ways to get more flexible at life
Have you noticed how your mind is a bit like social media sometimes? You thought you were there for a reason, but now there is just a stream of noisy content trying to grab your attention. Sometimes you find yourself lost after being hooked by a story and now you are watching video after video, and can’t remember who you are or what you were wanting to do that day?
In our minds, there is a constant thought-feed. Some is like the news, just doom and gloom, telling you how useless you are, or how scary the world. Some are like the entertainment updates, catching your attention to remind you that you are not pretty enough, or smart enough or rich enough. Then there are those thoughts like the adverts, trying to get you buy into some miracle solution, teasing you with quick-fix solutions. And don’t forget the thoughts that function like the cat videos, soothing and soft they lull you into daydreams. These seductive thoughts steal your time, they are pleasant to fall into, but when you wake up you realise you mourn that loss . At than point the doom and gloom posts start to hook you in again.
This is the mind. It’s what it does.
We all get hooked by it. We all know there are more important things we wanted to be doing with our time. Not being lost in an internet-sized void of our own thoughts. But, we can learn some skills to handle that differently. Skills that help us to make more flexible choices about what we want to focus on and where we place our energy in life.
Now, you might already be saying, that’s too hard. I can’t stop buying these thoughts my mind tells me. Yes, sometimes it is really hard. Sitting down and writing this post was harder for me than letting myself continue to be lost in Facebook … but here we are. The skill is to let it all go by, but it is difficult, so we can do little exercises to get better at it. Here is one:
Assuming that you are in a safe place to try this (as in you are not driving or anything – in which case please stop reading and focus on the road!!!) … sorry, assuming that you are in a safe place, and can take a few moments to yourself.
Stop. Take a few breaths and let yourself relax. You can close your eyes if you like, or just soften your focus.
Now simply watch your mind. Listen to what it’s telling you.
Scroll through the thoughts like they are the constant feed that they are and see what you notice. What sort of posts are trying to pull your attention in? Negative, nasty, inviting, soothing, tempting solutions, criticism, …..
Just scroll. See what next. Does the posts change? Or is it all the same stuff today?
Notice how you are engaging with the feed? Scrolling fast or slow? Getting caught up or just letting it wash over you?
Are you clicking the thoughts your mind is posting for you? Or scrolling past them.
Do you suddenly find yourself lost watching a stream of thoughts that are really of no use to you? Well, just like waking-up on YouTube and wondering what the 4£(! you are watching, stop. make your way back. Take a breath, and see what else comes up on the feed.
The skill is to simply let the thoughts go by.
Scroll, don’t click.
If you can, stop scrolling.
Let your mind just post whatever it wants.
Do this for as short or as long as you like. 20 seconds or 20 minutes. It’s up to you. But when you are ready, open your eyes. Re-orientate yourself to the present and do whatever it is that you actually choose to do.
These skills of watching what the mind does, and unhooking from some of the unhelpful things it tells us, are skills for living a flexible, and meaningful life. There are lots of these skills. I’ll be posting more (rather ironically!) on my Facebook page Two Clicks Psychological Services. If you are interested, please follow … but feel free to scroll and not click if you don’t find it useful.
Two Clicks Psychological Services is the website of Dr Laura Walton, a UK registered Clinical Psychologist who is qualified to provide consultation and psychological therapy, via online videocall. For more details, visit the main page and make a request.