We’re all trying to achieve great things. With a troubled mind, this can be significantly more difficult. Imagine if you could ‒ at will ‒ calm your mind. You’ll be able to think clearly, not let your emotions get involved, and finally get ahead in life by doing things that are more rewarding. Here are the top 5 ways neuroscientists say you can clear a troubled mind.
Mindfulness is basically thinking about thinking. This is done by getting your thoughts and feelings out in the open, rather than letting them stew inside your mind. This is something I like to do personally as well. When my first girlfriend broke up with me, I practiced mindfulness and found myself being at peace. I imagined myself standing in the corner of the room looking at the “real me” standing in the middle of the room feeling sorry for myself.
What happened next was amazing: I could gently feel the negative feelings of losing the love of my life (at the time) ebbing away. I could climb out of the hole I had dug for myself and move on. Psychology Today has a great article about this for you to read into more detail.
Meditation is another approach you can use to calm a troubled mind. While there are several approaches to meditation, it’s all about consciously observing your thoughts and letting them drift by. Meditation isn’t so much about clearing your mind, more so standing by the side of the river of your thoughts and watching them make them way downstream.
You don’t have to cross your legs and hum, all you need to do is being comfortable, sit still, and focus on your breathing.
This is what a lot of people do naturally. When your mind is full of thoughts, bad ones start bubbling their way up. It’s not a pleasant feeling. Through sheer willpower, you cram them back into a box where they can’t annoy you. In line with Substitution, which I’ll talk about in a moment, suppression is a way of consciously ignoring something so that the thought doesn’t cause you any more problems.
Note that this doesn’t always work. Just like a glass, it can overfill and cause more harm than good. Each person is different and this strategy may work better for you if you have greater control of your emotions.
Daydreamers, this technique is for you. Substitution is about replacing unwanted thoughts with nicer ones. Substitution allows you to replace bad feelings with good by creating a brand new memory. This memory may exist for a short time, or it could be an elaborate fabrication that you choose to believe. Whatever the case, the idea behind substitution is that it will make you happier.
This can be taken to the extreme. Some people construct entire lives in their minds and get so detached with reality that they forget what’s real and what’s not. This technique is only good if you have a strong imagination.
This is the last technique. Like substitution, distraction is a way that people can forget about the thoughts that are causing them grief. Distraction relies on outside stimuli to draw their attention away from what’s happening inside their mind. The great thing about this is that you can outsource this to something or someone you trust.
You might have a friend who you can talk to, who reminds you that the world is still OK. You might play in a sports club that draws your attention away from yourself and instead forces you to put selfish thoughts aside so you can contribute to a greater cause. Whatever the case, distractions are another great way to clear a troubled mind.
So, what method do you prefer the most?