I was working with a business leader the other day, talking about his perception that he would have greater success if he lost weight and felt better, less self-conscious, of himself in front of other people. He explained that while he wants to lose weight, and often obsesses about what he believes is a need to lose weight, he is also unable to find the discipline to stay on a weight loss program. In this way, he undermines his efforts to gain greater success.
His constant thoughts about food, his next meal, what’s for dinner, or where he going for lunch are with him throughout the day and have the profound impact of keeping him from other productive activity. His thinking pattern has multiple deleterious effects: it keeps him from getting positive weight loss results, prevents him from focusing on his work and interferes with his health.
It goes without saying that this obsessive thinking pattern is not unique to him or to a weight loss scenario. It happens to all of us, for different reasons and at different times. That’s why the question of how to quiet our obsessive thoughts is universal and important to explore. Here, I want to help you answer the questions, “How do I quiet my mind? How do I move on? How do I let these ideas percolate for a while until I can come back to them?”
It’s a given: we cannot stop our minds from thinking – about weight, our next task, our disappointments in business and personal lives, our relationships, our concerns, our desires, our yearnings. The optimal solution is to figure out why the problem exists and how to change the problematic dynamic.
Let’s start from the premise that thinking is reality and in our thoughts we record and create our reality. If you obsessively worry, for example, about whether you screwed up by something you said at work that wasn’t very circumspect, your reality will be anxious and unsettled. If you think over and over that a boyfriend is not going to call, again, you will reach a point of diminishing effectiveness and productivity because you cannot move on to more important and immediate objectives. So, your reality, in each case, takes you out of the present moment and negatively affects your present state of mind and productivity. To move on, to empower yourself, to disempower your negative, these are your objectives. Resolve to meet your issues head on.
I want you to try to rearrange your thoughts and find a real solution that works for you.
First, go into a place that I call the “rabbit hole.” This is a place where you dig deep and sort out your fears. For example, in a weight loss situation, maybe your real fear is that if you are thinner, more will be expected of you. Or, perhaps you are very self-conscious about your body and, though you know you have to engage in an exercise routine, the thought of putting on shorts or a gym outfit terrifies you. Or maybe, like my executive coaching client, the actual fear is of success itself. The underlying fear can differ for all of us.
Second, here you are in the “rabbit hole.” You’ve identified what is scaring you or holding you back. What you do next is ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” Very consciously don’t let your negativity take over. Instead of obsessing about what might be wrong, set up strategies for making the situation better, for correcting what went wrong. Get to the hub of the problem and end it before it gets worse. If you’ve written a report and submitted it but are still obsessing about its content, go back to the report and pinpoint your concerns; if necessary make the changes and resubmit rather than waiting for the negative reviews. If there are no changes to be made, then consider that there was nothing you could have done to change the outcome. Reality is reality and sometimes you really can’t interfere. MOVE ON.
And, in the weight loss scenario, you might take the realistic approach that if you put on tight gym pants and look bad. It’s no big deal. Who cares what you look like when your plan is to take care of yourself? Or, maybe you will no longer be able to blame your “fatness” for your lack of social interactions, friends or business success. Now, that is a serious concern. But, getting to the bottom of the problem is vital. Recognizing what is the actual problem is a terrific thing because it opens you to the possibility of new relationships, social interactions or progress in business. AGAIN MOVE ON.
Third, identify the culprit. Find out what is causing you to go down into the rabbit hole in the first place. Why are you so insecure about your weight? I get that the extra weight may not feel good but why be insecure about it. Consider exploring the deeper side of the rabbit hole and getting rid of it forever (something that can be achieved with Neuro Emotional Coaching®). You may also want to take a look at how you and others may learn from the mistakes. The fact that you are obsessing tells you about yourself. It mirrors something in your past that causes you to react with concern or worry. Learn from your obsessive thoughts. Let them reveal a new part of you. Figure out what works for you personally to help you move on.
Finally, we all have obsessions, thoughts that are hurtful, helpful, anxiety-provoking, distasteful, harmful or supportive. Make it your personal goal to turn obsessions into positive outcomes. Is a business report bothering you? Resolve to do better in the future and map out a plan. Is your relationship is taking you to dark places? Remember why you are in the relationship and understand that you are loved, cared for and nurtured, by yourself first and foremost. Is it your weight? Think about the new positive feelings that you will have about yourself after you’ve successfully applied yourself to a plan.
Take it one step at a time. Whatever you do, give yourself some room and make yourself a priority. Remember this, you have to be productive in your everyday life. Obsessive thoughts will take you away. Don’t let that happen to you. MOVE ON.
As a Leadership Coach, Personal Life Coach, and author of From Intuition to Entrepreneurship: a Woman’s Guide to Following Her Dream, Barbara has the insight to achieve quick and lasting success with a focus on bottom-line results. And, since success involves the entire person, Barbara has created Neuro Emotional Coaching®, a cutting edge 4-step process rooted in neuroscience that combines personal coaching with knowledge of the human brain and its impact on change and leadership.