For so many years I believed I was at the mercy of my mind. If it was full of anxiety I often ended up experiencing an anxiety attack. If it was full of nervousness or fear I ended up being incapable of pursuing the goal or task.
As I began studying psychology in college and then reading dozens of self-development books that focused on thoughts and habit patterns, I realized that I had all the power over my mind all along, but just didn’t know how to take control of it.
What a life altering experience!
As a person who thrives on being in control, this was such a reassuring discovery.
You mean I don’t have to live according to what my mind chooses to focus on that day?
I don’t have to feel nervous if I don’t want to?
I don’t have to feel anxious if I don’t want to? Wow!
All of a sudden I felt freedom as I’d never experienced before. I became aware of the thoughts I was thinking that had held me back for so many years. Thoughts such as:
- I don’t know how to do that.
- I’m confused.
- I’m not sure if that will work.
- I can’t do that if it’s not going to be perfect.
- What if I fail?
These statements are soooo self-limiting! Don’t let your brain let you escape from figuring out the answers. A couple mantras I began saying all the time was, “there is a solution to every problem.” and “I need to figure out the strategy that will solve this obstacle.”
Now I was able to live in a way that gave me control and the power I always sought.
Here's what I recommend you do:
1. Brainstorm all the questions you ask yourself and try to eliminate the negative, self-limiting ones. Change them so they are empowering.
- How can I treat myself with respect?
- How can I make sure I’m spending my time in the most valuable way?
- How can I solve this problem once and for all so I can grow and improve?
2. Be aware of what your mind is thinking of. Be in control. Don’t let your brain be on default because it will almost always lead you down the path of least resistance which is often the opposite direction you want to go.
3. Ask yourself why you do what you do. What are you thinking about before you do it?
This past weekend I totally hit a low spot. I have been pushing myself really hard in my businesses and sticking to my half-marathon training plan, keeping up with all the family demands and the kids’ school and sporting events.
I was feeling so defeated because things aren’t progressing as quickly as I had anticipated, it’s a lot harder than I thought. I was overwhelmed with self doubt and lack of confidence.
At the moment though, I didn’t realize this. All I knew was that I felt like I was out of control….like I was watching my life unfold from outside my body. It was freaky and very unsettling.
I have had a panic attack once in my life, as a teenager, when my anxiety was really out of control. As I grew older I was more able to control it....most of the time.
I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that I am in control of my thoughts, so therefore I could have shut off that anxiety attack before it escalated into a panic attack. But I guess it’s better late than never.
This past weekend is a situation that would have led me into a panic attack had I not known what I know now about the mind.
I was able to rein myself in and ask myself, “what are the thoughts I’m thinking right now?”.
4. I recommend doing a thought dump where you take a deep breath and write on paper all the thoughts that are going on in your head.
When I did this exercise, it was so obvious what was leading to my anxiety attack because almost all my thoughts were something along the lines of:
- “How can I keep up with all my responsibilities? I don’t want to neglect my kids or my businesses.”
- “What is wrong with me that I’m falling behind? I used to have this under control.”
- “I can’t do everything I want for my business, so should I even try?.”
- “My business is going to be a flop because I can’t figure out how to work 36 hour a day”.
- “I don’t have the time to do everything as well as I want.”
- “I have too many thoughts/ideas coming to my mind that I can’t stay focused on one thing.”
Just by asking myself “WHY am I feeling so low?” allowed me to noticed that my anxiety attack was caused by these thoughts I was thinking. I wanted to stop these awful feelings of being out of control and a failure as soon as possible.
After my mini-meltdown of tears and feeling sorry for myself, I chose to switch my thinking to, “I am a mess right now, but I can figure this out. I am going to list everything I want to accomplish in my life/business and then will prioritize 2 things and will solely focus on those. Everything else can wait. No one will die if I don’t do it all immediately.”
I can not even tell you how much better I felt after this exercise. My mind somehow started freaking out without me paying attention and it went too far.
Luckily, I used the knowledge I had and reined it in before it got totally out of hand. Without a doubt, this would have led me down a long road of anxiety and lack of motivation had I not regained control of my mind.
I’m so thankful to have learned this life skill and feel called to share it with as many other women as possible. If you know of someone who would benefit from this message, please encourage them to visit my blog at emprovedlife.com
Life is meant to be enjoyed and an opportunity for us to provide a valuable contribution to others, but if we aren’t in control of our minds, then it makes it difficult, if not impossible to do so.
Feel free to share with me your thoughts on controlling your mind so you can live the meaningful life you desire to live.
P.S. I'd love to see you in the Facebook group, Empire of Moms where we learn so much more about designing our ideal lives.
We learn how to take control of our minds and our spaces by incorporating organizational systems and productivity skills.
I'll see you there!