August 5, 2014
From “Agnes” cartoon, August 1, 2014
It feels like my thoughts are racing in tiny Formula One cars, up one side of my brain and down the other. Some crash and burn, some stall and hit the wall, some blow a motor and leave a toxic trail of antifreeze and busted parts. It just makes me crazy.
How do you keep your thoughts from driving you crazy?
Trout (Agnes’ best friend):
I don’t buy ‘em cars.
Many of us experience life like Agnes does. Our thoughts race through our brains like Formula One cars: crashing, stalling, or blowing motors. Those thoughts clutter the track and don’t allow the thoughts that are still operating to drive through the mess and get to the finish line. Then, like Agnes, we feel like we’re going crazy. We can’t make good decisions because of all the debris.
Often we can’t sleep because of all the cars roaring around our brain. We don’t give proper attention to the task at hand, be it driving, developing a business plan, or playing with our children. We miss what is important.
– We don’t see the car that just cut off the driver ahead of us and miss taking proper precautions to avoid an accident.
– We type incorrect numbers into our business plan that should give us the information we need to succeed.
– We miss that precious moment when our child reveals what is on his/her mind. We only hear the words and not the meaning behind them. “I’m afraid of spiders” could mean “I’m afraid of my teacher.”
So what do we do about it? Like Trout, we “don’t buy ‘em cars.” We have to deliberately slow our thoughts to walking speed. Only in that way can we discern whether this thought or that one will help us and those around us. Yes, easier said than done. However, once we learn how to slow our thoughts, life will begin to bloom around us. Several years ago I arrived at a meeting and announced, “I saw flowers today. I heard the birds singing.” I had not realized how much of life was absent because I gave all my attention to my racing thoughts.
We have many ways to learn to slow our thoughts. We can notice our breathing is fast and shallow and take a moment to breathe deeply and slowly. After practicing a while, we’ll notice when our breathing is too rapid and automatically slip into conscious breathing patterns.
We can meditate. We can do formal practices like yoga or focusing on a candle flame, always good for our mental and physical health. Prayer is good, if done consciously. Sitting down and allowing the thoughts to float away helps. A walk in the woods is refreshing. When exercising we tend to start our routine with rapid, incomplete repetitions, but soon we slow into a deliberate pattern which helps both our body and mind. These are just a few suggestions. If we stop a minute and think about what works, we’ll recognize our best choice.
Those methods and many more have the same conclusion. They slow our breathing and our thoughts. We can focus on the issue at hand and make conscious decisions based on our needs and wants, not what just what seems easiest at the time or which race car is damaged least. Our thought tracks are clear of debris. We can stride to the finish line carrying that checkered flag.
Thank you for teaching us to slow down and get more done. Thank you for giving us methods to slow those race cars in our brain. Thank you for giving us clear thought patterns. You made us with brains and bodies that help us reach our goals. This is a gift we treasure and use with care.
And so it is.
Sharon D. Dillon, firstname.lastname@example.org and Laugh your way to peace, love and joy at http://energywriter.me
Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com
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