Do you know this state of mind when something happens that you dislike. And then your mind goes off ranting about the situation and moves into explaining mode:
‘Of course, he’s always late. ’
‘Why does it always have to be me who…’
‘If only everyone on the team would be a little more […..]’
… and on and on and on.
A trigger activates your self-talk autopilot, who tells you why things are a certain way.
This is very tempting, as Ralf Dobelli explains in The Art of Thinking Clearly:
The confirmation bias is the mother of all misconceptions. It is the tendency to interpret new information so that it becomes compatible with our existing theories, beliefs and convictions. In other words, we filter our any new information that contradicts our existing views (‘disconfirming evidence’).
My observation is this: it doesn’t matter if what you’re telling yourself is true or not. (And it might well be that you’re right.) There’s a more important question you should be asking yourself:
Does it help or serve your purpose?
If not, it’s not a working strategy.
Plus: you’re wasting a ton of energy in getting stuck even more by solidifying this pattern or belief by repeating your thought spiral.
Your brain needs a lot of energy. It’s the organ that needs the most energy of all: it ‘accounts for up to 20 percent of the body’s total haul.’
Explaining the situation is a special kind of self-talk
It would be crazy to say this was my favorite kind of self-talk. But if I’d have to state what kind of self-talk I know best, this is probably it. This unconscious practice is an energy-consuming way that cements your world view. I know this is what it did to mine. It also bogged me down, made me heavy in my body. And it didn’t allow me to experience life in new ways.
I assume that most of us are spending a lot more time on unnecessary and unhelpful self-talk than on real thinking. The kind of thinking where we’re open to the outcome, when we make creative connections and are fully open to our surroundings and have fresh thoughts about life and the situation we’re in or the problem we’re trying to solve.
Even if you’re right with your explanations (who cares about that, right?!), if it doesn’t help, stop. Maybe your mental ego has to take a minor it. (Possibly? Likely?) But letting go of it can release tons of energy and allow for new things to happen and new ideas to occur.
So, what can you do instead of explaining?
I recommend to reconnect body and mind by pay attention to
- your breathing
- a physical sensation you have in hat moment
- a body area that draws your attention (can be a tension you notice)
And agree to what is in the moment. As is.
Let your thoughts be (if they are stubborn and keep reappearing) and don’t pursue them.
Agree to the mood you’re in, the atmosphere you notice, the emotion you’re feeling.
Agree to your physical experience from head to toe.
Ready to practice? I sure am – headspace welcome!
If you want to share about your way of explaining away or how to get out of it, you can do so in the comment box below.
If you’d like guidance in this process or learn some of my tools for stopping self-talk and reconnecting body and mind, you can make use of this voucher to get a 60-minute session at a special rate in the month of May.