The mind can be like a prison, trapping you with incessant and noisy thoughts, many of which serve no useful purpose and some of which are actually quite limiting. Whenever your mind is left unmanaged, it will run riot in this way, resulting in less mental clarity and peace, and more stress and confusion.
Conversely though, your mind can also liberate you once you learn how to manage it. To improve your mental clarity and overall effectiveness in any area of life, you can counter the effects of a noisy, riotous mind with these 3 simple techniques below. These are based on having conscious awareness of your mind’s behaviour, and providing leadership to it.
1. Box Your Thoughts
As you go about your daily life, there are many things vying for your attention, both positive things (e.g. goals, aspirations and adventure) and negative things (e.g. stress triggers, worries and challenges).
All of these things can end up bleeding together into one amorphous mass of thoughts overlapping, as your mind jumps from one thing to the next. You might find yourself at work and trying to concentrate, but worrying about a relationship problem you’re having at home. Or you find yourself at home trying to relax and enjoy dinner with your family, and you notice your mind is off calculating some financial issue or stressing about work.
Instead of allowing your mind to jump around from topic to topic, where you end up following whatever thoughts pop up automatically, it’s helpful to box your thoughts into defined groups. This is a mental exercise to help you separate thoughts so you can focus on a chosen box at any given time.
First write down all the major things going on in your mind, then separate them into groups (e.g. work, finance, travel, family, health). Now visualise in your mind that there are literally distinct physical boxes for each topic, containing all your thoughts.
When you are at home and thoughts of work arise, acknowledge that it’s escaped the “work box”, and imagine putting it back there where you will address it when you are at work. Imagine opening up the “home box” instead. When at work, if worries about personal relationships arise, imagine opening up the “relationship box” and putting it back in there, and open up your “work box” instead.
This is all about what you choose to give your energy and attention to in the present moment, and knowing that you absolutely will address those other thoughts but at the appropriate time and place when you consciously choose to, not when it randomly creeps into your mind and forces you to.
2. Weed Out Clutter Thoughts
Just like removing weeds from a garden so that the plants and flowers have space to thrive, you can also practise weeding out thoughts that clutter your mind, to allow space for creativity, intuition and precision.
Fearful thoughts, stressful thoughts, anxious thoughts, worrisome thoughts, rehearsing future scenarios (not in a good way), rehashing the past (not in a good way)… these are weeds in the garden of your mind and sap your mental clarity.
This technique is about using your conscious awareness to watch your own mind, objectively observing the types of thoughts you are having, and deciding to weed out thoughts that simply serve no purpose or are destructive. You do this by calling them out and denying their value, then choosing something more productive to focus on. For example, you’re preparing to do an awesome presentation at work, and you have a fearful thought about it going wrong. You respond this way within your mind, “This thought is a weed, and it has no value. I pull it from my mind. I choose instead to focus on how prepared and confident I am for this presentation”.
The more consistently you do this, catching the weeds, removing them and refocusing, the more natural it becomes and the more you hone your mental clarity.
3. Dedicated “Reflection for Resolution” Time
Strong thought patterns that are denied will only continue to pop back into your mind at inconvenient times, disrupting your clarity, until you address them. No matter how many times you box thoughts to be addressed at a later and more appropriate time, or weed thoughts that are not helpful, sometimes you really need to sit down and do a dedicated reflection of what is going on inside of you, for the purpose of resolving the root cause issue and achieving personal growth through the process.
Some thoughts repeat and repeat because they are messengers, pointing to some internal block that requires your attention. They are helpful in this way, by showing you that something more is possible for you. For example, recurring fear thoughts might be a shout-out that it’s time to go beyond your comfort zone, or recurring thoughts about a clash with someone in the past might be a shout-out that it’s time to forgive and move on, or mend things in that relationship.
For that reason, set aside 1-2 hours of silence and solitude, where you can journal any thoughts that seem to plague you. Allow yourself to write down whatever comes up until you have exhausted your internal dialogue about it. Then ask yourself, “Why is this thought plaguing me? What fear do I have? What area of myself or my life am I ignoring? What needs rebalancing? Is there something I need to change or act upon? What questions am I not asking or answering? What is life asking me to pay attention to? What else is possible for me if I were to resolve this block?”
Bernadette Logue is an Author & Transformation Coach, and the founder of Pinch Me Living. She supports clients worldwide to unleash their inner peace, freedom and success, both personally and professionally. Visit Bernadette at www.pinchmeliving.com and receive free affirmation and meditation audio resources, and join her Youtube community for weekly mind liberation.