Chances are pretty good that you’ve experienced that little voice in your head, telling you it’s time to stop procrastinating and get down to business. It’s not exactly one that spurs creativity and gets you enthusiastically, diving into the task in front of you. Actually, research point to that what happens is quite the opposite. Evoking all sorts of unhelpful states and feelings such as challenging the ego, leading to a childish stubbornness against one's own best interest, or feelings of stress, making it even harder to know where to begin and in worst cases even anxiety. All of which leads to absolutely nothing more than feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
The thing is; our brain is not used to being focused on just one thing anymore. We multi-task our ways through the day, most of the time on autopilot. Solving problem after problem in a highly inefficient way. Social media and our online activity play a big part in that, exhausting our dopamine levels. Making focus something hard.
But you can take control of the situation.
1. Fact: Your thoughts and feelings do not define you. They are simply thoughts and feelings and you know what? You are the boss of them. Take some deep breaths, listen to them, as you would to a friend, and determine if they are helpful or not. If not? It’s perfectly fine to tell them to back off and s**t up. Or at least tell them "thank you, but no thank you".
2. Check your “why”. Are you aware of why you do the things you do? Sometimes a quick visit to the desired outcome or even the feeling is the push we need to get going. For instance, telling yourself how good it will feel after you did something and “taste” that feeling can be enough.
3. Set intentions. When your “why” is clear it can be helpful to do this simple practice that works a little bit like a reset button. Just walk yourself through the upcoming task, visualize how you will do it.
4. Don’t judge yourself. You are “only” human, not some machine. Life is not a linear story. We have days when we are more productive and days when we simply aren’t. Check-in on that feeling. The stronger you nurture your intuition the easier number 1 will be to master in the future.
It might take some practice...
Maybe listening to your thoughts and feelings, questioning and reflecting are new to you? Also, your dopamine levels might be very low, so focusing is difficult for biochemical reasons.
Try taking 3-4 minutes a day to just sit and do nothing. Basically have a little date with yourself, listen to your thoughts, and practice letting them pass without judging or giving them value. If that is hard it can help to focus on your breathing and when the mind wanders, simply redirect it on the breathing (in through your nose and out through your mouth). It will support you in the future when similar situations happen.
We are all mindful by nature, but it’s a lot of stuff going on around us. These simple steps will help you become more aware and take back control over your life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Louise is a mindfulness mentor on a mission to make mindfulness more accessible and simple. For her it's not only a human ability but also a need and the place we all need to learn how to connect with if we want to make this planet a better place for everything living now and in the future.