Adulting Self-Care

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!

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    Natalie Ann Redman
    August 6, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Great post!

  • Reply
    Dee vadera
    August 3, 2017 at 11:41 am

    thank you for such an honest insight. I certainly have been there and never put it across with the way you have. Its very helpful as I am teaching mindfulness and your breakdown of the process certainly will help me explain what happens. I love the analysis paralysis. So true. Its the first time I came across your post. You speak on behalf of a lot of people. So thank you!

  • Reply
    Jessie
    August 2, 2017 at 6:38 am

    This blog post is genius :) Thank you! It’s straightened out exactly what I’m feeling right now and I’m off to try it… x

  • Reply
    LINKS I LIKE | I N S P I R A T I O N – Yuko Tan
    August 2, 2017 at 4:22 am

    […] How I Take Back Control Of My Mind It’s important to stay in focus, on top of things. Especially for our newer generation folks. But this article reminds me to slow down amidst the pace of doing so, especially when life catches up. Too many things could distract. In fact, it could DISTRESS. So here’s a sincere sharing that will get you thinking, if you’ve lost it. And how to regain so. […]

  • Reply
    Maria
    July 31, 2017 at 9:09 am

    That was so helpful. It just solved such a big problem. I mean it consumed my mind constantly and then after reading this article, I just sat down and instead of trying to deny these thoughts, I just thought everything through and found a solution.
    Thanks a million!
    xx

  • Reply
    theeyetraveler
    July 25, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Yass girl!!! Best feeling ever! I feel like once you’ve trained your mind, it is an utter magician to work with!

    http://www.theeyetraveler.com/ice-cream-pasta/

  • Reply
    fifteen links. - Denim and Donuts, by Becca FarrisDenim and Donuts, by Becca Farris
    July 24, 2017 at 6:41 am

    […] a “perfect” picture and though i understand that, i LOVE it when bloggers get real. brighton and meghan both had really encouraging, really relatable posts this week about handling those […]

  • Reply
    Shannon
    July 22, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    I love that first tip and I don’t think it’s quite like one I’ve heard on other blogs. Stop the thought and analyze it; it’s the opposite of what I normally hear, which is let the thought go. But if you get the “why” of a thought emerging down, it’s less likely to be swirling around in your brain and bothering you. It makes sense!

    – Shannon | http://www.goingwithhappy.com

  • Reply
    Gina
    July 22, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    This speaks to me SO much. Thank you for breaking down your thought process with us. It’s good to be vulnerable in this. I’m glad I came across your blog and I love your honesty. I’ve been trying to strengthen my thought process too. I’ve found that over-reasoning with myself and fixating on things are some of my weak areas. I hope to grow and develop them!

  • Reply
    Uncle Bradley
    July 21, 2017 at 7:03 am

    Buddhism is all about controlling the mind. It’s more of a philosophy than a religion. Meditation is a crucial component to Buddhist philosophy. You can be both a Christian and a Buddhist simultaneously. Try chanting to Tina Turner’s version of Sarvesham Svastir Bhavatu. On iTunes

  • Reply
    Savannah Boyd
    July 20, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    You are just the cutest and sweetest thing!! I love when I have time to read your posts! This one was so great!

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    July 20, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Great post! I am a clinical therapist and you have some great insight. Looking at your thought and taking a step back, as you mention in the beginning of the post, to analyze it without judgement is largely reminiscent of a concept called Mindfulness. That is a more Eastern-based practice used a lot to help treat anxiety and can be wonderful to help differentiate a thought from the feeling it can cause. Its something I try to practice as well!

  • Reply
    Emily Denise
    July 20, 2017 at 8:33 am

    The feeling of the need to build out your entire map before you start completely resonates with me! I’ve been blogging for two years and I always say that it’s the most life-changing, personal-growth inducing experience ever.

    Another thing that has helped me besides just getting my thoughts on paper is to also take a step back from social media (especially when planning content). Obviously I want to continue to support other bloggers, but I really feel a fog come and take over my creative side when I’m spending every day scrolling through Instagram and seeing what everyone else is doing. It’s not wrong to be inspired by other influencers, but they shouldn’t be your sole source of inspiration.

    Thanks for posting this, Brighton!

    XO, Emily
    Epicurean Emily

  • Reply
    Jacqueline
    July 20, 2017 at 5:58 am

    Thank you for this. I have never thought about actually asking WHY and addressing the fear of why I actually put off the task I need to complete. I let anxiety and negative thoughts control how and when I do certain things and the pattern has to end. Thanks for this Brighton! You are so real and I love that about you!

  • Reply
    Ashley
    July 19, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    Currently dealing with this as I wrap up my PhD. I get so overwhelmed I want to just stay in bed all day and not do anything. I’ve found that saying my anxiety out loud and digging through where it’s coming from is the best thing I can do. And just like you said a little action is better than no action at all. If I only write one paragraph today then I have one more paragraph written in my dissertation than I did yesterday! Thanks for always being so real and transparent!

    xox
    Ashley

  • Reply
    Carly
    July 19, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    I was listening to a podcast on my way to work today that mentioned the quote, “imperfect action is better than perfect inaction” and I loved it! Such a good reminder. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  • Reply
    Carly G
    July 19, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Great post I also deal with these issues and have been using mindfulness, which sounds a lot like your approach, to cope.

  • Reply
    Linda
    July 19, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    You’re amazing. Thank you for sharing ❤️

  • Reply
    Marleon
    July 19, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Such an amazing post 😀❤!

  • Reply
    Laura
    July 19, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Thank you for this amazing post!

  • Reply
    Cassie haynes
    July 19, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I can relate to this completely, I am a working mom and constantly my head is full of things I need to do, want to do and need to remember. Lately I have been letting that get the best of me by overwhelming me, so I don’t do it or push it off, which stresses me out and then frustrates me that I let that happen. Nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way at times. I think you’re doing a great job and I always look forward to your posts/insights.

  • Reply
    Melanie
    July 19, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I relate to this so much. I have horrible anxiety which leads to depression because I beat myself up and my mind can just be so mean to me. My counselor always challenges me with these verses. Hopefully they help you too! – 2 Cor 10:5 – “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Phil 4:8 – “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” These def don’t fix things for me but they are helpful to re-frame my thinking like you talked about in your post. If I can take captive my thoughts instead of just stuffing them down and trying to ignore them like I normally do until they overwhelm me and if I can work on only thinking of the true and right thoughts instead of letting my mind beat me up with lies it really helps. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    July 19, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Really relatable! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Avery white
    July 19, 2017 at 10:51 am

    This was really so helpful!!! I am not a blogger, but I can relate so well with those tasks that seem to bring about this crippling procrastination, and honestly, for me that often turns into angst and laziness! So thank you for your honesty and some clear + actionable steps forward.

  • Reply
    Katie
    July 19, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Thanks for sharing this girl!! You are awesome and are doing better than you think you are!

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