- in Succeed
Extended free time can be a blessing and a curse. When you have lots of free time--I don't just mean a week or two of vacation--the creepy crawlies start crawling up out of the basement of your brain. That is, some of the unresolved emotional issues from the course of your life start bubbling up to your awareness. You keep thinking of people or situations or regrets from your past and experience an ambient tension. Frankly, the endless mental loops can be harrowing if you don't know how to deal with them.
There are really two ways to address these creepy crawlies that start to peek out of your psyche. You can flush them out, or you can keep yourself so busy that your mind is distracted and keeps the creatures at bay. For most people, the busy route is the path they take if for no other reason than that their lives are insanely busy all the time; they just keep on rolling and pretend the basement doesn't exist.
A Simple Approach to Tame the Creatures....
The creepy crawly dynamic is not a bad thing so long as you have a technique for addressing the challenge. Beyond keeping busy, I have a simple suggestion.
Every time a negative thought keeps recurring--whether it's thoughts of resentment against someone or something that happened, regret, worry, fear, embarrassment, avoidance, etc--just jot the thought down on a list. Then systematically write a separate journal entry on each item.
The journaling doesn't have to be a masterpiece or take you forever. Each entry could take even no more than 10 or 15 minutes to write and process. Just look at the issue that keeps bubbling up. It's asking for your attention for some reason. Acknowledge your feelings, express the thoughts, and then make a conscious choice to let it go. You can make a clear choice to CUT away from that negative mental cycle. I suggest that you write towards the bottom of the journal entry that you are letting this go and stopping the cycle--it's a clear, incisive break and letting the matter go.
If you keep doing this again and again with each issue that continues to bother you, sooner or later those creepy crawlies become tamed or they find a way out of the basement and leave your life forever.
Try it. You might come out the other side a much healthier, happier, freer, more joyful, less conflicted person.
(The approach outlined in this post was inspired by David Allen's book Getting Things Done.)