That would be the one word I’d use to define my state of mind.
Constantly thinking about how to control the future and re-adjusting my direction based on the mistakes I made in the past.
I’ve had a difficult time lately finding a balance between pushing myself enough and self-acceptance. Finding a sense of “inner-peace”
as lame and cliché as that sounds.
I always seem to be (neurotically) striving towards an “end-goal”.
Trying to control something I have – in essence – no direct control over.
The pressure to overachieve leads to frustration, anxiety and a great deal of unwanted stress. This accompanied by the knowledge that you could – always – be doing better leads to dissatisfaction in your life.
How do we manage?
Acceptance Vs. Growth
You see, here’s the problem;
The more self-acceptance – The less desire you have to grow. You’re contented with your current state and become (imo) way too passive. When you take a look at Eckhart Tolle who’s never hurried, talks incredibly slow and seems almost lifeless – you’ll notice this is not the answer.
On the other hand;
The more you focus on growth and try to control the outcome – The more anxious and restless you get. You feel only as worthwhile as your latest achievement and can only feel at ease when you reach your (impossibly) high performance standards.
Which is never.
Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure. – Thomas Edison
It’s like dancing on a tightrope really.
How do we find a balance between too much woo-woo spirituality and actually getting shit done?
Here’s my take;
I believe it is a great idea to learn from the past by reflecting on it regularly (in a positive manner).
Additionally, I also believe it’s a great idea to set visual goals for the future based on where you want to go.
But from that point onward?
You should simply live in the now by focusing on the process/actions that’s required to get there. Become present to the moment and quiet your thoughts so you can get into a rhythmic work-flow.
Going forwards – but at ease.
- Don’t try to change the past/dwell on it. You can only learn from it.
- Don’t try to obsessively control the future (guilty) – you can’t. You can only control you own actions.
Here’s a nifty illustration I made on where your thoughts should be focused; slightly inclined towards the future.
Always looking for the next step to take – but no further than that.
(I agree – my info-graphic skills are truly amazing).
You can compare it to a flashlight that cuts through a thick layer of mist. You can only see what’s right in front of you and no further than that.
When you become detached from your past and present, your mind isn’t constantly spouting out bullshit about what people might be thinking, what consequences your actions might have or otherwise being reactive towards your environment.
You feel completely at ease with yourself and your life – peaceful, calm, serene.
You’ve probably already experienced such a state of mind already;
You are uninhibited, free-flowing, creative, you make better decisions and all that other good stuff. I believe disconnecting your thoughts from the past and the future is the “ideal state of mind” for your everyday life.
By “sinking into your body” instead of being locked in your head you become the observer of your own life and detached from your thoughts. I call this state; “being grounded”
It seeps into nearly everything you do; Your voice, your body language, your eye contact, your decisions and so-forth. The full spectrum of your personality can come to the surface.
To illustrate what I mean, here’s some people who talk/live from a mentally grounded place;
See what I mean?
Solid eye contact, strong voice, humor, openness and honesty without being feared of opinions. Detached from present and future – calm.
It’s the optimal state of mind I strive for daily; carrying yourself with effortless force.
How can you get into this state of mind?
There’s something peculiar about this state and it
feels amazing to be in. It makes you feel at ease with
yourself and your life, unstifled in social situation,
removed from judgments. There’s just so little
thought bullshit passing trough your mind.
Everything feels kinda “sorted out”.
If you’re an over-thinker like myself you’ll probably recognize the value of becoming detached from your thoughts.
Here’s some ways I’m using to get into that state on a regular basis;
Write down your thoughts to clear out your mental clutter. Something I’ve turned into a daily habit by journaling and writing on this blog.
Take out the mental trash.
When you take time to pause your thoughts in the morning you carry that effect with you throughout the day.
Meditating makes me more open, relaxed and social as opposed to rigidly structured. Basically it’s a nice way to filter out the bullshit in your life and really become “present’ instead of being sad about the past or anxious about the future.
Try to focus on your breathing; 5 counts in – 5 hold – 5 out. Drink some tea whilst you’re at it and become an observer of your life. Remove all possible distractions (cell-phone, laptop, sounds, …) whilst you’re at it.
You can choose whether to close your eyes or not. I usually just do a blank stare at my dorm-wall for about 10 minutes and (try to) think about nothing.
There’s something about physical exercise that clears out your mind like nothing else. The rhythmic contractions of your muscles, the music, the endorphins flowing trough your veins.
Nothing is comparable really.
Pick up something cyclical/repetitive like weightlifting, cycling, running, swimming, walking, boxing and so-on.
Many types of exercise fit the bill.
We all have our unique activities in which we can “lose” our-self. The point in which we are totally immersed in the task at hand and where we lose track of time. Also referred to as “the zone”
From flow-moments we derive a high sense of satisfaction and emotional well-being. Everybody should have (at least) one of these. They are jobs/tasks that we enjoy for the mere sake of doing it, feeling competent at challenging work.
Flow can be found in many of your favorite activities; gardening, music, bowling, … .
I get this mainly from writing, weightlifting and cooking sometimes. Find a task you can empty your mind into.
Being grounded feels awesome – It allows you to be in “the flow of life. ”
One the one hand; strive towards your ideal self. If you’re fat, lazy, poor, socially handicapped you should feel bad about yourself. Passivity is self-destructive.
Self-acceptance for being less than you can be is not OK.
Strive towards becoming your best self, giving 100% at all times. But also, when you’re doing that, allow yourself to feel valuable
It’s OK (even mandatory) – to take some time in the morning to prospect on where you’re going in life, what kind of person you envision to be and what priorities you should complete that day.
It’s OK – To additionally reflect on your days at the end, to get better guidance for the future.
But from that point onward?
Allow yourself to clear your head of all the bullshit you’re telling yourself; meditate, write, exercise, find flow. Become detached from excessive thoughts which otherwise fuck up your life.
This way you’ll become at ease with who you are and where you’re going.
Not frantically working towards an end that you – ultimately – have no control over.
Self defined, Self directed, Self-supported.
Thanks for reading this short article on improving your state of mind. If you know anyone who would benefit from reading this article – be sure to throw him/her a link ;) Anyway; If you’re having some thoughts/suggestions on this article, be sure to leave those in the comment section below.
Take care & stay strong
Note: A lot of the performance standards I have now are to compensate for the person (video game nerd) I used to be. Self-acceptance comes difficult sometimes.
NoteNote: These practices might not be sufficient to completely block out the constant stream of thoughts you’re having – but they’ll at least “turn down the volume” on the bullshit you’re telling yourself.