Saturday, June 27, 2020

Getting Out of Your Head

I found the following information here at the Forbes website. 

Thank you to all of you who took the time to comment on my blog post about my recent panic attack. It helps me so much.

1.  Get ready to "go there"
This sounds like a way to do exactly the opposite of getting out of your head, but it’s not. Getting in touch with your internal stuff allows you to process it, which lets you move on from it. The reality is that most people, especially depending on your generation, grew up with the notion that it’s better to hide your feelings than to talk about them. This, of course, is one of the most destructive ideas to carry with you, because it means that thoughts never get processed – they just spin around your head ad infinitum. But addressing them by talking about them (with friends or better yet, a psychologist) is one way to step out of them.

2.  Be a storyteller, not a ruminator
The danger of introspecting too much, of course, is that it can easily turn into full-blown rumination – an endless cycle of self-examination and worry that goes nowhere. Rumination is like that middle-of-the-night thinking — when the rest of the world is hidden by darkness and the mind descends into a spiral of endless reaction to itself. Instead, you should think of yourself like a storyteller, trying to fit events into a general framework, rather than pouring over each little piece of information. Introspection is a closed system. Patterns of growth only emerge by opening yourself to input from others. 

3.  Be slightly inappropriate
This may be the best method of all, though it's easier said than done. When someone asks you a question that’s a little too personal, you may have noticed that after the initial surprise, it actually feels good to answer it, because it opens the conversation up to another level. The truth is that most of us actually want to be more open and connected with one another, but just don’t know how to go about it – it’s so ingrained in us not to offend anyone and not to over-share, that we end up being too conservative.

4.  Talk to a stranger
In the same vein, building connections with others – even if you don’t actually know them – is another good way to step outside your head. recent study at the University of Chicago found that when participants were asked to talk to a total stranger on the train or bus, doing so brightened their moods considerably – and even more amazingly, it also brightened the mood of the stranger. Again, this is probably because we really do want to connect with one another more – even with strangers – but just aren’t sure if others want to. It turns out they do.

5.  Deactivate the "Me Centers" of your brain by meditating
Studies from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, UCLA, Stanford, and UMass, to name a few, are showing the effects of meditation training on brain function and brain structure. But among its more striking benefits, meditation seems to deactivate the “me centers” of the brain, the areas that are active when we’re having thoughts related to the self – self-referential thoughts. Meditating has also been shown to help treat other related mental health issues, like depression, addiction, anxiety, and attention deficit disorders, as well as to improve concentration, attention, and cognitive performance. So give it a try: Start with sitting, and focusing on your breath for five minutes. If your mind wanders, just observe that wandering, with a sense of curiosity, and pull it back to your focus. That part – the pulling the mind back, again and again – is really the heart of the practice.

6.  Focus on someone else
Lots of people have said that helping others is actually a selfish deed because it’s such a good way of helping yourself. Helping others helps you because it forces you to get out of your own schtick and focus on something outside yourself. When you actually set out to spend your time on another person or cause, you’ll find that it’s a very good way to move the focus away from you.

7.  Learn what mindfulness really is
If you still can’t seem to hop outside your head, try a few minutes of mindfulness whenever you notice yourself getting stuck there. Many mindfulness experts have said that the most important thing to remember is that thoughts don’t have to be believed – they come and go into our heads like clouds, often very randomly. So if you can just acknowledge a thought non-judgmentally and then let it go, you’ll be in good shape. The letting-go part is, of course, the hard one, but with practice, it can happen. And then your thoughts lose their power over you.

So if you find yourself in an endless cycle of rumination, step back and try one of these methods. Talk with a friend or a psychologist; meditate for five minutes; ask another person (or stranger, if you’re feeling bold) how they are; share a little (too much?) about yourself; introspect curiously into your thoughts and then try to let them go.
The mind is a pretty cool place – but when it gets to be too much, it’s important to know how to take a break from it.


Li said...

Thanks Jalna. Went to the Forbes site and I liked when the article compared our thoughts to "clouds" that we could just let pass through and out of minds. Relaxing, yeah?

Chet Colson said...

Jalna, lot of great information out there. I like to listen to podcast by on peak performance, positive thinking, etc.Lot of what we think and believe in our mind is not true. Dr Joe Dispenza and John Assaraf offers insightful reasons why we think and act.Anyway, I'm glad you're feeling better

Anonymous said...

Good advice. I find talking with a professional makes a big difference. Praying for you and your family.


jalna said...

Li, I liked that too.

Chet, thanks, I'll look up your recommendations.

Izsmom, thank you. I'm thinking about seeking help later.

Anonymous said...

Anti anxiety meds and professional help sooner then later will bring you relief.

Just one perspective from experience:)

jalna said...

Anon, thank you for the advice. I really appreciate it.