How To Calm Mental Chatter

I have a problem where I wake up in the morning with too much mental chatter. This can be distressing if it becomes out of control so I am doing one of my coping strategies (writing) to help with the matter

Writing down your thoughts

I find this the most helpful tool because it helps turn my non-physical thoughts into something physical. When it is out of my head and on paper or in document form when typing on the computer it has less power over me. This in my opinion is the single most powerful technique as it is a form of self-therapy and can lead to an understanding of myself similar to that I would get in a therapy setting. How do I do it?

I was exploring different ways to offload my thoughts in a way that would help me to feel better and here are the methods I use. Simply write in any of the following ways;

Dear diary technique

Write to your journal as if it was a close trust worthy friend. 

Anne Frank gave her diary a name to increase the persona and give the sense that a real person was listening. This is helpful as it can make you feel understood and listened to. Something a person with mental chatter probably doesn’t get enough of. 

Ask your journal questions

I often ask my journal questions and then any answers that come to mind I write them down too. It doesn’t have to make sense it just all needs writing down. 

Write down your feelings

What makes the dear diary technique most therapeutic and therapy-like is when you write down your honest feelings. Most of the time I just need to get it off my chest and it makes me feel better. And if you have a painful experience that you want to talk about write about how it makes you feel. Just validate yourself, what you feeling is a normal response and taking this step to write it all down is a positive one to making the changes you seek and feeling better.

Dispose of writing that makes you uncomfortable if (in case someone else reads it)

And if there is something you don’t want to be shared or read (just in case someone reads it) I suggest burning or shredding it. Whatever suits you is the way you will find it most helpful to do it.

A few tips.

Keep it private

As you are sharing your most personal thoughts you want to keep your diary private. I often ask my wife to not read my journal as this will defeat the object of it and will encourage me not to use it. Thankfully she respects my privacy, she’s a good woman.

Use a Journal that suits how you write.

I love using the Asda free writer journals. they are slightly bigger than A5 books without lines as this allows me to flow. But if you find writing on lined paper works for you go for it. we are all different and the one that suits us is the one we should use.

Conversations with god style

An idea I got from reading the book Conversations with god, Neale Donald-Walsh started writing on paper all his anger and stresses towards god, where he then started to hear answers in his head. 

And he just wrote it all down. Eventually turning it into the famous book Conversations with god. I have used this similar method in the past and many believe that the universe or God flows through us and can answer our questions like this on paper. Using this method I have found it quite heartwarming and it helped me to connect with my spiritual side, vent my stressors and often I had fun with it. This is not for everyone but I use it.

Problem Solve Stressors

This may be the most important of all coping strategies. To problem solve your most stressing items on your mind will not only make you feel better but it will improve your life. I will outline the problem-solving method further in this article. You may be thinking that your stressors are not obvious to you, so I always write this question down and then answer it;

What is causing me the most stress right now?

I will then write down everything good or bad whether it makes sense or not. Usually, if something doesn’t make sense at first, it’s just a barrier to something that does which will flow out of you if you keep writing.

keep writing

until you don’t feel like writing any more. This will become very useful to you as one key part of the problem-solving technique is to understand the problem. Once the problem is understood you can start finding solutions that were not available to you because of the mental chatter coming from your thoughts and feelings. Now on to the Problem-solving technique.

Problem Solving 101 

Problem solving has become a part of my daily life and small conscious changes happen every day, Which in the long run will add up to one huge change. So I am asking you to focus on the small things and the most stressful things on your mind and to problem-solve consistently to see big changes down the line in your future. If you feel stuck at any point, then just make the problem easier by moving the goal nearer to you or by problem-solving the obstacle.

The Problem-Solving Method

I read 4 or 5 different books on problem-solving and this method I learned from business trainer Brian Tracy on YouTube put it all together nicely and incorporated all the things that we need to solve our most pressing problems. It’s quick and simple to use.

Step 1. Mindset

You have to think a solution is possible for your mind to come iuup with a solution. A problem is only unsolvable if you think so. If you think it’s important find a solution!

I always start by writing at the top of my page “If I persevere with this problem a solution will present itself to me” 

This puts me in the right frame of mind for solving the problem and leads me on the the next step.

Step 2. Define the problem clearly

Start by writing out the problem in as much detail as you can. Keep writing until you feel like you understand your problem there is no right or wrong so don’t worry it will all make sense soon. Learn to trust the process and write it all down because a solution is close by.

Tips

Write it down even if it doesn’t make sense

If you’re unsure of the problem, just start writing and keep writing until you feel like you understand your problem.

Mind map

Draw a circle in the middle of your page and write down all the things that are stressing you, annoying you causing you anxiety or writing the things on your way down. I then draw lines from each problem back to the circle so it is clearly defined. I then write out a statement of the problem in as much detail as I think I need, to a point where I feel like I understand the problem clearly. then move on to step 3.

Step 3. Find the root causes and identify solutions

Root Causes

Once the problem is clearly defined start writing down all the roots of the problem. These may start to become clear by now and often you’ll already be coming up with solutions. Don’t worry if you only come up with a few or too many root causes, pick the most important and start right away coming up with the solutions for it.

Solutions

The way I come up with solutions is to start a new page and write solutions at the top. I will then write down all the ideas that come to me down until I feel I have enough. Then pick the solution that you can act on. you can always come back to this solutions page later if it doesn’t work out. Don’t worry the right solution is coming at this stage, just persevere.

Step 4. Take complete accountability

At this stage, you have clearly defined your problems and come up with a list of solutions for you to try out. This is amazing, you have gone from problem to solution and this is where the magic happens. You at this point are probably wanting to run away and solve your problem(Amazing if you have already done it!). You have now become accountable for yourself and power to you. Here are some techniques to help you achieve your solutions;

Move the solution closer to you

One problem I have is I get excited that I’m going to solve a pressing issue and then keep moving the goal posts further away and then never actually getting that feeling of accomplishment. Instead, I am going to ask you to do the opposite. Bring the goal closer to you, if you were going to do 10 of something do 2 at first then 4,6 and so on. With each step to your goal, you will feel a sense of achievement and it will spur you on to achieving the 10. If you only achieve 4 or 6 you will still feel proud of yourself. I’m permitting you now to be proud of yourself so please feel it!

SMART

Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timed. What you measure you control and when you set yourself a deadline you are most likely to do it. change your deadline to one that makes you want to do it more.

Set a SMART goal now to help keep you on track to reaching your solution.

GTD – Getting Things Done Method

If you ever come to my office you will likely see all my thoughts dotted around on the walls on post-its. This comes from the organise and engage method of GTD. The way I use this method is I write everything down that I need to do, called Capture. I then cross out anything irrelevant and transfer the relevant stuff to post it, called clarify. I then put everything on the wall and order it into action order, called organise. Then I will take the post-its and put them into the Kanban method where I then make all the actionable items done.

The Kanban Method

The Kanban method is a simple but effective method for getting a to-do list done! On a blank page or a whiteboard (which is what I use) divide the page into three by drawing to vertical lines. In the left column write “To do” at the top. In the middle column write “doing” and in the right-hand column right “Done”. Now take your post-its and put them in the to-do column. Pick the one you want to do first and move it to the doing column. Do the task and then move it to done. 

Simple as that. 

But effective!

Step 5. Start solving your problem today! 

Do something today that gives you a sense of achievement. The more likely that you are to start today means that you are more likely to achieve your goal and stick with the new change you want to make.

Yours the Muddler!

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