It was off to the races, and my thoughts and feelings were racing around in my head.
Out in front was ‘This and that’ followed firmly behind by ‘Panic’ and ‘Fear.’ Neck and neck were ‘Hopelessness’ and ‘Despair’ while ‘Stuck in the Mud’ was stuck in the mud and sinking.
Do your thoughts race?
It’s like you are on a tight wire, and everything is going along ok and then with a puff of wind, down you go. Free falling.
Five Ideas to help with racing thoughts.
1. Learn to breathe.
Something I have noticed is that I need to center my focus on my breathe. To take a few gentle breaths.
Learning to breathe is part of mindfulness and reins in the mind to slow down, be still and be in the now. I listen to my breath, feel the airbrush over my lips, and my chest rising slowly and then reclining.
2. Speak some truth quietly to the self.
My most calming words are the words most often found in the Bible, where fear is encountered.
‘I am with you.’
I also add some insights and quotes that I have gathered along the way. I have put them on my smartphone (using Google Keep), so I can easily access them for those difficult times.
Here are some of them.
- Focus on the moment, not the monsters that may or may not be up ahead. Ryan Holiday
- What I focus on gets me. Focus on the negatives/challenges will always take me down. Focus on the positives/ good things will always give me hope.
- The thoughts I indulge grow stronger. The thoughts I acknowledge and put in their place lose their power to discourage me.
- That was then; this is now. I choose to live in the now.
With a journal, I can get what is running around in my brain, out and down on paper. It’s like you take that thought, a non-physical thing, and turn it into the physical reality of ink on paper. It becomes tangible.
Then you can do various things with that piece of prose.
- Share it with your counselor or a safe person for their opinion and wisdom
- Use it as a historical record to see progress and change
- Use it as part of your prayer life
5. Look for patterns
Take some time and consider the places, times, and events that set off your racing thoughts. You might also like to consider how much caffeine, alcohol, etc. you have taken?
I know that certain places have a triggering capacity for me. They set the thought horses racing. I know anniversaries can be triggering times. Maybe it’s seeing someone from the past and echoes shout out loud and strong.
A little story to finish with.
I once did a sermon series where I asked people to join with me and write a sermon from a beatitude they had chosen. I worked alongside them, giving encouragement and support.
One of the speakers was a lady who struggled with hearing voices – psychosis. She decided to speak on ‘Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth Matthew 5:5
As we dug into the passage, we discovered that the word Meek was more about a wild animal being brought under control than being about quiet and small. We talked about watching dressage on T.V. and how the horses had been brought under the control of the rider.
Then she related that as someone who had struggled with hearing voices how she had learned how to bring those wild horses of thoughts into submission. Medication had helped her to do this, but it was still her responsibility to front up to that horse every day and bring it under control.
Quotes to consider
- It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes, too. Elizabeth Gilbert,
- Are you telling yourself the truth? Not if you’re feeling powerless or fearful. Your thoughts must encourage you, not intimidate you. David Riddell
- When you next over-react in anxiety, rejection, or anger, try to distinguish between present reality and the echoes of past experiences. David Riddell
Question to Answer and leave a comment below or
- What sets your thoughts racing?
- What helps you to tame the thoughts and bring them back under control?
Image: Gene Devine
Barry is a writer, coach, and course creator that has a passion for Mental Health and Spiritual Formation.
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