I would like to start this entry with a simple exercise. I think it would be best to start this way because the mind is a remarkable place. So much goes on at once. We think and we feel. We predict and we act. We have storage units and keep detailed records of information and experience.
There are so many things happening at once and yet, we hardly realize what’s happening at all. Reports show that the average adult makes approximately 35,000 decisions in a day. Think about this? There are reports that show the average adult makes 2,000 decisions per hour or one decision every two-seconds. Of course, this assumes at least a seven-hour sleep period, which is tough for those who struggle with insomnia. Let’s face it, thinking is not a friend when you can’t sleep.
Either way, everyone has something going on with their thoughts. We have repetitive ideas and old memories or recollections. Some of these are at the forefront of the mind and yet, some are at a subconscious level. These are things that can lead us into rethinking old conversations. We can spend time on re-litigating old arguments and rethinking our positions so that we can respond preemptively in case this happens again. Either way, the mind is always moving. The mind is always looking to jockey for position. We are always looking for peace and ease; and yet, it is very hard to find peace and ease when the mind is always moving. It’s hard to focus. But more than anything, it’s hard for us to get any work done.
It is said that people can think themselves into feeling sick. It is also said that we can think ourselves out of opportunities. We can think ourselves into panic modes and often, we can think ourselves into catastrophes by doing something called catastrophizing. This creates errors in our thinking and literally causes us to think distortedly. We assume the worst and disregard any sort of positive influence. However, this is not a rare thought process. In fact, this is more common than we realize.
Think about the energy of overthinking.
Now, think about the personal drain that comes with anxiety. Zero this in with life that happens, right here and right now; yet, here we are and life is about to happen once more. Think about the fears that lead to avoidance or keep us from taking the next step because we’ve talked ourselves out of an opportunity.
Now, here’s the exercise:
Imagine the mind as a huge storage facility. Think about all the rooms in this building. Imagine this building at nighttime in whichever way you will and allow this to be a picture in your mind.
See this as if you were standing outside of this building and looking at it.
You can see this building and the windows. You can make it tall or short and wide. Either way, this picture belongs to you.
Think of each storage room and equate this to thoughts in your mind. Think about each room and how each room has a light on as if it is in use. Each room is the storage of thoughts. This is the storage of memories from our youth. Put away the stories of discomfort in one of the rooms down the hall. And, let’s not forget our childhood fears because this has a room too.
Be sure to keep a room for our experiences and moments of humiliation. Oh, and I’m sure there are rooms for resentment. There will be plenty of space for past humiliations and rooms filled with tapes that recorded our social distortions that led us to jump to conclusions. There is a room for failures. There’s one for regrets, one for guilt and one for shame. All of these rooms have their lights on.
Now, think about the lessons we first learned about electricity. Think about the times we were taught to turn off the lights when leaving a room; otherwise, we were doing what?
Wasting electricity, right?
If we took an honest assessment and viewed this building from a distance and saw the windows as a representative of our irrational or unnecessary thoughts; how many lights would be on?
In the case of overthinking and catastrophizing, how much energy would this consume? Yet, if we think about this visualization and relate it to that picture of our storage building—most of those rooms do not need to be in use yet, the lights are still on.
Can you see?
Imagine if the mind was relaxed. Imagine the energy we would have if we didn’t burn so much useless electricity. How would this affect our abilities?
Would this make us more or less effective?
Imagine the ability to maneuver throughout the day without unnecessary thinking. Imagine a day without irrational fears or thinking errors that lead us to inaccurate assumptions of people, places and things.
Better yet, think about conversations that would happen without the distraction of preconceived notions or the energy or poor expectations.
For the moment, think about the dreaded times you expected a conversation to end poorly. Think about the assumptions. Think about the predictions. Think about the planning and the strategies of “If they say this then I’ll say that,” or how we role play the worst possible scenarios in our head. We rehearse what we’ll say.
Meanwhile, what we fail to realize is the energy we burn. We set up the scenario in our minds, which automatically assumes this will be the case because the mind doesn’t know the difference between thought and experience. Instead, the mind picks up on our emotions; in which case, we become chemically altered and pre-wired for something to become problematic. Put in the simplest way possible; we cause a problem long before the problem exists.
Now, imagine if this were as simple as a light switch. Or better yet, consider a plug in an outlet. Imagine these thoughts and how much energy they use. This is a waste of our electricity. Could you imagine how much energy we would save if we simply pulled the plug and none of this existed?
How much time do we waste by considering people, places or things?
How much time do we consider other people when they do not consider us at all?
How much effort do we invest in people, places or things, only to realize the investment was poor. Rather than move on or accept what is; why is it we often reinvest or invest even more with hopes to turn this around so that we don’t suffer from the ideas of rejection or failure?
What does this do to our energy?
There is an experience of mine that I recall very well. I was about to go into a sales meeting with my boss. I had problems with my sales. There were problems with my deliverables. There were problems with production. There were problems with my customers and struggles with some of my coworkers who were conflicting with some of my interests. My sales were a mess and so was my desk (and my head too). I knew this was going to be a tough meeting. I was dreading the thoughts of supervision and the shame that was about to come my way.
I cannot say that the start of the meeting went well nor can I say that my boss didn’t raise his voice when he learned about the problems. However, what happened towards the end of the meeting was more than just memorable to me.
I was asked about the popular salespeople in the industry. I was asked about their success and then I was asked, “What makes them different from you?”
What were they doing?
Were they worrying about me the way I was worrying about them?
Were they focusing on what I was doing?
Or were they channeling their energy towards their sales?
When these salespeople are on the phone; are they thinking clearly?
Are they stuck in the ideas that say, “What’s the use?” and flunk the sale before the customer answers the phone?
We put the orders and my books away. My boss and I talked about a person’s mindset. We talked about the winner’s mindset. We talked about thinking from the winner’s circle and the feelings of victory.
We talked about marking achievements and of course, we talked about the secrets of endurance.
However, in fairness to the conversation; I cannot say this is how it was worded. The words and description is mine but for the record; I want to be honest to the fidelity of this lesson. Rather than discuss the argument of semantics, this is what I learned from a person who was very helpful to me in my young life. Therefore, I am writing this as a lesson I learned from a man who helped train me.
I had no real future in mind. I was worried about the stability of my income. I was always overthinking and always waiting for the next thing to go wrong. I was burned out but yet, how could I explain this to my boss because above all; the last thing I wanted was to seem incapable.
We started to talk about a famous movie that took place in World War II. The opening scene began with American troops as they stormed the beaches of Normandy. Meanwhile, the German troops were firing from a heightened and more favorable position and yet, the boats of soldiers were heading towards the beach. This was it. There were no other options. The scene was as intense as any war movie could be. When the boats arrived close to the shore, the planks came down and troops were to swim and run towards the beach. All the while, enemy soldiers were firing at them.
My boss was talking to me about this. He was telling me how the soldiers only had three choices. Either they were shot, drowned in the waters at the shore or they chose to take the hill and claim the beach.
He asked me, “Who would you want to be in that scenario?”
I told him, “I’d want to take the beach.”
“Then act like it.”
“Set your goals.”
“Create a focus.”
“And take the beach.”
So, what did I learn from this?
Unplug from the problematic thinking.
Shut off the lights that don’t need to burn.
Write a positive script for my thoughts.
Set the stage.
Create the goals.
Move forward and above all else . . .
TAKE THE BEACH!