4 Steps to Calm the Chaos in Your Mind
By Joanna Kleinman, Licensed Certified Social Worker and Relationship Expert
We live in a culture that fosters an overactive mind. It creates worry, frustration, dissatisfaction, sleeplessness, and a feeling that no matter what your life is like, something (or many things) about it needs to be different.
Your mind creates an internal chaotic war, and you think the way to peace is through continuous self-improvement. Or, you fixate on changing or improving your spouse or kids.
Here’s the bottom line: You will never feel the contentment, joy, love and satisfaction you want in your life with this inner battle going on. To stop it, you need to STOP listening to the chronic chaos in your mind.
Inner peace will never come from losing those 10, 20 or 50 pounds, finding the ideal mate, having the perfect job or raising the happiest kids.
The key to your peace and contentment is within you. Recognize that the internal response to your life circumstances determines how you feel and think about yourself and your life, not the circumstances themselves.
So how do you calm your inner chaos? Here are some daily practices to keep it at bay:
Ask Yourself These Questions Each Morning
Every day, as soon as you wake up, ask yourself this question: “What do I need to let go of right now to be calm?” In other words, what thoughts are causing chaos in your mind? Set a timer for 5 minutes and ask yourself this question repeatedly. Write down the responses that come to mind.
Then ask yourself a second question: “What do I have to be grateful for?” Set the timer for another 5 minutes, and write down the responses. What you learn in these 10 minutes has the power to change your whole life!
Note the Physical Responses You Have to Chaotic Thinking
Every thought you have creates a physical response in your nervous system, and an emotional feeling in your body. Yet, you often allow your mind to go wherever it wants to go, without taking control over the direction it goes.
Pay attention to the emotional and physical responses in your body when your mind goes to that chaotic, negative place. Does your neck get tense? Do you have knots in your stomach? Do you feel run down or cranky? These physical reactions are a sign that you need to get your mind in check.
Notice Your Attachment to Outcomes
Focusing on producing specific outcomes in your life makes you fixate on controlling things that you really don’t have any control over. This causes fear and anxiety because the more you try to control something you actually can’t control, the more out-of-control you feel. Then, in order to try to feel more in control, you try even harder to control what you couldn’t control in the first place! Does this sound insane, or what? Ask yourself who or what are you trying to control that you really don’t have any control over?
Choose to Let Go
Sometimes, you’re afraid to let go of the thoughts you fixate on because these fixations become part of your identity. I often hear my clients say, “I don’t know who I would be if I wasn’t trying to fix or control that part of my life.” You focus on past mistakes because you think holding on to the shame and regret will prevent you from making the same mistakes again. You worry about the future because you think worrying about it will somehow let you control its outcomes. To create an immediate sense of inner calm and peace, start a daily practice of letting go of past regret and future worry, and consciously direct your mind to right here, right now.
The main key to managing your internal chaos and creating a peaceful mind is PAYING ATTENTION. Pay attention to where your mind automatically goes, and don’t blindly follow it.
Updated July 6, 2017