It’s all the same no matter what you do. Something happens at work and it plays in a loop in your brain even in your downtime. You’d like to think you’re considering every angle, but really you’re in a state of helpless worry. There’s a fine line between visualizing what can happen to prepare and letting a situation take over your brain.
I’m not just talking about negative work situations either. Dwelling on the positive can waste as much time as focusing on the negative. For example, I have a deal going at work right now which if it goes through will be extremely positive for all involved. I want it to work out. But there are a few things we have to get through to make it a solid deal. None of them are the slightest bit in my control. The biggest hurdle is ten days away. I have to wait.
In the meantime, my brain would like to dwell on how it will all play out. All this dwelling comes at the expense of other thoughts and actions. To combat this brain takeover, I’ve made a list of ways to pull my mind away from the nagging.
- Write about it: This post is my open commitment to stop thinking about this deal for the next ten days. I could write about it in a journal. I’ve neglected my journal since starting my blog, but I think it would work just as well. I could write about it on a piece of loose leaf and gain the same results. There is something to getting it out of your head that deadens the obsession a little.
- Stop the thought train early: The farther I go down the rabbit hole the harder it is to get out. I’ve set an alert in my head to distract myself the minute this subject pops up.
- Read Instead of TV: I’m generally a bigger reader than TV watcher. If I watch TV, it’s background noise. I pick a show that takes no thought while I do something else. Lately, I’ve been watching back episodes of The Good Wife. I haven’t watched The Crown or This is Us or whatever is popular, because I’d probably have to pay attention to these shows. Reading demands my attention. When I’m reading, I can’t think about work.
- Force yourself to write: I’ve set an hour every day to write. I’m pushing myself to do it now. I actually dreamed about this deal last night. (When I say my brain doesn’t like to give up a thought, I’m not kidding.) I would’ve preferred to obsess about this all morning, but no, now is my time to write. And even though it would seem I’m still thinking about the deal, not really. The details have all gone to sleep and the worry has dissipated.
- Meditate: I think about meditating more than I do it. However, I recognize that the more I meditate the more aware of what my brain is doing. I’ll catch the obsessiveness before it latches in there to hard. Ideally, I’d like to use this deal to grow better habits. Even if it doesn’t work out, if I can use it to improve my meditation game, it’ll be worth it.
Do you have any tips for breaking the loop in your brain? I know it can’t just be me. I’ll take any advice on this one I can get.