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racing thoughts and minds

Posted Oct 14 2010 8:52am

Most people's first response to racing thoughts is, "OMG, get rid of these things!!!!"

Makes sense, right? Racing thoughts are awful! And they can feel so out of control.

The thing is, though, probably the worst thing we can do is try to make them stop. Trying directly to make them go away mostly just makes them worse- faster racing and more out of control feeling.

I've found that addressing them indirectly works much better. I have people pick something to focus on- like a statement they can repeat to themselves. One of my favorites for people is "stay right in front of my feet." Others that work well are, "don't get ahead of myself" or "right this second things are ok" or "don't fly out into the future."

Racing thoughts tend to be free-floating worrying/panicking about things that may happen in the future. Lots of times we get caught up in all the contingencies about what could happen and what we "should' do about it when it does happen and how we can prevent it from happening and how lame we are if we let it happen and how lame we are for having all these thoughts in the first place and if we were only better or smarter or thinner none of this would be happening and oh no maybe people don't actually like us like we thought they did and what if that's true and it's probably our fault and what should we do about it and.... (something like that?!)

Pretty nightmarish, right?

I'm not saying we don't ever get lots of things on our minds. That's pretty normal, actually. What I'm saying is that the racing thoughts thing is anxiety based and doesn't help us sort out anything- actually gets in the way of sorting out things. 

If we can practice (as usual!) staying in the moment and not drifting (or cascading) out into the unknown of the future, our thoughts won't tend to race so much- and cause all that agony that racing thoughts generally cause! 

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