Ever feel completely lost in thought? Almost like you’re addicted to something that’s on your mind? I mean I feel that way a lot. We are humans, after all, and we have thousands upon thousands of thoughts per day. The exact number isn’t really clear but Kahneman (Nobel Prize winner) says we have 600k “psychological presents” per month (20k per day). That is a lot of thoughts.
And because our nervous systems are so plastic, the more we think the more we tend to think. We tell ourselves a story about ourselves, our bodies, the world, and how it all should be. And then we repeat it. And repeat it.
We are using thought to regulate us instead of awareness.
But we can’t think our way out of a physical “problem”. The autobiographical self (story we tell ourselves) and the embodied self (our experience in the present moment) are separate neural networks. You must, at some point, be in your body.
This is scary for a lot of people. Particularly those in pain or who have been stuck reacting to external stimuli for so long (traffic, your boss, your spouse, your iPhone, blog posts like this one) that they are internally ignorant.
How to Be Less of an Interoceptive Dummy:
1) Let go of your conceptual ideas about your situation.
So your back hurts. Is thinking about it some more and all the ways it’s “messed up” really going to make it go away? If anything, continuing to think about it in this manner will make you focus on it more.
2) Quit trying so hard.
When you worry about meeting some movement ideal, some expectation (“I gotta hurry up and move right so my pain goes away”) all we get is more stress and more muscle tension.
Give yourself some loose boundaries when it comes to movement – what felt “right” before obviously isn’t working for you, so try something different. But most importantly just move.
3) Establish links.
Isn’t it interesting that when you take a breath in and hold it’s harder to move as smoothly compared to when you breathe out and move? Seriously, try rotating your back when you’ve taken a big breath in vs out. Hmm. Or what happens with your abs when you move your head? Most people have no clue.
But if you can establish a connection between parts of your body, you get out of your own head and stop treating your body like a meat locker.
"The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master."
(Lots of people with philosophic-sounding names have been credited with this quote)
P.S. Want to know more about pain, what it tells us, and how to reduce it? I will be doing a live 90 minute webinar Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 8pm EDT so mark your calendars. More information to come.