Oh man. I use this all the time. Tbh I should probably be using it right now. But I’m not. I’m writing this. And that is okay.
So. I don’t know about you, but with everything I’ve got going on, I frequently wind up with my brain/mind/soul/insert-your-personal-concept-of-self-here spinning around like those evil rides from the county fair that make you suddenly aware of how strong gravity is. (Gravity is real strong, kids. It’ll heck you up.)
When that gets to the point of being not just unpleasant but actually kind of debilitating, this is what I do.
I get myself a notebook or just some random paper. (For-realsies paper, though. I’m normally all about that Word doc but for whatever reason this has always worked better for me when it’s actual writing on actual paper. To each their own though, of course.)
I sit myself down somewhere quiet with my paper product and a writing utensil.
And I start making a list.
Now this is not a to-do list or anything so left-brain as that. This is just a bunch of damn bullet points. The subject of the bullet points is whatever the heck is flying loops around the inside of your skull like my cockatiel when she gets it in her little yellow head that she’s an eagle. Some of my bullet points from ages past have included:
- “Why the heck am I so scared of bugs that I can’t even go outside?”
- “When am I going to have time to play my cello?”
- “I’m mad at _____ about this thing and it’s eating me up.”
- “That painting on the wall at work is crooked.”
- “Why does cookie dough taste so good? Is it actually going to kill me to eat it?”
You get the idea. Literally anything goes.
The idea here is to drain out ALL the stuff that’s ransacking your head onto a piece of paper or two (or a hundred or whatever). Don’t judge yourself for what comes out. You’re not here to be your own thought police. You’re just getting the stuff into a more manageable form.
Once I’ve got my list, what I do is get to another page or another piece of paper or whatever, and I just go through and address each bullet point one by one, as if I’m talking to myself or some nebulous third party who has just expressed this thought.
So for instance, what I might have written for “When am I going to have time to play my cello?” is:
“Finals are gonna be over soon, and then you’ll have more time for everything. In the meantime, when you get a free second, maybe you could go through your sheet music and plan what you wanna work on? Don’t have to, though. Just something that could be fun. The point is the time will come, and the shiny beauty instrument will be waiting for you. Oh hey – maybe get in the habit of doing wrist and finger exercises as well? That’d be good and helpful and stuff.”
The goal is to a) address the bullet point in some way that is genuinely comforting, and b) provide some sort of actionable step, even if it’s just an itty-bitty tiny one.
So you go through each bullet point, you spew out this little message to yourself, and then you take a nice deep breath and you read through all of them.
Instant freaking therapy session. Seriously, even if you’ve JUST written these things, it really makes a difference to actually go through and read them to yourself and know that they are MEANT FOR YOU. YOU are the one those comforting and useful thoughts are addressed to. You get to have ’em.
And heck, if you wanna take it a step further, go through what you wrote and make a proper to-do list of all the itty-bitty actionable steps. Go nuts. (My Gemini brain gets all rebellious when I try to do that, but hey, I’m sure some of you are Virgos. :P)
I hope that this helps. I hate feeling like my own mind is working against me.
Be well, friend.
How do you get your brain to settle? Share some techniques, yo.
PS: My Google spellcheck dictionary thing does not believe that “cockatiel” is a real word. It instead suggested “cockatrice.” Google. My friend. One of those things is real. It ain’t the damn cockatrice. (Probably.)