I used to be a big time worrier. I would worry about everything: big, small or miniscule. From saying the “wrong” thing to the supermarket clerk to getting in trouble for some future mistake I hadn’t even made yet.
Worry consumed my mind most of the time. It was the biggest distraction I used to avoid my feelings and being in the present moment.
It disrupted my thoughts, goals, sleep, and conversations. I was always looking for assurance from others that my worries were not warranted.
It took a lot of practice and concentrated effort for me to beat it.
And it still creeps in like a lost friend sometimes.
Mostly in the middle of the night when all I desperately want is to get back to sleep.
Do you know the feeling?
If you are a client of mine, you know there are different techniques I use to combat worry: from recognizing feelings and needs to direct thought replacement.
The tool that works best for me for the middle of the night mind swirl is a mantra.
I still feel a little weird inside when I hear the word mantra. The image I get in my mind is a combination between a yogi sitting in full concentration (which I am not) and a Saturday night live skit making fun of a self-help guru.
But I put my hesitation aside because it works.
For the last three years that I have been doing this work my sleep has been better than it has been in my entire life.
But last night I found myself in a half sleep state mixed with worry and exhaustion. My body wanted desperately to sleep but my mind was creating all kinds of worry and doomsday scenarios to focus on. I found myself caught in it, but then I remembered the power of mantra.
I took a deep breath and repeated a phrase that was calming and empowering at the same time. I breathed in during the first half and breathed out during the second half.
I did this exactly three times and was back in a deep sleep.
Mantras are powerful. They help you stop the frantic thought wheel and reset your mind as well as calm your body.
They can be used at any time or in any situation: from a meeting at work to a family gathering. The only thing holding you back from trying it is your doubt and has that ever allowed you to sleep?
If the word mantra makes you feel a little resistant then call it something else. We talk babies to sleep with lullabies, so it’s really not that foreign of a concept. Give it your own name and pick phrases that are comforting and will make you feel good.
You can start by recognizing what worrying thoughts are causing the mind swirl and creating new words to turn them around.
I was having health concerns that crept into my head and were keeping me up at night. My mantra became I can create health for myself by giving my body all the rest and peace it needs. Those simple and sweet words worked instantly.
There’s no harm in trying! And I’d love to hear what works for you!
Laura, you are right on with the idea of the mantra! In years past the only way I could still my mind at night was to sing the Star Spangled Banner to myself! But now, I am like you, I replace the thoughts of worry with better thoughts, repeat, and wow….there is peace and life results in better things for me. Great site. Thanks for writing.
The star spangled banner! How funny:) I am glad to hear you’ve been using the mantra and that it works for you! It’s so amazing how such a little thing can create big changes in your life. Love it!
Great post, Laura! I agree with you on the power of mantras, and I use them for myself and my daughters (7 and 5).
My particular method, particularly for money-related issues, is to “deflate” the issue until it has no place to go but away!
For example, my mind might start racing around an out-of-town speaking gig that doesn’t cover travel. I get that wow-am-I-yanking-resources-from-my-family-for-my-own-selfish-pursuits feeling, and I start to rethink my speaking career altogether.
For me, instead of replacing the thought with a positive feeling, I take a deep breath, and I let my thoughts run all the way to the worst-case scenario, total doom-and-gloom element of the issue. I let it flow all up and through my mind, and I watch and listen as it flows.
Almost ALWAYS, the negative feelings start to sound and feel silly–extreme even, and I bring myself back to center, remind myself of my husband’s willingness to support my journey, and I find myself feeling better about my journey.
I love the “deflate” idea, especially as a way to work with money issues! I use something similar with my clients when we are working on money fears. I think it’s important to allow yourself to go to the “doomsday” place because you do start seeing how your thoughts can be flat out crazy! It also allows you to release the stored emotions you have around the issue.
Looking at my negative thoughts works for me in the daytime but when I am trying to sleep the positive thought helps me every time:) I am glad you shared this because not everyone is just like me, so going to the worst case scenario and then laughing about it may put some people right to sleep! Thanks for sharing:)