As I get acclimated again to the east coast after living in California for five years, I’ve noticed a few things about our metro area. For starters, we’re considerably stressed and very much in a hurry to get somewhere…wherever, that may be. Now let’s take a deeper look at this stress and the human mind, especially since that’s where stress originates. This particular subject has always interested me as I’ve been fascinated with the mind and how our thought patterns affect our lives.
With so much to do and think about on a daily basis, we can easily fall victim to the overactive mind. An overactive mind has the choice to either focus on thoughts that are constructive or destructive. When you explore these thoughts in terms of a ratio – how many would be considered positive vs. negative? And how many of these thoughts are actually repetitive vs. being new ones? Destructive thoughts are experienced in varying degrees depending on our circumstances and this type of thinking is called “worry”. Whether it’s losing sleep from worrying about your job, your child’s school grades, your bills, losing weight or your aging parents, just to name a few, we can get stuck in a pattern that’s hard to break free from. In fact, it can become a discipline that feels familiar like an old friend, but that doesn’t make it beneficial. As a matter of fact, it can wind up costing you a very high price. The results from this mindset will not be favorable as it would be impossible to create a positive outcome from this starting place.
So why worry? Worry is fear based. When you feel like you have no control, worry can give you the illusion that you are actually doing something about the situation. We react to this fear in hopes of being prepared for that “unknown danger” rather than risk being caught off guard, which is our biggest fear that stems from our primal brain. However, the truth about worry is that it keeps you disconnected from the present moment as you project in the future about various worse case scenarios. In reality, you are giving your energy to a negative conclusion repeatedly due to the fact that these thoughts are repetitive in nature. Just one negative thought alone can wreak havoc let alone a multitude of them. When you consider the average person’s brain produces 35-48 thoughts per minute and 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day, we can’t afford this high level of frequency. With this combination, our brain becomes entrenched with a mindset that causes our bodies to move into a catabolic state creating a variety of complaints including stress related illnesses. When this happens the energy in your body becomes depleted and begins breaking you down. It’s no wonder that over time this will affect your health, which can take considerable time and effort to recover.
However, becoming drained energetically will not only cause health issues. This type of thinking consumes your precious time and can cost you money when you aren’t focused in more positive and productive ways. Worry also keeps your thinking closed and rigid, which limits your creative potential ultimately affecting every area of your life. When you consider the amount of time, money and energy that gets wasted on thoughts that don’t go anywhere, you realize just how futile and unproductive this type of behavior really is. So is it really worth it? Imagine what you could achieve if all that time was used for positive thinking.
You have the ability to retrain your mind. With practice you can be the master of your mind rather than the servant. In fact, just as easily as you can be disciplined in worried thoughts, which are negative – you can flip the switch and reverse your thinking in order to discipline yourself to have expansive, positive thoughts. This is where “faith” comes in. Having faith allows you to put trust in the knowledge and hope that everything will work out as planned. There is no need to have your will and control get in the way. This occurs when you put your trust in the Universe or in God. Faith is where we must place our power.
When you start to worry you can help yourself snap out of it by canceling the negative thought. Use a word, phrase and/or an action to stop the worry. Replace it with a positive thought or action step. For example…you can say, “Stop it, or I stop this silly thinking now, I release these thoughts because I choose peace, or I release these thoughts because I love myself.” The action step can consist of writing the specific worry in a journal in an effort to release it. You can also change your physical position – stand up, breathe deeply, go for a short walk outside, massage your hands/feet, or choose another activity that brings you comfort. Make a commitment to follow these steps for 30 days in order to establish this new behavior.