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The other day, I stopped and actually got annoyed with the constant jabbering in my head. You know her. The voice. At times, I can think of quite a few choice words for her.
And it’s not just that she goes on and on about stuff. Repeating the same discussion ten times over. Regurgitating the same conversation ad infinitum. It’s that most of the jabbering is so useless. It’s about nothing. She has an opinion about what people are wearing, whether the colors match, whether it’s appropriate to the weather (really, girl, have you nothing better to do?) about people’s tone of voice, blah, blah, blah.
Yes, I get to the point I annoy myself.
It’s a good thing nobody else is living in my head, because they’d want to move out for sure.
The good thing is, I can catch myself and put a halt to it. And that’s what I want to share with you today. Many of us suffer the annoying little voice and wish she’d shut up.
You may have noticed, the direct approach rarely works. “Shut up” doesn’t cut it. If anything, our frustration makes her talk more. I even think our annoyance makes her make less sense than usual too.
So, I want to introduce you to the mantra I use in these cases and that has greatly helped me.
Judgement calls are necessary, let’s get that straight. You need to know whether you can trust someone. You need to decide whether this thing is worth buying. Also, you need to know whether the advice you are given suits your personality. Our brains are very good at forming opinions about things.
But apart from the question whether our brain is actually right with the opinion it’s currently holding, there’s a second issue. Every judgement call, every opinion formed costs energy. It takes up processing power to form an opinion. By definition, there are emotions attached to opinions. And, opinions call for attention. An opinion, your own opinion, can’t really be ignored.
This means that having an opinion all the time costs us an awful lot of energy. Energy, I’m sure, we’ve got better things to do with.
How this helps you be more mindful mom
This creates space and balance because using a mantra to stop the flow of opinions will put a halt to the habit of forming opinions about everything. In turn, we’ll stop wasting energy on pointless, irrelevant things. It’s a tactic that shuts the voice inside your head up, even if it is only temporary.
Longterm vs Shorterm
Longterm, if you want to gain control over your thoughts and find more calm in your head, it appears that practicing mindfulness is the way to go. But this is challenging. Very rewarding, but challenging nonetheless. Where do we find the time to practice mindfulness meditation? Besides finding the time, the reward of meditating daily takes a while. You won’t reap the benefits after only a week of practice.
So, we need something that will pull us through in the meantime.
This mantra works well for me
Whenever I find my thoughts randomly forming opinions about stuff, wasting my energy and good mood, I tell myself the following:
“I don’t need to have an opinion about this.”
This is not a direct silencing of the voice, which we know doesn’t work. It’s also not getting yourself into a discussion, or into a lot of upheaval of emotion about it. It is a very calm shrugging of the shoulders, where basically you say, I don’t need this. Basically, it’s a step away from the emotional involvement, of the investment you make when you form an opinion. In short, it’s a way to let go of the opinion your subconscious formed and a step towards becoming a more mindful mom every time you do it.
Saying, I don’t need to have an opinion about this, basically has you say that even if the opinion is a correct one (doubtful) you don’t care about it. You say, so what, and let the opinion slide off you.
Practice makes a mindful mom
I don’t like to say that practice makes perfect.
And that coming from a perfectionist!
The thing is, perfection is unattainable, so saying that practice makes perfect is setting yourself up for failure. And I definitely don’t want to do that!
But good practice of the right things will make you grow and become a more mindful mom!
So here are the steps to becoming a more mindful mom by freeing yourself of useless opinions:
- Sit down for a moment and think of situations where your mind goes of chattering a lot. Is it while commuting? After picking up the kids at daycare? Is it when you’re alone at home? Make a list of these situations.
- Then, take a practical look at your list. Are these situations at certain times? If yes, add a reminder to your phone: “I don’t need to have an opinion about everything” for around that time.
- Are these situations tied to certain places? If so, leave yourself a note. For instance, if your opinions start bubbling up most when you make lunch, stick a note on top of the peanut butter.
- When you find yourself in such a situation, leave your phone or your note out there for you to see. And for a couple of minutes, say 10 to 15, leave your phone or note in your view as a reminder. Every time you find your mind discussing irrelevant things (those shoes were terrible with that dress…) say to yourself, “I don’t need to have an opinion about this.”
As the days go on, you will find that very quickly the tide of nonsense opinions will slow down. You will gain some measure of control over your chattering voice. Gradually, you will have fewer opinions about things. Your attention will less likely to wander off to things that really aren’t that interesting or important, and you’ll gradually become a more mindful mom.
In time, actually in a relatively short time of just a few days, you’ll find that your mind is more at peace, with less chattering. You’ll feel more at peace, and you’ll have more attention and energy left for other things.
On a final note: you’re never done
Remember that practice is about…well…practice. It’s about the journey, not about the destination. In fact, there’s no real destination to go to. That may sound a bit vague in our society, but practicing anything, whether a mantra, full-blown meditation or even patience (something I keep advising my son, hihi) is about the experience of it.
So, never being done is a good thing. As we experience we grow, it’s a beautiful thing.
Find a piece of paper and a pen, sit down. When is your mind chattering too much? When could you be a more mindful mom?