ability to sit in silence with others, learning new tools and ways of being really helps one to establish a strong foundation to be with all the ups and downs with strength and grace. A daylong is a wonderful way to develop your mindful roots. From a foundation of a balanced mind, body, and heart, your daily practice becomes the watering of those roots. With attention and commitment, you can grow a strong tree of mindful well being that infuses each day with more ease.