Updated: Mar 26, 2019
A bar on a Friday night? Especially if there's a big game showing.
The Underground? Not people speaking- we Londoners just don't do that! But of the trains screeching down the tracks and the announcements? A night at the O2 seeing a gig? ( But that's so great to do isn't it?).
What if the noisiest place you hear each and every day is the inside of your mind?
There's too much whirling about in there that actually it can be tough to make sense of it all.
Hands up anyone? Please? Come on can you agree with me?
I can't be the only one who struggles with this.
I know I'm not.
You see too often we allow our minds to fill up with all the stuff that demands of us- not all bad, but we allow it all to come flooding in; The emails, texts, 'don't forget this', 'Pay this', 'Get booked on that retreat', 'arrange the Dr's appointment', 'we've run out of toilet paper', 'need more milk', 'the garden could do with being tidied up', 'you didn't get back to Mary about that coffee', 'the library books are overdue', 'I need to change the bed sheets', 'ring this person', 'cancel the direct debit', 'I'm paying to much for my gas and electric', 'I haven't been to the gym for ages', that film you wanted to see is out...
When my head gets like that and I also find I start to speak ten to a dozen too, I have to tell myself 'SHHHHHHHHHHHH!'
Which actually irritates my head off to be honest, at least initially because it says things like well If I don't remember all of these things, I'll be in a right mess. And yes my head is right - I would be.
But I can't make any sense of the constant demands of my time. It becomes a noise that overwhelms and means that I actually avoid it all because of it.
Does anyone else remember being at school with a teacher who could control the class by just putting her lips on her mouth? Yeah I do. Other teachers would fuss about to get our attention. I had one teacher who would turn the lights on and off, and another who would raise his voice to be heard over everyone else. But if I'm honest, this teacher took control by being quiet. I can't remember her name, she was petite, in a class full of teenagers who would stand feet above her. She stood at the front and paused. She would be silent whilst a war zone was stirring. She stood not showing she was bothered by the noise ( Yep we all know now she probably was!), and she stood quiet, waiting to be noticed. It never really took too long. The volume would reduce and even if it was out of a place of 'what the heck is she doing?'- order soon returned to the class.
That's the sort of thing I need to do with my stressed out head, full of anxiety, full of deadlines, full of parental roles. 'Shhhh. Be Still Bev'.
I've got to be frank, and this isn't me getting political, this just isn't the place and I have better things to talk about, but The Houses of Parliament could do with a dose of this right now with Brexit causing such turmoil. 'Shhhhh'.
Wouldn't it be great if the Speaker of the House tried doing the finger on lips instead of bellowing out 'Order, Order' ? He he, that's made me chuckle- I hope he reads this and gives it a go. They are all acting like nursery school kids so why not treat them like it?
Seriously though what we all need is a stop sign that we raise up in our heads when it gets too much (metaphorically speaking of course).
That we do not allow our heads to run riot and exhaust us but rather we 'STOP' and take back control.
and here comes the practical bit....
get all that stuff in your head out of there, on paper, on a note app on your phone, just get it all out.
Yep. I do mean all of it. List the moans and groans. List the things that piss you off as well as the 'to do list' . Get it out of there.
Tony Robbins speaks of having a capture list that you can later review and I personally find Evernote a fantastic app for this, and you can run it free too. To capture a thought, idea, plan or even a persons name with an action you want to do. You just create a capture list- a lot of it maybe rubbish that you later decide wasn't important- but you've given it some attention, some space and you've seen what is was all about, and the main thing is its out of your head.
I know we are a constant thought making machine- we've been made that way- to do amazing things, care deeply and basically to change the world to a better place.
I know that some of these thoughts will naturally come back to your mind and the worry monster may rise it's ugly head. Some are pressing and urgent or necessary and so of course they will need your urgent attention. So act on those you can.
You have to take control.
You have to trust your judgement to decide what is urgent and what is not- just like the triage nurse at A & E.
For those things that you can not act on straight away, try talking to these thoughts ( this doesn't mean you have multi-personality disorder!)
Tell these thoughts,
'OK. I Hear you. I've put you in my app and when I can, I will return to you'
'I know you are getting my attention, I can not act on it now, But I will. I will return to you'
But, and this is the important bit, you have to follow through with what you've promised, otherwise you won't trust yourself to do it, and this just won't work.
So you do have to return to your list and review what's needed and what isn't, what is sorted now and what needs my attention today. Every day.
This works for me, when I do it properly, when I honour myself enough to acknowledge that my mind is an amazing tool to me and helps me remember stuff, and it can help me work through whats important and what isn't, I do actually get my head space back. I have room to properly think, to be calm, to be still. I believe we all need to find a place of haven or retreat within us. Mindfulness helps, as does Meditation, but whatever floats your boat for a get away. Remember you have to have your house in order first. Your mind won't cooperate with any of that calm stuff, if everything all feels too much.
I hope this helps you to see that your mind is to be a slave to you, a very helpful tool, not a master to who you are. Claim it back and show it who is boss, with kind compassionate words. It will thank you for it. Honest.
I'm happy to explore this with you in the counselling room, if it all feels like it's too much to do yourself. I see clients all the time, that just need a safe space to work things out. We all need help from time to time, and that doesn't mean we have failed. Give me a call if you think a few sessions to sort through your head space would help. I'd be happy to hold that safe space for you.
I work In Bexleyheath, Kent, and I offer skype for those who can not get to me.