Earlier this week I posted this comment on Facebook: Okay, time to say ‘shut up head’ … do you ever tell yourself that? I was amazed at how many comments came back. Some said “all the time,” one said “every 10 seconds,” one said, “yes, but not usually in time to say ‘shut up, mouth!'”
I find it fascinating that with all the self-help and positive focus we have in our culture, that we still struggle so intensely with the stories we tell ourselves – about ourselves – and how much work we still need to do. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just lay aside our insecurities, our self-doubt and the fears that hold us back from being all we were intended to be on this earth?
Even though I know I’m <mostly> loved and accepted for me, I still second guess many of my words and actions. My daughter teases me about how long I take to write a comment on my Facebook page because I want to make sure it’s worded correctly, has a positive impact and isn’t whiny or negative. She says, “Mom, don’t over think it, just write!” Often while I’m laying in bed reflecting on my day I’ll re-visit conversations and shake my head, wishing I’d said something differently. I chide myself for not being grateful enough, for missing opportunities to express love and gratitude…the list goes on.
I felt so much better knowing I wasn’t alone with my “Shut UP Head” syndrome, but it quickly became apparent we need to be easier on ourselves than we allow, and that if we want to change those lovely chats we engage in, we need to DO differently. The patience, understanding and grace we extend to others, we seemingly rip to shreds in our heads when we have our own inner conversations. Trust me, I know there are times those chats keep us from acting in sheer stupidity, however it’s the war zone against our own selves that needs some peacekeeping.
How do I propose that we do some peacekeeping in our minds? I’m sure it’s different for all of us, but these are some tips that came to mind that may be worth a try:
1. Journalling | Even the professionals suggest this to be a powerful tool to assist in processing our thought life. I have heard this repeatedly throughout the years and yet it is one thing I struggle with – putting my mind on paper. Go figure hey?
2. Reading or listening to positive input | It stands to reason that what we focus on becomes who we are. It also makes sense that if we’re struggling with our thoughts, we need to redirect them to what is going to help us, not stay stuck inside our heads with the not-so-good stuff. It’s like kids when they’re hurt…redirect their attention and it often distracts them from their ‘owie’.
3. Get active | Nothing like a little exercise to release those endorphins and get some ‘happy’ back into our bodies. I love that science backs this up as a quick and easy way to boost our moods and assist in positive mental health.
4. Call someone | No, don’t text them. Don’t email them. CALL them. You know who you can turn to when you need a listening ear or someone who will help you gain perspective. Ask already. Don’t whine and complain if you’re not willing to reach out when you need to.
5. Clean something | My house gets a quick overhaul when I’m frustrated or angry. It’s one of the best uses of my frustration there ever was! I don’t know what works for you, but it’s definitely a positive outcome for me. Reading this makes me wish that I’d get frustrated more often so my house would stay clean!! (haha not really)
6. Sleep | So often we don’t attribute lack of sleep to our inner conversations, never mind our obvious lack of functionality. Have a nap (if you’re geared to handle them) or go to bed early and the whole world tends to take on a different outlook. It may not be the rose coloured glasses outlook you were hoping for, but it’ll more than likely be an improvement from what it was!
7. Ask questions | Ask yourself if what you’re fixating on will matter 5 years from now. If it won’t, ask yourself why you’re stewing over it. If it will matter, decide what action you need to take towards a resolution or plan, then write it down so your brain can let it go. For now.
So often the stories we tell ourselves do not match reality. These 7 steps are just thoughts of what may work. Each of us is different and we need to develop a ‘what-works-for-me’ plan to handle the head noise that beleaguers us.
What do you do when your head won’t shut up? Please share your thoughts so we can all benefit from your process!