Do you ever have so many thoughts floating around in your head that you can’t sleep at night? Or concentrate on work? You are not alone.
We live in a culture that fosters an overactive mind. It creates worry, frustration, dissatisfaction, sleeplessness, and a feeling that no matter what your life is like, something needs to be different.
Humans have somewhere between 30,000-75,000 thoughts a day. That’s a whole lot of thoughts running around in our brains. Even more unsettling is that scientists estimate that up to 70-80% of these thoughts are negative—not at all good news for your chances of achieving your desires.
Experts call those awful thoughts that keep repeating in your mind ANTS—Automatic Negative Thoughts. I like to call them RANTS, adding an “R” for “repetitive,” because it’s typically the terrible, self-defeating thoughts that you repeat over and over again in your mind—sounding like the rant of a mad man or woman who is shouting passionately in the street ad nauseam. RANTs are those little lies you repeatedly tell yourself that can negatively impact your everyday life. Eliminating these lies from your self-talk is crucial to creating the life you desire.
The Buddhists have a term for the continuous flow of distracting babble in your head: monkey mind. You know the voice—the one in your head jumping around, chattering endlessly, shrieking, and otherwise clamoring for your attention. The monkey is notorious for telling you everything that can go wrong. The monkey is very fearful—afraid of everything, wary of everyone. The monkey tells you all sorts of negative and unproductive things, making you go over and over the same scenarios in your mind with no solutions.
Here are five tips to tame these chaotic thoughts:
Become aware of your thoughts. Again, become conscious of the words you use in your mind and when you speak. If the monkey starts saying things to you, recognize that this voice isn’t you. It’s merely a thought. Pay attention to where your mind automatically goes, and don’t blindly follow it.
Recognize the thought, and let it pass through your mind. Don’t listen to its negativity. It’s just a thought – not reality.
Choose another thought. When you recognize that your RANTs or that your Little Drunk Monkey is on a rampage, choose a productive, positive thought that sets you in the direction of the life you desire
Engage in what you’re doing. To start to tame your RANTs and the Little Drunk Monkey, you need to learn to be more present in the moment. By paying attention to your surroundings or to what you’re doing instead of your thoughts, you’ll naturally quiet the chattering. When your mind is engaged, the Little Drunk Monkey has a more difficult time grabbing your attention. When you’re reading, writing, concentrating on a puzzle, playing a sport, or otherwise keeping your mind occupied, it’s difficult for this little guy to begin his prattle.
Meditate. Meditation can help you achieve a peaceful and calm mind that is free of worries and anxiety, so you can experience happiness and a less chaotic mind. Plus, meditation helps you to be more present in each moment of your life.