If you’ve ever had a racing thought running through your head with reckless abandon, raise your hand. My goodness that’s a lot of hands! Silly question, right? Who hasn’t? Some people describe it as the “monkey mind”, constantly filled with noisy chatter, seemingly without an off switch. Overthinking is a reality in today’s world. It’s an actual thing with millions of people suffering from it on a daily basis. I liken it to any modern news program where there’s a talking head (or three or four) and a ticker tape of written information running along the bottom of the screen, and off to the right there’s a video clip of what the talking heads are yammering on about, and there are three more boxes at the top showing you something else and then the loud, obnoxious “news music” comes on. Talk about sensory overload, my god, that’s a lot of nonsense going on all at once! I, personally, can’t cope with it. I can’t handle having my brain thrust into what feels like a seizure generator. Nah, man, no thanks. Not for me.
But that’s a pretty accurate description of what overthinking feels like: complete and total out-of- control sensory overload in the brain in the form of unchecked streams of thought. So what’s the remedy? Well….people certainly opt to seek out prescription anti-anxiety meds or turn to self- medicating, but these are only solutions for masking the symptoms. In other words, the monkey mind is still going at 1,000 miles per hour it’s just that the awareness of it is dulled temporarily. So let’s explore some other options. Instead of running away from the chatter, let’s do what’s unpopular and move towards it. Let’s be really bold and assertive and go straight at it. Let’s pull it apart, one thought at a time.
There’s wisdom in the biblical verse “capture every thought”. My interpretation of this is that you first realize that you have dominion over your mind, over your thoughts. When you wish to examine them you simply grab them as they come through, one at a time. You then ask yourself, “Does this thought add to my life or subtract from it?” If it’s a positive, beneficial thought, thank it and release it. If it’s not, let it go and replace it with one that’s positive and beneficial. Make a conscious choice to choose your thoughts. Take them down off the shelf, especially if there seems to be a recurring theme of negativity or self-destructive thinking. Dust them off and examine them closely. If you’re overthinking a problem ask yourself “Do I have a solution?” and, if yes, then great, solve it! If no, then great, let it go! No amount of overthinking is ever going to create a solution. Let it go. Give your mind the space to allow a solution to form and it will.
If you’re overthinking the past, be it mistakes, regrets, loss, etc., ask yourself again “Is this adding to my life or taking away from it? Is reliving a painful memory doing me any good or is it causing me harm? Am I choosing to punish myself because I was raised to believe that guilt and shame are necessary elements in my life?” If yes, ask yourself how exactly do guilt and shame create a better person in you? Has beating yourself up over and over made you better, stronger, more loving or more compassionate? I’m sure you were taught to forgive others, but what about yourself? The ONLY thing you should do in the presence of a repetitive stream of thought that is bringing feelings of guilt and shame is to accept the responsibility for what you did and forgive yourself. Forgive yourself as many times as you have to for you to not experience the guilt and shame anymore. Forgive yourself as deeply and as thoroughly as you can, like your life depends on it because it does. Punishing yourself repeatedly and over a long period of time for mistakes made while you were in your confusion are not in any way, shape or form beneficial to you or anyone around you. Please know this. Forgive, love and accept yourself completely and move on. We create our own prisons with this toxic thinking and it’s up to us to set ourselves free.
Now, practice, practice, practice. Remind yourself often that you are NOT a victim of your past, your circumstances, and certainly not of your thinking. Correct your thinking and watch how quickly everything else falls into place. The more you practice being aware of a stream of thought and using your ability to change it from negative to positive, the sooner you’ll create a habit of stopping negativity in its tracks. This is true alchemy and you are the alchemist. You control your thoughts and you have the ability to change your life with self-forgiveness and self-love. Think about this: who is better able to help someone in need, a person who’s riddled with guilt and shame over his past or someone who has overcome his past and healed using the simple alchemy of self-love and forgiveness? Now, surely, the unburdened man is better equipped to take on the struggle of his brother or sister.
I love the saying “At the end of the day we are all just walking each other home”. It’s so magical and comforting. As we stop being powerless and refuse to be victims of our own minds; as we change our thinking and we create space for healing within ourselves, we also create an environment for others to heal as well. Exponentially, we create real heaven on earth and it all starts with just a thought. It’s absolutely beautiful. Meditate on this, my friends, until we meet again next week…Namaste.