You will either run your mind or your mind will run you. If you have to choose between those two, which one do you want?
To run your own mind, you have to know a little bit about how it operates. Metacognition is a made-up word, in psychology all it means is thinking about thinking. I want you to notice that you can do this. Because as you think about your own thinking, we create a little space, and in that space is where choice exists.
This will be really important in our strategy to stop overthinking everything and experience some peace. Metacognition, thinking about thinking, turn that on for a moment and I'm going to walk you through a little exercise. I got this idea from a book that I've been reading called, “The Power Of Now,” by Eckhart Tolle. It's an amazing, profound book that helps us to do what I'm suggesting here –to think about your own thinking. So, here's the exercise.
Clear your mind for a moment. That can be easier said than done. Clear the stage and I'm going to invite you to think about something. When I make that invitation, don't try to think about anything. Simply watch and observe what happens in your own thoughts. Okay, here's the exercise. I wonder what thought I'll have next. Now, just observe. Is that a little crazy? What happened when I presented that to you? Let's try it again.
Okay, clear the mind again. The same prompt. I wonder what thought I'll have next. Now just watch. As you watch your own thinking, you're going to notice a couple of things. I've done this with a lot of clients and there are a couple of very common responses. Sometimes when we do this exercise, your thought will be, “Well, I got to think of something.” And you'll try to think of something. Don't try to think of anything. Simply watch.
Kind of like a cat who's watching for a mouse to pop out. Just crouching and watching, observing your own thoughts. It's like that. Don't force it. Just watch what happens. Observe. One more time, let's try it. I wonder what thought I'll have next. Isn't that amazing? Most people find when they do this, that their mind is usually really noisy. When we are overthinking things, there's a lot of noise in there. When you stop to observe your own thinking like we did in this experiment, you'll notice that there's a brief moment at least when it's quiet in there.
It's quiet. Nothing's going on.
You are waiting to see what's going to come out. In that moment, it's quiet. How does that feel? It's something like peace, isn't it? Okay, that's important. So, hang on to that thought for just a moment and let's talk about the power of now.
In Eckhart Tolle's book, he points out that now is all we've got. And I think I agree with him because everything happens now. Well, what about those things that happened before earlier in the past? Yes, when did they happen? When they were happening, it was now, wasn't it?
What about all that stuff that's going to happen in the future? Which incidentally you don't know what's going to happen in the future, but you've got a really great imagination. And when you imagine the future, when is it? It's now that you are imagining it.
The past doesn't exist, neither does the future. The only place either of those exist is in our current thinking about it.
Keep that in mind for just a moment. As we look at what happens when our mind gets too attached or focused on the past. This is where we experience depression, shame, and guilt. And where are they focused? In the past. When we feel anxiety, fear, worry, nervousness, where's our focus? It's on the future. Because our mind is imagining all the things that might or could or probably will happen, we can experience fear, anxiety, and nervousness.
Here's the next exercise. Right now in this moment, is there anything lacking? No. Do you have enough air? Well, yeah.
Do you have enough money? That's a tricky one for a lot of people. Because you might think I don't have enough money. Well do you have enough for right now? Actually, yeah. I got enough for right now. I'm just worried about the bills I have to pay in the future. And that causes the nervousness, right? The anxiety. But right now, you've got enough.
What about love? Acceptance? Food? Resources? One of my clients was sitting on my couch as I took him through this exercise and he said, “Well, I'm a little hungry.” Said, “Oh, you're a little hungry. So… But are you okay, right now?” He said, “Oh, yeah. I'm fine now. I'm just worried that if I don't eat, I'll be…” See that? Turns our focus to the future.
Notice that everything right now is okay. And I think that's always true. One of my clients asked me, “What about if you are dying?” Okay, have you ever interviewed someone who died? Because I have, in fact, if you go to my podcast, Live On Purpose Radio and look up my interview with Norm Angel, appropriately named apparently, because Norm died twice. He had 2 experiences where he flatlined, no pulse, not breathing, he's dead. And it was temporary, he came back. He calls it a temporary death experience. He remembers everything. And what Norm shared with me? Even in that moment, you're good. In fact, he felt an experience that surprised him. That there was peace and warmth. And a feeling of love and acceptance. Interesting. You know, we haven't interviewed a lot of people who died. But I've interviewed at least him and even in that moment, you're good. Now, things are good.
What that suggests to us is if we can stay in the now. We're going to experience peace, we're good. Stay in the now.
When your mind wanders off to the past, you're at risk for depression.
When your mind wanders off to the future, you're at risk for anxiety.
Right now, we're good. Did you feel it? Do you want someone else to feel that? Share this article with at least two people that you thought of as you were experiencing this today. Help them to feel that things are good right now. Join me at Live On Purpose TV on YouTube for more positive thoughts.
Click here to listen to Norm talk about his TWO death experiences.