How to give your brain a rest from negative thought chatter

Give yourself a rest from the incessant brain chatter

We all have so many thoughts a day, some estimates are around 60,000 thoughts a day. And we know that not all of those thoughts are positive, self affirming thoughts. If we leave the brain to its own devices the thoughts that come out of there are not always the most positive.

I think we sometimes have this idea that the brain is the brain and thoughts come out of it and there is nothing we can do. So, some people have positive, happy thoughts and great lives. And other people, like you or like me, have negative, sad thoughts and have lives that we have to put up with or endure. And that’s just our lot in life.

Negative thought chatter starts early in the day

I know this to be true for myself and maybe you do too. You wake up in the morning and for a few free seconds everything seems ok. And then our brain gets fired up for the day and sends us a stream of problems to solve, and/or reminds us of any recent or ancient personal failings and general inability to cope with life. And then that is how we face the day, lugging those thoughts around, thinking that’s our lot in life, to drag around those brain thoughts and cope. Just cope.

I don’t know how you think of it, or how you identify it or whether you identify it at all. I call it negative brain chatter. It’s as if my brain wakes up and is like the moaniest, most negative neighbour in the street, leaning over the garden fence and just spewing out negative thoughts and unsolicited advice.

For many women we cope with this constant chatter, and it runs through our brain relentlessly. It’s like a negative thought chatter highway.

Negative thought chatter and buffering

And then there’s the buffering.

Buffering is how we cope with the negative thought chatter highway. It’s procrastination for negative thoughts.

Buffering is activity that you do which stops, albeit temporarily, a negative situation. It doesn’t deal with the situation. It stops you thinking or feeling about something that you don’t want to think or feel.

Buffering stops you feeling anxious, worried, afraid. It stops you thinking about how to work out a problem or find a solution to a problem you don’t want to face.

It’s like a roadblock on the negative thought chatter highway. It will stop the cars – the thoughts – getting through to you on the other side. But the cars are just piling up on the other side of the roadblock and they won’t be held back forever and the mess that is created by the pile up is arguably worse than the thoughts themselves.

But that buffer gives you temporary respite from the negative thought chatter highway.

Buffering is activities like overeating, drinking or over-drinking, smoking, scrolling on your phone. They are actions that give you a dopamine hit, make you feel better instantly and give you temporary respite from the negative chatter in your head.

Negative thought chatter is exhausting

I know from my own personal experience and maybe you do too, that negative thought chatter is exhausting. It is physically and mentally draining to have a constant bombardment of brain chatter going on in our lives.

We all know the peace we get on holiday. When we finally roll out the towel, lie down in the sun and lie back, thinking of nothing except how warm it is, whether we might cool off in the pool and what we might eat for dinner.

We know that feeling and we look forward to it so much. Many of us think that the only way to escape the negative thought chatter is to go on holiday. Which is kind of funny isn’t it? To move physical location, maybe many miles away, to escape your own brain thoughts!

Living lives we don’t want because of negative thought chatter

So we have these thoughts, our negative thought chatter highway, and we have our way of dealing with the highway, by buffering, but don’t provide a permanent solution or change the situation, or deal with our thoughts.

And we think this is how we live, balancing precariously between the highway and the roadblock, all the while longing for the lounger by the pool.  I’m smiling as I write the because I’m sure you know exactly what I mean, and the smiling is me remembering I was right there in that place.

Dealing with negative thought chatter

The good news is that you CAN choose what thoughts you are going to allow in your brain.  In fact it is your job to monitor what your brain is and isn’t focussing on. Knowing that you are in control of your thoughts, how you react to them and therefore how your day turns out, is incredibly empowering.

Your brain may give you 500 negative thoughts a day and at each point you are totally able to say, “Thank you brain, I’ve got this. Let’s think about this instead.”, or, “Thank you brain for being scared on my behalf, but why don’t we think about it in this way rather than freak out because the bathroom isn’t clean?”

How to manage your thoughts – Five steps to eliminating negative thought chatter

You can only address what you identify and you can only identify what you are aware of.

Firstly you need to be aware of what your thoughts are. You need a way of creating a space for yourself where you have the time to just be aware of our thoughts. Instead of running from them, or ignoring them, you need a space to be able to turn around and look at them and find out more about them.

Secondly, you need to create a calm environment for yourself. Negative brain chatter is toxic. It creates such an awful environment for you to live your life. And if this negative thought pattern has been going on for any length of time you might have become accustomed to this toxic environment. So you need to create a calm environment for yourself.

Thirdly, you need a method or structure for being able to examine your thoughts. A good framework to be able to address your thoughts helps enormously. Writing on paper, creating a routine, having time set aside on a regular basis, specifically for thinking about what you are thinking about is an invaluable use of your time.

Fourthly you need space to breathe and to be you. Most women I know have stopped being themselves in one way or another. The pressures of family life, juggling careers and home life, demands of family. The organising and facilitating of other peoples’ lives can have a detrimental effect on our own. You need a space to breathe, to think your own thoughts, to remember who you are and to decide who you want to be.

Fifthly you need a space to be able to choose your thoughts deliberately so that you can choose how to live your life. If you are speeding down negative thought chatter highway you are not able to intentionally choose where to get off, park up and set up house. You might see neighbourhoods or scenery passing by you and they look lovely and you’d like to investigate further. But if you’re on the highway and Don’t know how to get off you won’t be able to.

Wardrobe journaling

This is why I created wardrobe journaling.

Wardrobe journaling is a way of identifying our thoughts and feelings about ourselves. We do that through a simple journaling process. That journaling process takes you through a step by step process to get to your thoughts, examine them and then choose which ones to keep and which ones to discard.

The process takes you through your thoughts about yourself and what you wear.

It approaches your negative thought chatter in a soothing, sympathetic way.

You examine your thoughts about yourself, why you choose to wear the clothes you wear.

And then you spend time thinking about what you might prefer to wear. You think about how you would like to turn up in this world each day. You think about how you want to live your life.

It’s a soothing, calm process that is also great fun and revealing. It’s a voyage of discovery about yourself. It stops you travelling down the negative thought chatter highway at breakneck speed.  It gives you the opportunity to take back your own thoughts and to decide what thoughts you want to think and which thoughts you no longer want to think.

Join the Wardrobe Journaling course

You can read more about the Wardrobe Journaling course HERE.

Wardrobe Journaling is a great process. In 6 days we will work through your thoughts about yourself, how you feel about yourself, how you’d like to feel about yourself.

At the end of the 6 days you will have a list of thoughts you are going to keep about yourself and develop. Thoughts about who you want to be and how you want to live your life.

You are also going to have a list of thoughts you are going to drop about yourself. Thoughts which aren’t helpful and might not be true.

It’s a beautiful process.

It’s a way of sorting out your life in a kind, compassionate way.

I’d love for you to join me inside Wardrobe Journaling. Take a look HERE and see you in a few short weeks for the start of the course.

Have a great day,

Sarah

 

 

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