I have always been a thinker. An intense, extremely internal, overly critical, super analytical thinker. I can have a full conversation weighing the pros and cons of going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, along with the calculated rate of return the invested cold steps in the dark would yield for hours. I am (well used to be) the girl that would stare at a text message for much longer than the reader would ever give it once I hit the ‘send’ button. This is because I was caught up in my thoughts. Honestly, it wasn’t as much my thoughts that I was caught up in, but my thoughts about all that could go wrong with whatever I was doing that did me in. My biggest problem was that I didn’t believe in me — in the power of me — and, thus, this way of thinking consumed the majority of my thought life. Though I did have success in general areas, the tiresome and weary hours I spent doubting myself was always a battle that I struggled with before anything was, or even after, it occurred in my life.
“To catch a thought before it becomes a feeling that determines an action is a skill of a lifetime. Thoughts are the seeds that produce the fruit: actions. — — ‘And So I Prayed’ by Lydia Elle
The realization that I could choose what I think was a novel one when this came to me. I was standing in my kitchen and was inundated with a mirage of thoughts about a particular event that could happen (remember I overanalyzed the possibilities, so no, the thing hadn’t even happened yet) and was desperate for a break from the madness. I wanted to believe. I needed to believe. I needed to chose what I believed. And with this one quote I realized that I had a choice in all of those decisions. Just because something was attempting to hurt me did not mean that I needed to let it keep doing such. Just because someone was trying to anger me did not mean that I had to allow it. And, more importantly, just because something may do any of those things didn’t mean I needed to lose countless hours of thinking (also known as worrying) about that possibility.
About a year ago, my daughter had a spell with nightmares. After watching a cartoon that was supposed to be safe for her little imagination (a whole other conversation) she was terrified to go to sleep in fear that the ‘tickle monster’ was going to come in the middle of the night and get her. After a few nights of this sleepless torture, both of us exhausted, I realized that just telling her not to think about it was not going to work. I decided to teach her to ‘catch’ the bad thought and physically do something with it. Before she would go to sleep each night I would ask her if she had any fear that she wanted to give to mommy. She would think and bring forward anything that was on her mind (usually the horrid tickle monster) and literally put it in my hand. Then she would watch me close my hand and walk to the door to throw it outside. Then I would come back in and tell her that whenever something else comes up that she does not have to keep it, but rather can decide to let it go and think about something happy. We would then visualize a list of things that made her happy and I would suggest some dreams that she could have from the list that she made.
Here is where I would love to say that this technique worked like a charm. But I know full grown people who are still struggling with redirecting their thoughts and letting go of the old ones. I can say, however, that over time this technique did just not dispel her stint with nightmares, but she is now able to apply this to a wide range of emotions and feelings (and thoughts) that would otherwise hold her mind captive.
To you I suggest the same. If you are anything like me, I’m sure your brain is well deserving of a break too. So catch the bad thought, the worry thought, and throw it away. Then mentally list what else you could think about that would produce a much better action (as opposed to nail baiting or another sleepless night), then dwell on that. I promise you that this will do your mind, body and spirit a world of good…especially when you realize this is your power and you had it all along 🙂
And So I Prayed is Lydia’s first book available on Amazon.
Originally published at medium.com