Stuck in your head . . .

I had an interesting call with a client recently, she had it in her head that she had been ‘wronged’ by a woman who was part of her group of friends. As we all might, she approached the woman and asked her about the situation. Apparently, the other woman didn’t see an issue and kind of dismissed the conversation. My client, feeling very dissatisfied and still to some degree, seeking validation for her feelings then began one by one seeking out other friends in the group to get their opinions. Unfortunately, she still didn’t get the answers she was looking for. At this point, she could have stopped and asked herself a few questions:

-Is there really a problem here
-Am I making more of the situation than is necessary
-What is going on for the other person that may/may not have lead to me feeling this way
-What is going on for me that I have been so ‘hooked’

After talking this through on our call she decided that she was going to just drop the whole thing, which I too thought might be the best course of action. However, a little later in the call she mentioned two other people she planned to to talk to about this. I wondered, if she was dropping the whole thing and moving on wasn’t her continuing to talk to people about it just perpetuating the situation, keeping it alive? Of course, I pointed this out to her. She was actually a little taken aback when I asked those questions. She was so stuck in her quest to be validated that she couldn’t even see how she was keeping the situation going by the on-going questioning. She felt a tremendous amount of relief when she realized that she could actually end it, that she didn’t have to speak to anyone else about it, that she could let it go.

That’s the thing about being stuck in our own head - it keeps us just that ‘stuck’. That’s why its so useful to seek feedback from someone who is completely outside of and uninvolved with the situation you are struggling with. Our friends in their love and support of us will often take our sides in order to show their support and friendship. What we often need is someone to help us see a clear picture, someone not involved - not someone who necessarily agrees with us. It also helps to take a step back, move away from the situation - give it a little time without your focus so that when you do get back to it you might have a different perspective.

Here are a few other ideas for getting out of your ‘head’:

  • Be mindful of the story you’re telling yourself. We all do it, we validate our feelings by running a narrative that supports our feelings. Notice when you are replaying that story - and change it to support a more positive outcome. Short circuit the story - it is your story - you can decide on the ending.

  • Meditation is a powerful way to change the patterns running through our head. Even 10 minutes of sitting quietly can change the way you feel and subsequently your thoughts about a situation.

  • Change your focus to someone or something other than yourself and the situation at hand. Along that same vein, if possible, change your location - even if for a short time. Go outside and talk a short walk, head to a coffee shop - the idea is to change your environment so you can change your mindset.

  • Finally, as mentioned above try to talk to someone new, maybe someone you don’t know very well who might provide you with a different perspective.

You can do it!

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“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.” 
― Pema Chodron