One of our greatest national pastimes reported to me by clients when booking an appointment, or in the therapy room, is ‘mind-chatter’, also known as ‘monkey-mind’.
When a busy mind consists of ruminations that have little basis on reality, and are left unchecked, we miss out on life here and now, the only place we can ever really be!
Following mindlessly a path to emotional ruination?
Imagination is more readily accessible than the reality. This is fairly easy to understand isn’t it?
If I choose to consider something requiring no action, in this moment, then am I where I ‘should’ be? Or, am I accessing a convenient and imagined place in the future, or the past, where it can be toyed with – most often negatively:
- I hope the weather will be good for our camping trip in the summer, because if it’s not…
- I wonder what I’ll get for Christmas this year? (It’s the month of May!)
- I wish I knew if I will still be in business next year.
- It’ll be alright when/if… new car, house, relationship, job, holiday… (It rarely is!)
Alternative possibilities, if these thoughts did pop in, before returning to the present:
- If the weather doesn’t hold for the camping trip, we’ve researched plan b (an action done) and we’ll act on that then if we need to. (Let go!)
- What the hell am I doing thinking about Christmas – in spring? (Let go!)
- If business continues this way, I’ll need to take action now. (Take action, or let go until you do have an action!)
- That’s a nice car, I’d like that. (Appreciation, nice, now let go!)
These are maybe a little silly for examples, but the premise is true. If we ‘allow’ (or choose) to include (and encourage) within our daily 60-80 thousand thought impressions, the ruminations of a time passed (or a time to come) we are busy elsewhere… we are elsewhere… we are mindless and unavailable to the present moment which really does need your attention – for a whole host of reasons!
When you practice being present, you are alive to opportunities, and you can see with greater clarity that which may require your attention. This allows the mind to be calmer, more efficient, less threatened, ergo, less anxious and stressed.
The future is created by what you do in THIS moment…
If we allow ourselves to cease ‘mind reading’ those around us – for what they might have thought, what they might think or how they might react – we can respond compassionately to ourselves and others with a truth about that moment; rather than react, we can respond… appropriately. When we do this, we have less to ruminate about… clever!
Research has shown that rumination is associated with a variety of negative consequences, including depression, anxiety, addictive behaviours, binge-drinking and binge-eating.
Why does rumination lead to such harmful results?
“Not surprisingly, ruminating conjures up more negative thoughts. It becomes a cycle.”
In low moods, and depressive states, we are even more prone to ruminate. One of the tools, to combat this, is to return to the moment. With a little mindfulness, and skilled acceptance of challenged thoughts and ruminations, we can reduce the incidence and impact of anxiety and low-mood states. This makes way for aspirational thinking; hope for the future without dwelling on it.
My number one tip for reducing unnecessary mind-chatter is… learn the very simple art of ‘mindfulness’. When you have this ‘on board’, you have created the space to cognitively and behaviourally adjust; to think about your thoughts and come home to the truth of each moment.
Learning positive thinking; re-framing events, and your reactions to them, are also useful along with gratitude. More on these and other aspects for your healthier, more peaceful mind on request.