You can try to become more conscious of your thinking in many ways, e.g. contemplating. You can also start writing down, what’s going on in your head. Write freely, without censuring. Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Stanley Block has written a handbook about stress management. He introduces mapping technique to increase awareness of ones thinking patterns. I am introducing here a few of his mapping techniques, the ones you can easily start with.
The idea is that you write down your instant thoughts without censuring and thinking too much. First map I have chosen here is about ruminating. List five situations, where you have got stuck on ruminating. Also try to see the requirementsbehind your thinking circles. You can see examples of thoughts and requirements below in the table.
|Situation||Thinking too much||Requirement|
|I slept badly on a night before my presentation||I thought about the presentation over and over. I got anxious and I couldn’t sleep.||My presentation should be perfect. I should be able to sleep.|
|I bought an expensive car||What if I wasted money? Should I have bought the other model?||I should be successful. I should have a lot of money.|
|Should I continue dating Jack?||He seems so good, but he always does something stupid, that irritates me. He has promised to change, but he never does it.||Jack should change forever. I should make a difficult decision.|
Thinking too much is a sigh of over activated nervous system. After you have finished the table, focus on sensations that will reveal your over activated nervous system: do you feel tensed shoulders or stomach? The situation itself doesn’t necessarily cause stress, but the unconscious requirements do so. Some requirements might be easy to slow down, but some are more persistent and might require unwrapping beliefs and emotional blocks.
Next focus on some sensual experience, that relaxes you, e.g. listen to background voices or rub your fingers together. Feel you weight against the chair, feel the floor below your feet and the pencil in your hand. Don’t hurry. When you feel calmed down, look at your requirements. Start writing again. Write your thoughts about the table you just made, about 1-2 minutes. Feel the pencil and sense the background voices, while you write.
What is holding you back?
Do you feel that you don’t get on with your life? List the most significant issues, that are holding you back from success? Are they your appearance, children, lack of money, education, traumas you have or something else?
Draw an ellipse and write in it “Things holding me back”. Try naming all issues holding you back around it. Circle the issue that is bothering you most. Then write your thoughts around it a couple of minutes.
Then write down, what kind of bodily sensations do you have? How do you usually behave when you are in this kind of situation?
Next create a new map by drawing an ellipse. Place in the middle the same issues that you just handled. Next focus on some sensual experience, that relaxes you, e.g. listen to background voices or rub your fingers together. Feel you weight against the chair, feel the floor below your feet and the pencil in your hand. Don’t hurry. When you feel calmed down, start writing again. Write your thoughts about the map you just made, about 1-2 minutes. Feel the pencil and sense the background voices, while you write.
What is actually holding you back?
Make a third map. Here you can observe, how your world would look, if other people would fulfill all your requirements. Write down your thoughts around an ellipse for a few minutes. For example, I would be happy, if my spouse would always take care of me / if my mother would stop judging me / if my colleagues would do perfect jobs / if my children would always be kind.
How my world would look, if all my requirements would be fulfilled?
Even if all your family members, neighbors, colleagues and friends would behave like you wish, your mind would always figure out new requirements. Being able to slow down and become aware of your requirements will help you in all fields of your life.
Try to become more aware of your requirements:
- Notice bodily sensations signaling over activated nervous system, e.g. tensed muscles, ruminating and start observing requirements related to those signals.
- Practice awareness in simple irritating situations, e.g. waiting in red light, breaking network or phone call, or rude customer service. Afterwards you can shift to more complex relationships and situations.
- Always remember to become aware of your sensations, when you feel irritated, and name your thoughts. Then try to observe and become aware the requirement on the background. Remember that you are requiring things to go in a certain way and people to behave in a certain way.
- When you notice relaxing tensions and better mood, you have succeeded in your awareness development and shut down requirements. If your mind was uncontrollably roaring now it dilutes to disappointment that can be handled.
Tori has a responsible job, she is successful 28-years old CEO. She has agreed wither husband Scott that he would take care of their children and house while Tori creates career. First the arrangement seemed to work well, but later Tori started to get annoyed. Dinner was not ready, when she came home, toys were all around and Scott had forgotten to pick her clothes from laundry. Scott did his best, but he always seemed to forget something. Tori said, “Finally I didn’t even want to go home, because I always became angry and sad there”. She started to learn how to increase awareness of her body and mind and create maps. She was good with it and after many maps, she managed to change her life. In her first map she handled her requirements on Scott. It was full of “Scott is supposed to do like this, he should not do like this, he should… Lastly Tori did a map about “What it would be like, if Scott would fit all my requirements?After writing this map Tori started to cry and then laugh. He had again written “he is supposed to do like this, he should not do like this, he should.. but in the end, she wrote “he would be my slave”. Behind her tears she stated, that “I am changing into a slave driver, and that is exactly what I hate in men”. Tori continued to practice mind and body awareness daily. She got on with her career and it also become more fun for her to get back home. “We are closer with Scott than ever before”, she said.