Learn How To Get Out Of Your Head And Get Things Done
We all get stuck in our heads sometimes – some of us more than others. Although it’s wonderful to ponder life, the problem is that the majority of our thoughts are not so upbeat. When we’re in mind-wandering mode (a.k.a., “in your head”), thoughts usually turn to self-limiting pep talks, how much money we need, how much debt we have, what’s due at work and so on. We often get caught up in thinking about everything we don’t have, things we really want to do but can’t afford or we start rationalising our behaviour. We think about setting goals, and get desecrated because our minds are wondering in a million different directions.
We all have those moments (or days) when we get in our head too much. Our constant stream of thought is running the show. And as legendary life coach Tony Robbins says, “When you get in your head, you’re dead.” We get stuck in the past: I can’t believe she did that to me. We future trip: I’m going to look like such a loser at this big meeting. We overthink a decision to death: Should I do this or should I do that? What about…?
You might recognize this in yourself. For instance, you might you lie awake at night, recalling a painful memory, reliving it again and again, hoping to extract an important lesson. Or you might get into imaginary arguments with yourself, wondering what some person might say and trying to find powerful counter arguments for each point made.
In each case, you get lost in your own head, fantasizing about a painful scenario, while calling forth hurtful emotions like sadness, fear, anger, or shame. And if this wasn’t enough, you also lose sight of what is happening right in front of you, making you miss out on opportunities unfolding in the present moment.
“The impulse to get pulled into our own heads comes from a desire to avoid suffering, as well as from a deep desire for orientation. Simply said, we want to know where we are in life. And unfortunately, our minds often try to answer this question more by ruminating about the past or worrying about the future than by observing what is actually here, now. That’s a sure pathway to getting stuck in our heads.”
If we want to stop making things difficult for ourselves, learn to get out of our heads, and reconnect with the present moment, we need to reclaim and train our attention.
Although it may feel like thoughts “pop in your mind” without you having any say in the matter, you do have a choice.
Here are a few ways to shift obsessive overthinking into something more productive
#1 Assess the value.
Not all thinking is counterproductive. If you’re thinking through a problem and coming up with concrete ideas or solutions relatively quickly, it’s a useful exercise. However, if you’re going over the same issues again and again in hopes of gaining clarity or some final answer that doesn’t seem to come, you’re getting stuck. No amount of thinking can guarantee good decisions or positive results, and tough situations happen regardless of whether you’ve anticipated and thought through them or not. In these cases, the time spent over thinking would be far better spent taking action.
Ask yourself: Is this within my power to change? If not, let it go and move on to the next challenge.
#2 Challenge your thinking
Allow yourself a moment to let your fears go wild. Assume the worst-case scenario becomes reality, and think for just a few minutes about how you’d manage that situation. Another helpful question: Will this matter in a few months? If so, could you use what you’ve learned to change and grow as a person? Usually the result of these lines of thinking makes clear that the issue isn’t worth dwelling on.
#3. Remember to stay in the ‘now’
Help yourself by constantly remembering this: The past: That sh*t’s over. The future: It’s being created in the present moment by your thinking. Being mindful and aware will help you stay in the present moment of what’s important. Now is all you’ve got — it’s all you ever have. Cue huge exhale!
#4. Recite a mantra and stick with it
Mantras are tremendously helpful, as they can instantly center us. My current one is a little long, but whenever I repeat it, I notice a sharp shift in my emotional state. I say to myself or out loud: “I am the creator of my life. Whatever I think about creates my reality.”
It makes me less apt to think about the crazy stuff, including thoughts like “my life is a complete failure.” It also encourages me to focus on the present moment.
#5 Get grounded
Trying to force thoughts out of your mind usually backfires. Instead, “When you feel disconnected from your body and stuck in your head, try something to get grounded that’s enjoyable to you.” Some options to consider: exercise, meditating, cooking, or reading — whatever brings your focus to the present moment – do that.