“I’m just so busy!” seems to be the mantra of our times.
Declared with pride, yet often tinged with guilt and overwhelm, it is our collective plea for understanding, offered as an apology.
Our brains are wired to seek and solve problems. A healthy ego helps us feel safe and secure. But what happens when our egos operate out of fear, and our brains find so many problems to solve that we can never complete our to-do lists? We end up with cluttered brains and that’s no fun, not to mention unproductive.
So how do we declutter our brains? Let’s look at our assumptions around “I’m busy.” There are four common fears that everyone experiences:
- Fear of rejection, which makes us seek validation
- Fear of losing power and control which drives us to need to feel safe and strong
- Fear that “I’m not enough,” which makes us need to prove ourselves
- Fear of lack, which makes us always need more
If we are looking for validation by being busy we want to feel important and valued. If we are feeling overwhelmed, we are asking for proof that we are enough. If we are shutting people out of our lives by always being too busy, then we are trying to exert our power and control. And, if we can never sit still without discomfort, then we are afraid we are lacking or missing out on something.
Here are some basic habits that will get that crazy brain feeling like a place you can call home:
1) How do you feel when you say, “I’m busy?” What do you need? Take a breath. Let out a big sigh as you acknowledge your needs. If you feel comfortable, let the person you’re talking to know what you are needing. If you don’t, then acknowledge it privately. Write about it in your journal later, or speak to someone with whom you feel you can share honestly. If you don’t exactly know what you need, that’s okay. It can feel weird to acknowledge ourselves in this way sometimes. Just take a breath and let that be enough.
2) Take note of the things that run through your mind consistently. If they are “to-do” items, put them on a list and tell yourself that they are safely on your list. They don’t have to occupy space in your head. Just make a habit of checking your lists!
3) If they are worries, create a Leave It Box. Write each worry down on a slip of paper and leave it in a box that you have designated. Each time the worry comes back to mind, take a breath and remember that it is safely in your Leave It Box. Reaffirm that you trust it will work out for the best. Relinquish your need to control the uncontrollable.
4) If they are problems to be “fixed,” ask yourself if they must be fixed by you. If so, know that you’re capable of seeking out whatever help is needed and get it handled. Then let it go, knowing that it is being taken care of. Relinquish your need to save the world.
5) If they are just random thoughts, laugh at the brain’s need for stimulation and remember to not take life too seriously.
6) Add a moment of acceptance and self-compassion. I have two favorite phrases:
- I am enough
- Right now it’s like this
7) Know that you are not bad for having a busy brain. Brains think. It’s just what they do.
Our goal is not to “stop thinking.” Rather, it is to observe our thoughts so that we can choose our response rather than getting lost in the clutter.
Robin Lehman is a Mindful Health Coach who enjoys hanging out with her partner, son and two cats in Northwest Arkansas, while supporting clients all over the world in remembering themselves. She is passionate about keeping it real with simple, healthy, everyday choices for body, mind and soul. She teaches mindfulness and healthy eating to kids and adults and thinks that listening to silence is just as important as making a statement. When she is not working, she can be found trading knock knock jokes with her son. Her online home is at www.robinlehmancoach.com.
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