Do you feel you’ve lost connection with your true self?
Maybe you mumbled “yes,” surprised by your own voice.
Maybe you wonder “how would I even know?”
Noise interrupts focus
Last year, I feared I was losing mental faculties. Noise overruled my mind’s agility and cognition.
My thoughts flipped from one busy thing to the next — work, bills, dinner, chores, errands — repeating daily. This “to do” list occupied my mind on auto pilot. Work, text and email notifications — ironically cheery pitches of “ping, ding” — jarred me to the present moment several times an hour, every hour.
I’d hurriedly address the interruption because every single thing felt urgent.
I was functioning from anxiety to panic, back to anxiety. Returning to the “to do” list and picking up where I left off was my brain’s default. Emotionally, I rotated between anxious, weepy, tense and irritable.
Noise disrupts relaxation
I consistently felt up against a self-imposed clock and time was running out. My memory became a black hole. By evening, I couldn’t tell you what I ate for lunch earlier in the day.
During a routine checkup my doctor asked “how are you feeling?” I remember reporting, “feeling fine although my heart races when I wake up and my mind rushes until I fall asleep, no problems though.” I thought it worth mentioning; however, not of real concern, just the day-to-day. Going on two years.
She took a long pause and an equally long look at me. After several detailed questions and an unplanned EKG, my doctor informed me “your relaxed state is where most people experience fight-or-flight response.”
Feeling blended and blurred within the ceaseless noise of internal dialog, media, errands, friends, colleagues, etc., I became deaf to my true self. When asked for my opinion, I drew a blank. I sifted through jumbled words attempting to identify an appropriate response.
What did I feel, what did I want? I had lost touch with my spirit.
If you can relate, it is time to take a breather.
Noise reduction strengthens self-connection
By intentionally reducing the amount of distraction in your life — daily, hourly if necessary — you’ll begin to recognize your true feelings again. This is the start of reconnecting with your spirit.
Here are 9 methods for reducing noise (download this cheat sheet).
- Stop placating other people. Constantly appeasing or meeting others’ demands and putting yourself last will deplete your energy.
- Stop halfhearted interests or hobbies. Sure, you want to start the new exercise class, get back to painting, learn pottery and so on. You can’t do it all at once. Scattered interests lead nowhere. Start with one (no more than two) that truly excites you and see where it leads.
- Stop zoning out during your free time with passive “entertainment” (web or channel surfing, social media, drinking, etc.).
- Stop reacting to events outside of your control, allowing them to pull you into a negative space (ahem, politics).
- Stop choosing tasks/errands/chores as constant priorities. Bundle errands and complete several in one outing, clean a little most days instead of spending half of Saturday catching up.
- Stop being possessed by money or worrying about the bank account all. the. time. Know what’s there, make a budget, stick to the budget, use cash to avoid breaking the budget.
- Stop responding instantly to every single text/email/message. Unless it is an emergency, become less available.
- Stop owning others’ personal business. Don’t become the dependable person for chronic complainers who take no ownership of their situation. Becoming overly emotionally invested in others’ problems will cause you to outsource your well-being. Be a friend not a savior; listen, give advice if asked, empathize, be there when necessary but not if a crisis occurs every week.
- Stop making excuses. What’s more important than how you truly wish to fill your time?
These suggestions may sound like the only option is to go into isolation, be an asshole and cast away all social activity. Not so.
Try out one or two of these methods for a week. Use the space to permit yourself time each day to observe your role in your own life. Pay attention.
Identify what has you spinning in circles or always picking up the broken pieces. Anything monopolizing your time no longer deserves it.
Do you already know your sources of noise?
I bet you can easily name 3 sources draining your energy, stealing your time, deteriorating your quality of life and therefore, connection with self.
Make time to meet yourself again.
Take a few minutes and ask yourself “how are you?”
Now, what is your gut response?
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Originally published at medium.com