Some of my clients tell me their minds keep racing. I know what they mean because I once had a busy mind myself. It was no fun—it tired me out. I was relieved after taking steps to pacify my ceaseless thoughts. Clients also report feelings of relief once they have learned to calm their minds.
What is a busy mind?
The busy mind fills itself with constant activity, with obsessive, random and intrusive thoughts. There are endless variations on this theme. Some people are focussed on our perceived inadequacies: “Why did I do that?” “What’s wrong with me?” “How will I get through this?” “What will people think?” We call this negative self-talk. Others are fixated on the inadequacies of others: “People are so rude.” “Men are bullies.” “No one cares.” “There’s a lot of nasty people in the world?” We call this blaming behaviour.
Listening can be difficult for people with busy minds. They are often too self-absorbed to really hear and understand others. Some say little, consumed with their own thoughts and fears, while others are constantly talking, using the white noise to keep the world at bay.
What causes a busy mind?
After considering the experience of my clients, I concluded that our busy minds are a form of protection. When our mind is fully occupied, we don’t have to deal with issues that are disturbing or painful.
What is a busy mind avoiding?
We avoid whatever we’d rather not confront. Many of us carry insecurities that hark back to criticisms or trauma we suffered in the past. Our relentless mental chatter helps us avoid our self-doubts. Deep down, we are afraid we are not good enough.
Dealing with our fears.
There are two major strategies we use to cope with our fear of being inadequate. One is to wrestle with our self-doubts, while the other is to completely deny them. Which of these strategies we choose seems to be based on a psychological construct called “Locus of Control.” Do you believe you control your life, or is it controlled by external forces?
People with an internal locus of control tend to blame themselves for their problems. Those with an external locus of control blame outside factors or other people. They believe they’re the victims of circumstance or malice.
People with an internal locus of control indulge in negative self-talk. Those with an external locus believe the world is conspiring against them.
In fact, neither extreme is balanced. Some of our problems are self-inflicted, while others are beyond our control.
People with busy minds have trouble distinguishing the difference. Their habitual use of their chosen coping strategy means they miss the nuances of human behaviour. They’re stuck in the same responsive patterns of negative self-talk or blaming behaviour.
How do we calm our busy minds?
We need to go to the source of our busy mind—the fears we are trying to avoid. There are steps we can take:
- Become aware of your busy mind and have a genuine desire to change it.
- Instead of pushing away a particular fear, allow it to surface. I recommend asking for help from a greater power (e.g. spirit guides, higher-self, God, Source).
- When you allow your fear to be present in your body, you breathe deeply and slowly to make space for it. Usually, you will become aware of an image, idea, or memory of some scene or situation. Even when it is something you fear in the future, it will be related to something that has happened in the past. For example, if you fear losing a loved one, you may have experienced a similar loss in a past life and never came to terms with it.
- Allow yourself to feel all the emotions associated with the feared situation. Breathing deeply and slowly will help to calm you.
- Once you have calmed yourself, ask to be given a larger perspective on this situation. Thoughts and ideas will usually arise now into your mind. Take notice of this. Remember, we are here on the planet to have experiences. Now you know what this feels like, do you really need to experience it again?
- Focus on those who played a role in the situation. For example, if you were betrayed, ask to see their side of it. Once you truly understand where they were coming from, forgiveness is automatic. The emotional charge you had will dissipate.
- Acknowledge the role your earlier self played. Thank him or her for teaching you what you learnt from this experience. Imagine embracing them if this feels appropriate.
- Now you understand what happened, imagine being in a similar situation. What do you now do differently?
- Use the same process whenever you find yourself judging yourself or others. Look for the fear beneath it.
To briefly illustrate how this works, here is an example from my own life:
Many years ago, I found myself judging people who were overweight. When I would see a large person walking down the street, I noticed I felt angry and annoyed with them. Negative thoughts took over my mind. That seemed strange. What business of mine was it? Logically none. But when I went into my feelings more deeply, I felt a sense of fear. I asked myself, “where does this fear come from?” I saw, in my mind’s eye, an image of an obese woman. She was distraught, full of self-hate, feeling burdened and unable to change what she wished she could. I believe now it was a past life of mine. I cried, feeling her grief and sadness. I wanted to comfort her, accept her, love her. I felt her respond. Her grief lifted. I thanked her for teaching me what it is like to feel so lost, heavy, and helpless. We were both at peace. I understood now. My attitude to overweight people changed. I just felt love for them.
People with busy minds are out of balance. They are hiding from the truth. What is that truth? That we are all worthwhile and we all make mistakes. That’s how we learn. Undertaking a process that enables us to embrace this truth can be a great relief.
My new book Lost Soul, Wise Soul: How Challenging Past Lives Shape Our Future helps us understand how, over many lifetimes, we face challenges that create our busy minds. The many cases in the book demonstrate our struggle to come home to the truth, that we are all completely worthy of peace and love.