Justin Confalone February 1, 2019 Lifestyle
With all the hustle of everyday life and the strain it causes on us, it’s no wonder the world seems so self-focused. We all have lives and priorities in those lives that absorb us into our own worlds. It’s only natural.
I hate to say it, but getting out of our own head isn’t really possible, at least, not in the way we believe. If we analyze our own minds too much, we end up deeper in thought than when we started. In this way, most minds are like prisons that tighten security each time we try to escape. We find safety in our prison, and this safety stops us from having as much social interaction as we should.
Why is this?
It’s because people are afraid to leave comfort in any form, be it taking a cold shower (link to the previous article, I just don’t have it), going to the gym, or in this case, escaping the mind. Most minds get caught between worries of the past and anxieties of the future, stopping them from acknowledging the most important time thing the mind should think about: The present moment.
Mindfulness and meditation practices tend to get a bad rep, but once you move past some of the superstition around it, it’s scientific application has been proven to put us in the now. When someone is wrapped up in their own head they aren’t completely living, instead, they are using what’s before them as a backdrop for mind wandering.
According to this study, the brain’s default mode is to wander. And while brain wandering has its own benefits as seen here, it has a much greater association with increased anxiety and depression. Imagine this:
You’re sitting on a train on your way home from work, class, it doesn’t really matter because right across the aisle from you is one of the most attractive women you have ever laid your eyes on. She just seems perfect and you want nothing more than to go talk to her. Right here, at this moment your brain has been forced into the now and is ready to act on your desire to approach her. Then, before you talk the anxiety sets in; perhaps you’ve had bouts with rejection in the past and all of them come flooding back to the surface in a torrent. Or perhaps rejection is a feeling you (and everyone else) hate and a few seconds after your massive confidence boost hits, you grow anxious and your head begins to fill with scenarios of you getting rejected and shunned by the entire train, your friends, and the entire world… so you stay quiet. Right there, in those few seconds, you were taken in and out of your own head, and because you didn’t act, you began to worry about the past and the future.
“Doubt and fear are the great enemies of knowledge, and he who encourages them, who does not slay them, thwarts himself at every step.”– James Allen (As a Man Thinketh)
Our mindset is our everything, it’s what separates a CEO from the person who gives up when the going gets tough. While we are more than our thoughts, how we think a major part of who we are, and getting caught up in your own head is a perfect way to ensure your thoughts will never be constructive. Here’s why you need to leave these thoughts behind.
You’ll See the World as a Better Place
If you’ve ever talked with an outdoorsy-type, you’ll know that when you immerse yourself in nature you learn to appreciate it more. The same is true when you get out of your head, instead of living in a constant state of point A to point B, focusing on the now opens you up to the beauty we all take for granted. The world really is an amazing place, but few people experience it because the thought never even crosses their mind. It sounds fake, but think about it, how often do you take a moment for yourself and forget about everything else, just for that moment?
“I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a good catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot black coffee.”– Dale Cooper (Twin Peaks)
Sometimes you just have to let yourself be overwhelmed by the surroundings to experience the now, so take a deep breath in, and smile. Which leads us into the next reason.
You’ll be More Relaxed
Obviously, telling your brain to focus less on the past and future will make you less anxious… But it goes much deeper. I know mindfulness is thrown around all the time, but it does have some real benefits. According to this study, the ability to detach from your own thoughts has been strongly linked to a decrease in stress. Just think about it, once you’re out of your head, you’ll be outside of the metaphorical house looking in and realize that things aren’t nearly as stressful as they seem.
Your Relationships Will Improve
Perhaps the most unattractive trait anyone can have is neediness. While nobody is completely comfortable with themselves (and nobody ever will be), solely relying on others for validation and not at least feeling somewhat comfortable with yourself are bad habits to have. Going back to the train example from before, you’re at your most needy when you’re inside your head. When you imagine possibilities through a lens of neediness, almost all of them involve getting rejected and shunned by those around you; and you know you’re better than that. When you’re out of your head and into the now, the drama of your world disappears for a bit. You realize that there’s actually nothing to lose by talking to her and that being rejected isn’t the worst thing ever. And that regardless of her answer, life will still go on, same as, or even better than it did before.
You’re Self Worth Will Skyrocket
One of the most common ways we get trapped in our own head is through a cycle of self-attacking. When we attack ourselves, we’re caught up in the worst of our past and as a result, any thought of the future is ridden with anxiety. A study found that by being in the now, we view the world through a non-judgemental lens, and because of that lens we stop judging ourselves so much. When we stop caring so much about what others think, we tend to look into our own self-values more… leading to a massive confidence boost.
You’ll be Put on the Path to Becoming the Best You Possible
Once you learn to harness the power of the mind, instead of immersing yourself in the bad of the past or the worries of the future, you can direct its power on you as a person. Humans all have the unique ability to become self-aware, so why not use it? According to an article by the HuffPost, getting out of our heads and into the present moment helps us look at ourselves and situation without personal bias, allowing us to take the best approach possible with what we have. Once we remove outside beliefs and our own personal bias, a lot of the static is removed when looking into our heads and something close to clarity is reached. While self-reflection may seem like a way back into our own heads, if used correctly and not done all the time, it can be extremely beneficial to know where we are, what we want, and how to enjoy the journey!
Now that the benefits are out there, the question becomes how can we get out of our heads?
How Can We Get Out of Our Heads?
We’ll break down this section into three parts, getting over the past, silencing anxiety about the future, and becoming more in tune with the now.
Getting Over the Past
Believe me, I know this part sounds counterproductive, but to borrow from Life Coach Tony Robbins, in order to shed your emotional baggage and get over the past, you have to go deep, embrace it, and then let it go. Whatever anxieties or past events may be holding you back, go there, and through a lens of unbiased-observation watch where your mind goes. This part may hurt, but it’s the most crucial step if the past is the reason you’re still stuck in your head. Once you’ve gone deep, bring yourself back out of it and tell yourself why you reacted the way you did. Once you rationalize the feeling it becomes far less scary. For some reason, if the problem still hasn’t gone away or gets worse, talk to a psychiatrist, they are far more qualified than any article could ever be.
Silencing Anxiety of the Future
I told myself I wouldn’t preach meditation here, but honestly, if you take away all the stigma, meditation is an amazing practice for stopping worries. I don’t have to tell you that there are literally hundreds of studies like this that mention how meditation will help you thrive in life. Don’t even worry about looking up a guide, just find a comfortable area, get into the most relaxed position possible, throw on relaxing music, and concentrate on your breath for five minutes. That’s it, no chakra, no incense, nothing but you and your breath for a few minutes a day. I’m sure you’ve already heard the benefits thousands of times, so what’s stopping you from giving it a try?
Focusing on the Present
You can dive through your emotions or count your breathing all you want, but none of it will matter if you can’t live in the present from time to time. To start tuning into the present; take Dale Cooper’s advice and once a day, treat yourself to something small and forget everything else while you enjoy that one thing. Hyperfocus on it, everything about it, silence your thoughts for a bit and enjoy it, take a deep breath in and realize how amazing the world really is. There will always be time to dwell on your mind, but every day, focus on that gift and nothing else, then you will have taken your first steps into the present. Once you find a good balance between using your brain to think and to observe, stick to it and reap all of the amazing benefits.