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Lovefirst's avatar

How can I control my mind?

Asked by Lovefirst (116points) July 8th, 2014 from iPhone

Hi all,

I’m the type of person who always thinks too far and end up hurting myself. Can anyone suggest ways to be more in control of my mind and keep focus on the present moment. My head always in the past, tripping or daydreaming. Help!

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18 Answers

hominid's avatar

Check out vipassana/insight/mindfulness mediation. There are plenty of great resources online.

JLeslie's avatar

Keep yourself busy and pursue things you are interested in. Work, a hobby, volunteering, anything that needs your focus.

marinelife's avatar

You can’t change the past or control the future. The present is the only place to live.

When you catch yourself dreaming, stop and take note of your surroundings. Check out flowers, trees, animals, birds. Enjoy the moment. The sun on your face, the breeze.

Keep checking in with where you are and what you’re doing.

thorninmud's avatar

If you set out to “control your mind”, you’ve already set yourself up for failure. You’ve framed it as “me vs. my mind”, which is an unhealthy paradigm.

A more fruitful approach is to abandon the “control” notion altogether, and put your effort into being aware of what your mind is up to at any given moment. In other words, you’re not trying to dictate to your mind what it ought to be doing; you’re simply bringing attention to what it is doing, If you’re thinking about the past, be aware that you’re thinking about the past, and maintain that awareness while you’re thinking about the past. No need to berate yourself for this. Same goes for daydreaming and projecting into the future.

There’s nothing actually wrong with any of those mental activities. They’re actually the activity of your mind at that moment, and by bringing awareness to them you are in the moment. They become problematic only when allowed to operate in the absence of attention.

hominid's avatar

GA, @thorninmud!

I’m not sure where I heard this metaphor before, but I find it helpful…

Imagine that you’re sitting on the side of a river in the sun. You feel the warmth of the sun, hear the birds, and are very settled where you are. You may notice boats as they pass by on the river. You may notice things about the boats – how they travel, whether they are traveling aggressively, which direction they are going, etc.

Suddenly, however, you find that you are on the boat. You don’t know how long you have been on the boat, and you don’t recall ever intentionally climbing aboard. So you jump ashore and revisit where you were. But you find that you perpetually find yourself up or downriver on one of those boats, rather than simply watching it and observing it as it passes.

In my experience, meditation allows me to notice more quickly when I have boarded one of the boats. It may even allow me a quick glimpse at myself as I climb up into the boat. And as @thorninmud notes, there is nothing wrong with these boats – but it’s nice to know when I’m on one. I spent years riding the boats up and down the river while under the impression that I was still sitting on the shore.

Lovefirst's avatar

Thank you all, what you guys have said is helpful. When you think too much it can become problematic. I feel as theres the real me, and then there’s other voices in my head _ can decipher one from another..

JLeslie's avatar

Do you mean you hear voices? Or, you can’t stop thinking about things you would rather not dwell on?

LostInParadise's avatar

Here is a technique that I have used in the past to good effect.
@thorninmud ‘s basic premise is correct. Don’t fight yourself. If there is something that you keep thinking about, it must be important. Get yourself a journal and write your thoughts down. What I found was that writing something down gives it a kind of finality. No need to rethink these thoughts. One word of caution. You may find re-reading what you wrote down to be a bit embarrassing. That was what I found. All these thoughts which seemed so important at the time were pretty much drivel, but they served their purpose and the very fact that I could later dismiss them was proof that I had moved beyond them.

gailcalled's avatar

I too use mindfulness meditation, described in its elegant detail by @thorninmud. The diaphragmatic breathing attached to it is very important and gives you something to focus on, that is, when your mind doesn’t wander off that also. When it does, you bring it back to the breathing. When inhaling, the belly expands as though there were a balloon in it. On the outbreath, the belly deflates…just the opposite of our automatic daily shallow breathing.

On the exhalation, you can think of letting go of things…as a mini-mantra.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Find something to do. Sounds like you have too much time on your hands.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
rory's avatar

You’ve got a type of mind that’s a blessing and a curse. I am similar, I fin it really hard to stay in the moment. I’m always going on a mental tangent about something. I like to repeat to myself where I am and what I’m doing sometimes. Sometimes listing the objects in the room to myself helps, describing my surroundings. Another useful exercise is listing every object that you can see that is red. Grounding exercises to bring you back to the present.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Keep a journal. Set a time for reading it and adding to it. This way, you can visit past occurrances in an orderly fashion, rather than feeling you must give up your thoughts of them entirely. You can do more than simply chronicle events. Choose a poem, painting, or political dbate, muse on paper all your thoughts, however loosely related. If you allow yourself 30, 40, 60 minutes daily, whatever fits you best, you will find that over time you will grow accustomed to saving such activity for the alloted time. You will have these events still in your life, but no longer crowding other aspects of your life.
Who knows, it could lead to a great career as a critic. Tee hee.

LornaLove's avatar

You have some great answers here, I too, overthink and catastrophise things. In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, one technique is to list the statements the mind makes and then to consider them as true or untrue. You can even write them down. True or untrue as based on past experience. (Often such thoughts have a general theme or repeat themselves).

Esedess's avatar

As you sit here happy you think about all the things you could be and what you’d do, but you sit. On that, the end will come and find you sitting here looking scared and you will wonder where your life went only to fear the memory of all that could have been.

The gift of thought is not something that needs to be exercised at all times. You have other skills… There are a myriad of ways to exist in this world and none of them rely solely on a set guideline of thought. If you want to experience everything, sometimes you have to stop, and stop hard. Think how you know, and ponder the questions of your day, but never linger. They will remain while you are slowly drained of your life.

Did some automatic writing a little while ago and that’s a piece of it… A little cryptic but it seemed relevant to your question. I think too much as well. But when I’m able to catch myself in that incessant back and forth, those last 2 sentences especially have helped as reason/reminder to let go.

Lovefirst's avatar

Yes like 2 people discussing kinda @JLeslie

Esedess's avatar

This happens to me all the time. I do different things to reconcile the madness. One way is to just go with it. Throw your notions of insanity out the window and pace around your house in the dead of night. Have the conversations pent up in your head aloud and you might find you actually enjoy it. If you feel too strange talking to yourself aloud as yourself and your subconscious then take it to a keyboard. Don’t try to format or anything. Type what it says. Type your response. Type what it says. Type your response. If it cuts you off halfway through a sentence, allow or deny it, just as you would in a conversation. At the very least, I think it will be an interesting experience for you. At most, you may find the chatter is actually more coherent than you thought, and entirely worth while.
You want to stop this thing, but you don’t even know how to work it. What makes you think you’ll find the off switch if you don’t examine and understand its facets to begin with?
Learn to play with the experience and have fun with it. See what it can do. What it’s good for, where it’s nonsense, and why. That will introduce you to some minor control over the matter at least. From there it’s just like anything else. Practice.. And when I say “practice” don’t take it all literal and go sit down study-bound to dominate it. Think of “practice” as you would practicing a sport. Just play it. Have fun with it. In time you get better with it. No one can get inside your head except you, so unfortunately, ultimately, you’re on your own. Make the most of it.

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