Living in modern society has its perks, but it has its downsides too.
Yes, we live longer, have more material pleasures at our disposal, can travel, and enjoy greater equity.
On the other hand, we work a lot. We work too much. We work even when we are not at our workplace. We do this in order to benefit from all of the modern life perks. Business success has become one of the most valued parts of our life.
More and more people choose career and money over family and social life. Success in that area is one of the modern world's top priorities.
To maintain this lifestyle, we keep our minds busy 24/7. We analyze, plan, overthink, ruminate, judge, remember; we get distracted and find relaxing almost impossible. Do you remember the last time when your mind was comfortably blank? Do you ever let yourself not to think and just go with the flow?
Self-awareness teaches us how to do both things: how to be successful and how to let yourself actually enjoy life at the same time. It all starts with a clear mind. (1)
How to Recognize a Busy Mind
Our minds are constantly working, that's just how they function. No one expects you to try to stop that. At the same time, you are entitled to have control over it. You should be able to slow down when you want to or to go blank and meditate for a while, to get some headspace. That is not an easy thing to do.
But, how does the busy mind manifest? What effects does it leave on your life? Let's see.
1. Being sloppy
Have you ever knocked on your door before exiting, not entering? Have you put on two different shoes and went to work without noticing your mistake? Have you ever poured your dog's food right into his still full bowl of water?
These accidents happen to everyone. We usually think it is because we are in a hurry, but it is a clear sign that we are distracted and not paying attention. It means that your mind has been weakened by constant busyness.
2. Errand after errand
Take some time to think about your last 24 hours, or even the whole past week. What did you do precisely? Were you working, running errands, or doing chores most of the time? Pretend that someone invited you out for dinner, to a party, or a simple friend gathering. Were you delighted and said yes or did you cancel the plans because of the enormous amount of stuff that needed to be done?
When you are overly busy like that, your mind is working in full-speed, too. You are not focused on things you are doing or the people you are with. You are mostly thinking about all of the tasks left to do. It makes you feel like you are losing control and there is no end in sight.
3. Repetitive thoughts
As if it wasn't enough that our mind is busy with our daily habits and challenges, there are thoughts about central themes in our life which keep repeating. “I need to finish my thesis,” “I need to make more money,” “I need to stop smoking,” and so on.
Yes, those are all very important subjects, and it is great that you are aware of them. But, if you are not working on them currently there is no need for them to interfere from the back of your mind. Sometimes we are not even aware of them, and they just creep up on us. This process makes us exhausted and drained at the end of the day.
One of your biggest enemies. It keeps your mind busy during the day and peaks before you fall asleep.
Let's imagine that you have a simple problem: you are late on your electricity bill. Not the end of the world, but then you think, “What if power company shuts me off?”, “If I pay that bill I won't have money for my phone…”, “Why am I not earning more money?”, “Maybe I'm worthless if I'm not able to pay my own bills.”, “How do I ask my parents for a loan?”, and so on. Does this sound familiar?
Stop that. It is a problem admittedly, but you don't have to make it into a catastrophe. Overthinking is a significant cause of chronic stress. It creates at the very least tension and anxiety. Chronic stress can lead to many health problems. It drains your energy and is not constructive.
You recognized yourself in these examples, didn't you? It means your mind is busy. Most people function that way. That doesn't mean they are doomed to fail, but they may burn out someday. It is the reality that they don't have to live in this way; they can choose a different path.
RELATED COURSE LESSON
Day 3 of 30 Days of Brave
Success Without a Busy Mind
Many people think that having your mind on a high-speed is necessary for success. On the contrary, slowing down and being self-aware is crucial in lasting success, not only in business but in any area of your life.
Getting to know yourself fully, your habits, beliefs, thoughts, emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and whole personality, will give you space to calm your mind. You’ll stop obsessing about little things so much, start appreciating life more and enjoying it as much as you can. When you know yourself, you know how to succeed in any field.
Here are some tips on calming your mind and developing self-awareness:
The first and most important tip: learn how to meditate. Start by sitting or lying on your back as comfortably as possible. Slowly breathe out, and breathe in. Count your breaths at the beginning to keep your mind from wandering off. If it still does, take notice of it, but don't scold yourself. Simply shift your attention back to the breathing.
Listen to what's happening in your surroundings; listen to your body and the sounds it is producing. Start relaxing your muscles. Begin at your toes and finish at the top of your head. Feel every little muscle relaxing itself. Be calm and breathe.
Start by meditating ten minutes a day. It is just a few minutes and the benefits (besides quieting your busy mind) are tremendous. You can learn more about them in this video:
2. Three “Why's”
Before you make any decision ask yourself “Why?”. After you answer it, ask another “Why?“ and then repeat a third time. If you can list three good reasons to do something, you'll be more confident about it. This will help prevent you from overthinking your decision.
This aids in exploring and learning more about your motivation in life, which is an important part of becoming more self-aware.
3. Monitor your repetitive thoughts
Pay attention to the general themes of your repetitive thoughts. Do you mostly criticize yourself? Do you dismiss your achievements as small, unimportant, or as a result of luck?
Don't forget to celebrate your wins, however small they were and forgive yourself for your mistakes. All of your experiences are valuable; you can learn from every single one of them. The negative loop that you keep spinning around your head must be balanced with positive thoughts and self-compassion. This way you'll gain more control over that auto-pilot that drives you around.
4. Seek constructive feedback and learn how to accept it
You don't have to keep asking yourself if you were good on your last work presentation or why your date didn't call you back. It is much more constructive to ask people who were directly involved. Ask them for their opinion on your behavior and your performances. Remind them to tell you about both good and bad sides, and to remain completely honest.
Also, when you receive feedback, don't try to explain yourself. Just accept it as it is and if you assess that some of your behaviors need changing, work in that direction. If you think that someone's feedback wasn't much related to your actual behavior, accept it as one of the many images that people create about you. (2)
This can stop overthinking, and it will surely make you more self-aware. It gives you an opportunity to work on yourself, your communication, skills, and beliefs which will make you a better and more successful person.
As you comprehend the concept of self-awareness and become more self-aware along the way, your mind will slowly abate. You'll learn many things about yourself, and you will realize you have much more free time because working with a calm mind means working faster and more efficiently.