As far back as I can recall, I’ve possessed a busy mind. I believe this is a fairly common affliction (it’s impossible to know exactly how each individual’s mind works, so this is an assumption). Over-analyzing situations, racing thoughts about things on my to-do list, thinking a lot about what happened in the past and what will happen in the future. Does this sound familiar to you? The thoughts are seemingly ceaseless.
I used to pride myself on being a “thinker”, but it’s dawned on me that thinking can be quite detrimental. At least most of the type of thinking I’ve been doing. The mind is a tool that’s supposed to be used by us to create. Using our thoughts for manifestation. You think something and you manifest it; that’s it. We are more than just our minds. However, the way I’ve been using my mind for a good chunk of my life is to torture myself. Judging, criticizing, generally thinking harsh thoughts about myself. Not using this tool to create something beautiful that’s for sure.
The challenge for me is that I’m like a dog with a bone. Once a thought enters my mind, I won’t let go of it. It plays on a loop, repeating over and over again. I believed in these thoughts and gave them power over me. This formed a lot of road blocks in my life and impeded my growth in many ways. It’s also caused conflict in my relationships because I just wouldn’t relent. I could understand the other person’s viewpoint, for example; nevertheless, I wouldn’t let go of the way I thought about a particular situation. It’s fine if you’re right or even if you’re wrong, but it’s really not necessary to keep thinking about it. It’s not healthy and now looking back, I see that it never made me happy.
There was a visceral sense of the importance of decluttering my mind and learning to let go. I never thought I could do it. Being a strong-willed person though, I was determined to learn how. I didn’t want to live the rest of my life being controlled by thoughts. One of the first ways I began to practice letting go was believing that things happen for a reason. You may not believe this is true and it may not be, I don’t know, but it’s been an effective way for me to drop thoughts. If, for example, I get a parking ticket and say to myself, this was supposed to happen, it frees me from analyzing why it happened, what I could’ve done differently, what “should’ve” happened, etc. I suppose it’s acceptance of things as they are.
In terms of to-do lists, it meant learning that everything will get done in its own time and if something doesn’t get done, it wasn’t meant to. Many times before, I’d be too quick to get something done on my to-do list just so I wouldn’t have to think about it anymore (but I’d think about it a lot beforehand). Once I began practicing slowing down and letting go of the control reins, I found elegant solutions and better outcomes than I imagined. Other people would step in and help out, an idea of how to resolve multiple things at once would pop into my head, with time an item on the list would resolve itself, and so forth. This probably comes to us as we learn more about ourselves over the years. We figure out what’s important and how to prioritize based on what matters. One good consequence of this is that I no longer allow thoughts to keep me awake at night.
Another recent “aha” moment came to me when I heard the Buddhist quote, “don’t believe everything you think.” To me, this teaching is brilliant and provides me with a means to free myself from my thoughts. Just because I think something doesn’t mean it’s true. It takes away the power of these thoughts over me. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m continually training myself to take care of things as they come in that moment and not allowing junky thoughts to accumulate in my space. As a result, I have more energy to give to the things I love and enjoy – that’s what it’s all about.