Photo credit: American Things
When you’re worried about something, your thoughts start chasing each other round your head and don’t let up. You run the same scenarios through over and over, as if practicing them would make them turn out right.
Sometimes they’re in the past, sometimes in the future, but in either case – worrying about them isn’t going to fix anything. It’s just going to keep your thoughts in a groove they can’t get out of, upset you, keep you awake at night, and limit your creative response to the situation.
So what can you do?
Here’s a simple technique for calming your racing thoughts down. It’s as easy as watching a movie (and much cheaper).
1. Imagine, first of all, that you’re in a movie theatre. Smell the popcorn, feel the fold-down seat under you, hear some relaxing music over the speakers. On the screen, there’s a peaceful blue sky. Just stare at it for a while, get lost in it, and absorb a little of its peacefulness as the orchestra on the soundtrack plays calm, peaceful music.
2. Now the camera dips down out of the sky into a busy city scene – and it’s speeded up. People and cars (probably a lot of yellow cabs – this is a New York kind of scene) are zipping back and forth on the streets, as the camera’s viewpoint gradually drops down until it’s in among the hurrying people. The soundtrack speeds up and it’s full of hooting horns and beating drums.
3. But you’re a bit detached still, just watching the movie, and it’s like it’s a movie of your racing thoughts. You’re just sitting back and watching them hurry back and forth as if they had somewhere to go. Where could they be going that’s so important? They don’t seem to be getting anywhere.
4. Now the movie’s slowing down to a realistic speed, and the music’s slowing too, and the camera is moving among the people, along the street, and you’re watching the cars go past and the people go past, still a bit detached. You’re watching a movie. Have some imaginary popcorn, it’s low-calorie.
5. And as the music slows and becomes peaceful again, a lot more strings and woodwinds, the picture gradually dissolves into a scene of natural beauty. It can be whatever you like (it’s your movie), but I suggest lots of greenery and some gently moving water, maybe a waterfall, or a calm sea with gentle waves lapping on the beach. Have both if you like, why not?
6. And now the music is fading out and being replaced with the natural sounds of birdsong, moving water, and a gentle wind in the trees. The sky is a beautiful deep blue, calm and peaceful. And you’re in the scene now, walking around, enjoying the beauty and the calm. It’s an ideal environment.
7. And as you enjoy that scene, just gently press your finger and thumb together on whichever hand you like, and connect that feeling to the calm and the peace of the beautiful scene, the way it looks and feels and sounds and smells. And that’s your signal that you can use to return yourself to that same state of mind any time you want. If you find yourself on that New York street with your thoughts rushing everywhere, just press your finger and thumb and take yourself instantly back to the peaceful, relaxing garden. And enjoy.
Mike Reeves-McMillan is a hypnotherapist and health coach. He loves to connect ordinary people with the resources they need to become more integrated, healthier and happier. For more resources to overcome stress and calm yourself down, get his free guide.