Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Most people don’t understand how to take charge of their own thoughts

Maisel’s research on the creative mind explains how racing brains don’t come with an off switch. 

That they can overwhelm a person’s system and cause anxiety, restlessness and mania. What’s more, if hyper creative people fail to regain control of their psychic environment, their racing brains will incline toward insomnia, mania, obsession, compulsion and addiction. The smarter people are, he says, the more likely it is that they will use their brain in negative ways and the more painful pressure they are likely to produce. 

That’s why I never lay in bed, counting holes in the ceiling, for more than a few minutes. Because I don’t want my brain to start attacking itself. I know myself too well to just sit there, wide awake and fully alert, praying for sleep to come. 

It’s poor sleep hygiene, poor time management and poor anxiety maintenance. Plus, I don’t want to train my brain that staying up in bed is okay. 

And so, I introduced a boundary. I now give myself ten minutes. Ten minutes. That’s my brain’s limit. If I haven’t quieted the voices by then, I find alternative means. I take control of my mind before my mind gets in control of me. 

Instead of sitting in bed ruminating about how hard it is to sleep, I get up and use my brain in the service of something meaningful. Instead of staring into the void, petrified by the view, I march out of the bedroom and give my neurons an outlet that might actually make me tired. Instead of magically willing sleep to come, I healthily sedate myself through reading, meditation or journaling. 

In short, I don’t spend time in the brain as if the brain were a destination, but I use my brain in the service of my meaning making mission. 

When your mind has trouble quieting itself, what’s your system for taking charge of your own thoughts?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
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