Episode 45


The Nature of Thoughts

Have you ever just wanted to flick a switch to turn off your mind because those incessant thoughts are keeping you awake?

In this episode I discuss the nature of our thoughts and how to relate to them in a way that facilitates getting to sleep soundly and without interference.

Thoughts are tricky little things. They are the engine of ideas and communication and nearly every wonderful thing about what makes us human. But thoughts can also get in the way - from jealous anger, to paralyzing self-doubt, to delusions of paranoia. And more often than you think - because you are absolutely not alone in this - thinking will get in the way of sleeping.

It does not require anxious or racing thoughts for an active mind to interfere with getting some shut eye. Spontaneous thoughts, especially automatic negative thoughts, can not only make you feel out of control of your own mind, but being over-aroused makes transitioning to sleep nearly impossible.

In fact, this is one of the most common issues I hear from patients - either “Why can’t I turn off my mind?” or “I want to get to sleep but can’t because my mind won’t let me!”

That’s why I’ve addressed the issue in nearly two dozen episodes so far. And there are multiple ways to navigate this problem skillfully to achieve both peace of mind, and ultimately a decent night of sleep. From de-arousing habits, environmental and behavioral management, activities like massage, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, breath work, and directed focus practices like gratitude, compassion, writing lists, or a written brain dump

And these approaches help to deflate this notion of thought as king; that not all thoughts are true just because you thought them. And more importantly, that you are not your thoughts. That by taking a step back and observing the observer, it is clear that you have a mind, but that you are not your mind. You have thoughts, but you are not your thoughts. And you are not defined by your worst thought or your best thought.

And learning to defuse from your thoughts, to have a more flexible acceptance and ultimately more self-compassionate approach to your thoughts will not only turn down the volume of mental chatter, but help you get that good snooze you deserve.


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