Photo courtesy of Scott Anderson
I’ve come to realize that a little daydreaming is ok, but that it can be all too easy to get lost in your thoughts, leading to distraction and a less mindful way of living. Allowing your inner thoughts and dialogue to take a major detour will derail your focus, making you much less productive at work and more stressed in life.
There are some common “thought traps” that are easy to fall into, and they can leave you ruminating rather than really living. When these thoughts pop into your head, let them pass through without stopping.
1. Woulda, coulda, shoulda: If you’re constantly preoccupied with thoughts of things you wish you’d done differently, you’re essentially beating a dead horse with an old stick. Let thoughts of the past move right on by, and every time they pop back in for a visit, think about something positive that came of the choices you did make.
2. Fantastic fortune and magic carpet rides: Passive fantasies about the life you really want will get you nowhere. Get those thoughts onto paper, and into action!
3. Worries. Dwelling excessively on an anxiety-provoking topic ultimately won’t make one bit of difference in the outcome of any situation. Worrying is something everyone does, though, so it’s a natural and normal feeling. Just don’t let it control your life.
4. The Oops. I used to literally punish myself anytime I’d made an embarrassing mistake at work by replaying the event over and over again in my mind. What’s done is done, and the only thing to do is to learn from your mistake and do better next time.
5. How you’re measuring up. In other words, you’re preoccupied with what other people think of you. The only person you should be measuring yourself against is, well, yourself.
6. Why me? This is a huge thought trap for many people. It’s essentially a Pity Party for One. Stop asking “Why me?” and ask “Why not?”
7. The missing piece. Are you spending precious time focused on what you don’t have? We’ve all met that person who constantly bemoans all of the things she hates about her life. This type of person usually displays extreme jealousy when others experience good fortune, too. What a waste of energy and lost minutes that could be spent enjoying the present moment for what it is.
8. Your limits. Most people are convinced that they have invisible limits that no one else can see or sense. Staying within your preconceived limits allows you to feel safe, but it also hinders how much success you can attain. Limits only exist in the mind. In reality, you can accomplish anything.