Have you ever been in a situation where you were presented with an exciting new opportunity, but when faced with the decision to act, you ended up missing it because you were stuck in a sea of mindless, confusing brain chatter? Should I? Shouldn’t I? Blah, blah, blah.
Odds are, it didn’t take your Egoic Mind more than 2 seconds to immediately give you 4,368 reasons why the opportunity was stupid, scary, embarrassing, dangerous, difficult, implausible or even completely impossible.
Sound familiar? You aren’t alone. There isn’t a single human on this planet that doesn’t hear that same voice, in some version, on a daily, or even minute by minute, basis.
Once our brain senses hesitation, it’s hardwired to feed you a steady diet of fear, with a healthy side of colorful 3D visuals demonstrating chaos and all manner of failure until you call ‘Uncle!’ and slink back to your comfort zone, feeling shamed for having even considered the possibility in the first place.
That caveman cerebral warning system worked great when avoiding potential predator danger from Sabretooth Tigers. But apparently, it
still has no clue that our personal survival platform has shifted from an external threat base to an internal one. We now have more to fear from ourselves than any man-eating beast.
Yet we continue to let the noise of the Egoic Mind keep us from moving towards our personal happiness and well-being. So, how do we quiet that chatter so we can move undaunted toward our best potential?
This has been one of my greatest personal frustrations for many years and only started to ease a bit over the past year or two when I accepted two important things. I’ll save you the scientific brain function explanation portion and keep it simple.
First, I recognized that my mind chatter was simply auto-pilot messaging with one setting. Fear. It wasn’t something I’d be able to completely remove because it’s hard-wired. But, I found ways that I’m about to share with you where I could adjust the volume or completely ignore the bogus information it was providing.
That helped me understand the second ‘aha’ moment. If it’s on auto-pilot, then it can’t have a conscious connection to who I am as a person or consider the personal strengths and other internal resources I know I possess when facing new experiences. It’s only goal is to keep me in a stone age cave of mediocrity.
If I couldn’t trust it to discern what was truly in my best interest, or see my true potential, then why was I letting it be the dominant source affecting all my decisions? Its sole purpose is to simply generate a full sensory fear and flight response when presented with ANY level of change or task outside my normal comfort zone, even if there was no actual danger present.
But, here’s the reality. We cannot grow into our full potential without experiencing change and that includes dealing directly with any potential risk an action might contain.
When I was faced with making a major life decision over a year ago about uprooting my life and moving to another state, I had a big decision to make. Listen to the old auto-pilot-fear-based messaging to avoid risk of failure or trust my heart about where I needed to be for my best long term growth?
These are five of the basic tools I have successfully used to calm (or at least ignore) these negative thought patterns.
1) Be aware of your thoughts. It takes time and work to recognize whether your thoughts are in alignment with your true desires and soul’s best interest or whether they are just old, auto-pilot fear-based messaging that no longer serves you. I recommend keeping track of your thoughts via journaling. When does the fearmonger show up for you? How do you address it? Look for negative reinforcing patterns you may not have been aware of until now and don’t be afraid to shine the light of truth on them.
2) Stay present. Much of our pain, doubt, worry and fear is generated from spending too much time re-living old wounds from the past that we can’t change or envisioning future disasters that never arrive. We always do our best creative and open living by thinking and acting in the present. Where are you spending most of your thought processing time?
3) Give your brain a time-out. Our daily lives can get so busy that it can quickly spin out of control. Our minds just can’t keep up, especially when we’re under pressure to make decisions. Creating a private, quiet space to relax in on a regular basis will help bring your mind into the neutral space it needs to work more efficiently. Any form of meditation or deep breathing can help you get there, even if it’s just a few minutes a day. Studies show the benefits can last for hours, even after you resume your crazy busy schedule.
4) Stop the chatter in its tracks! Just like a computer can get infected with a virus, our minds can get infected with negative or self-defeating chatter. But you don't have to let it sit and fester until it's out of control.
The key here is immediately catch yourself if you start going down that rabbit hole. If you allow that process to continue, it’s twice as hard to lift yourself out of it if you don’t shut it down quickly.
If negative mind creep is coming on, say ‘stop!’ and immediately shift your thoughts to something positive that you are grateful for. Ever notice that when you are feeling gratitude, you simply can't feel bad? No matter how tough your day is, you can ALWAYS find something good to be thankful for. But you have to stay with it! This isn't a once and it's done type of thing.
Practicing this simple act of ‘chatter interruptus’ on an ongoing basis can significantly reduce the Ego-Mind’s long-term ability to negatively influence decisions or keep you in stuck mode. It also allows the truest and best resources within you to rise to the top when you aren’t distracted by fear messaging.