What channel is your mind on?

I was retrenched from my work in 2016.  It was traumatic, and worry took over my mind.  Not only had I had to work through the feelings of being rejected and not being good enough, but I also found myself going to a state of anxiety and worry about the future.  I was worried about the financial impact on our family and I was anxious about whether I might find another work again in an economy that was flat.

My mind was tuned in to the negative channels.

It’s almost like binging on Netflix.  My mind was unconsciously gravitating to the same old channels: the worry channel, the anxiety channel, the “101 ways that I am not good enough” channel.   Once you are watching these channels, over and over and over, you become stuck.  It almost becomes a bottomless pit of self-doubt, worry and anxiety  – the more you watch it, the more it reinforces those feelings.

You don’t have to get stuck there.

The mind is a great slave.  It is great at taking instructions and executing what it is told.  The mind is not a great master.

You are in control of the remote.  You can hit the button to change the channel.

When you feel that you are going into 205 episodes of wallow, self-pity, and doubt, tell your mind “That’s enough!”.  Stop thinking about all the ways that everything is wrong.  Change the channel and watch a different program.

Sometimes you need to coax your mind into a different direction.  Here are three of my favorite strategies to get the mind to focus on what I want to focus on:

  1. Gratitude journal.  At the start of the day or at the end of every day, write down three things that you appreciated, that you saw was beautiful, or that you are grateful for.
  2. Consciously distract yourself.  When you find yourself overthinking, get up and do something.  Go for a walk, find a new recipe to cook, or learn something new like playing the guitar.
  3. Step out of yourself.  If you had to give yourself advice for the situation your facing, what would you say to yourself?  If the future-you (the you-a-year-from-now) was to give the you-in-the-now some feedback, what would that be?

If you find yourself watching a negative channel, remember that you have control over the remote and that you can change the channel.

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