Self - July 19, 2017

How I Take Back Control of My Mind

hiking at jenny lake in jackson hole, WY

I’ve been trying really hard to slow down lately. And I don’t necessarily mean slow down in the sense of getting LESS done or doing LESS things – although it sometimes looks that way, or ends up that way. But I’m talking about slowing down my thinking and being more in control of WHERE my mind goes – and for how long it camps out there.

I’m talking about slowing down (and controlling) my thoughts. My mind is pretty much always running at a million miles an hour and that crazy, inner voice never shuts up. “She” (the voice in my mind, ha) is constantly saying stuff and is so quick to comment, criticize, or overwhelm me.

Since that’s annoying, and quite honestly, exhausting, I’ve been trying to somewhat open the dialogue with her/it/my mind. Here’s what I’ve been doing to deal with it…

First Step to Regaining Control

With each new thought, I’ve been taking a new approach. Instead of just letting the thought lead to another thought or allowing it to “take over” in a sense, I’ve been taking a step back to look AT it rather than letting it just happen. Side note: I’m trying really hard to explain but this is actually hard to put in to words. Let me continue to try.

With each thought, I’ve been taking it for what it is, carefully acknowledging it – looking at it, creating some distance from it – and then doing what I can to process it and decide if I want to do something about it.

I’m trying to pay more attention to and accept my feelings, thoughts, and fears, rather than shrugging them off or finding ways to ignore them. My tendency is to let all the thoughts swirling around in my head control and overwhelm me into either overthinking whatever it is that I’m worried about or just straight up being negative. I think it’s called “analysis paralysis” actually. Whatever the case, this “struggle” is a daily battle for me and usually results in me doing nothing…and then getting stressed about the fact that I’m doing nothing.

Distinguishing the Task That Overwhelms You

For example, over the weekend, I was sitting on the couch attempting to plan out my upcoming editorial calendar. I always put this off until the last minute and usually feel pretty overwhelmed at the thought of it. So instead of letting that feeling “overwhelm” me into not making a decision (I ALWAYS DO THIS), I’m instead taking that thought, recognizing it for what it is, and then asking myself why I feel overwhelmed by it. Instead of letting it control me, I’m taking it and then dealing with it. Otherwise, nothing will get done.

I thought it might be helpful to walk you through my specific thought process for this issue – I don’t know, maybe you’ll find it interesting? Maybe the same problem happens to you? But if anything, maybe reading my thought process will encourage you to do the same for whatever your “thing” is that you’ve been avoiding.

So, I asked myself, why do I feel this way about planning out my editorial calendar? I forced myself to be honest and answer truthfully even if I don’t like how it sounds or whatever. I just let my thoughts flow and I wrote it down. I think writing it down is key so you can create some distance from it and actually be able to assess it OUTSIDE of your busy head.

Mentally Organizing the Task that Overwhelms You

Like I said, planning my editorial calendar is constantly that *thing* for me. But no matter your thing, you can walk yourself through it like so. Here’s my thought process of what it stresses me out, or why I push it away in my head:

  • Fear of Missing out or Limiting Myself – I’m afraid to put things into writing or maybe have commitment issues. I’m afraid to put it on the calendar because I’m afraid I’ll be steering my business in the wrong direction or I’ll be writing about the wrong things. I’m afraid that a decision I make will pigeon hole me or somehow block out opportunities or something. And as I’m sitting here writing this, I realize how ridiculous that sounds. But it’s true. It’s been this way since the very beginning of my blogging adventure.
  • Fear of not being creative enough – I’m afraid I won’t have all my best ideas at one time. Like I’m nervous I won’t be able to think of everything in one sitting so I should keep it open for when I have random spurts of inspiration. That’s silly because I can always change or move things around, so I shouldn’t let this hold me back. Plus, waiting for something when you don’t know when it’ll come is setting yourself up for failure. It’s like not being happy until you make a million dollars – the growth comes in being happy WHILE you work for that.
  • Fear of losing enthusiasm – I’m afraid that if I start writing about a new topic, I won’t be able to keep it up. So I’m under the crazy notion that I can only write post 1 of the series if I ALREADY know what posts 2-12 are going to be about. Which puts a significant amount of pressure on getting started, if you can imagine. Why do I feel that way? I don’t really know, I guess fear of failure or following through? Or I feel like I have to build out the ENTIRE map before I can get started? It’s silly.

Dealing With the Task That Overwhelms Me

Any decision is better than no decision, right? Right. (I’ve been repeating this throughout taking control of my mind.)

I have to tell myself that doing something is better than nothing. Starting somewhere is better than not starting at all. Making the wrong decision is better than making no decision. Committing to not-so-ideal blog post topics is better than the indecisive “stuck” place I am now. Putting something on my calendar will help me make decisions to plan bigger and better content and not always be doing things so last minute. And decisions can usually (especially when it’s something like a blog post) be modified along the way.

Even if I just write down general topic ideas for each day of the month – I don’t have to have it all set in stone. And I don’t have to have it all figured out before the month even starts. It’s okay to take things week by week, but it’s also important to at least spend a little bit of time planning and thinking about the bigger picture (which is relative here since we’re just talking about a month).

Always Remembering That It’s *Just* Fear

I think step one in overcoming any fear-based hurdle is acknowledging that it’s fear-based. And then calling out and identifying what you’re afraid of is the next step (like I did above). Identifying my fears – and calling it out for what it is – gives me a sense of self-control and power over them and I actually feel less overwhelmed and more able to do something about it. Identifying my fears empowers me to make a decision despite them. There’s something so powerful about diagnosing your thoughts and creating some distance from them – or even being able to look at them rather than just subject yourself them.

What about you? How do you overcome fear? Or what is that one thing that you’ve been putting off lately because you’re scared you won’t do a good job?

PS: outfit details for this workout look are in my Jackson trip post!