Sometimes the mind just goes round and round.
The mind’s looping is a result of its natural problem-solving ability. This is not a bad thing unless it gets imbalanced. Give the mind a problem and it will gnaw on it continually until the problem is solved, or until some bigger problem comes along.
But even if a bigger problem comes along, the mind never really lets go of the first bone it was chewing on. As soon as it gets a spare minute, it goes back to gnawing on the first problem.
Like this, problems get stacked one on top of the next. The result is a somewhat constant state of stress. Never feeling like you’re all caught up. Never able to truly relax.
One is to get things done.
The other is to let things go.
Both are very valid approaches to more peace of mind. And personally, I use both every day.
Many years ago, I read the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. And it very insightful. Then, I worked with Mike Salomon for a couple of years with his methods for working efficiently “in the storm.”
Through these resources, I came to understand that the mind’s constant looping comes from all the partially completed tasks in the brain’s to-do box. With so many different areas calling for attention, it’s hard to deal with any of them effectively.
And because they are all being held in the mind, the mind has to keep reviewing them all the time, almost subconsciously trying to get them done. The experience is looping and stress.
One solution is to create a system where you can dump all those actions and projects regularly onto paper, or into a computer app so that the brain doesn’t have to keep holding them. Then you can organize them and just focus on doing the next step for each project that makes the priority cut. I’ve had good success with this kind of system.
Equally as important as getting things done is letting things go. The mind comes up with tons of great ideas all the time. But there is only so much time to get them done.
One way to deal with this issue is by prioritizing. By choosing certain projects over others, there is a kind of letting go that naturally happens. I figure, “At least I’m getting the important things done. I can live with other stuff not getting done.”
Basically, any time I deal with stuff that is impossible to do. For example, when my mom died, my top priority on my mental “to-do list” was to bring her back to life. That’s why I obsessively replayed the accident over and over in my mind in hopes of somehow preventing it.
Bringing her back to life was not possible. But my mind wanted it so badly that it kept putting it back on my mental to-do list. And so the mind kept looping.
It’s called acceptance. And at first, it seems very difficult to find. However, I have experienced the spontaneous growth of acceptance in me repeatedly when I do The Work of Byron Katie.
Instead of trying to get it done, I question the very idea that I need it at all. For example, when I was mourning my mom’s death, I questioned, “I need to understand it.” And I found that the turnaround, “I don’t need to understand it,” was much truer, and very liberating. Suddenly, that impossible task was taken off of my mental to-do list. And my load was lightened immediately.
As long as I believe that I need, or even want, what I currently am unable to have, I feel stressed. And as soon as I question those beliefs, I feel free again.
The Work is a helpful tool for letting go when there’s nothing you can do to get things done.
If you want help learning how to let things go (without forcing), learn The Work of Byron Katie with me by joining my unique online community for learning and practicing The Work.