(This is Part 5 of The Coach in Your Head series. Read Part 4 here.)
“Thinking without externalization leads to obsession!” That’s what a mean counselor said to me once, with a raised voice. (And if you think I don’t mean mean, you’re wrong.)
Listen to the Coach
I don’t exactly remember the issue, but he was challenging me in some way. I could have been diverting or trying to move on from the subject, and I said, “I’ll think about that”. Then he leaned forward, raised his decibel level, extended his arm and pointed his finger at me. “That’s all you ever do: think! Thinking without externalization leads to obsession!” Then he sat back and waited for me to talk.
You have a coach in your head who can help you externalize, so you’d better pay attention. If not, you might find yourself caught in a swirl of thinking. The thoughts go around and around, never escaping, and sometimes that leads us to personal peril. So the message is that you need to get out of your mind. You need to externalize. You need to get your thoughts out there somewhere, somehow.
How? There are time-tested ways to externalize, and there are some unique ways that you’ll discover that particularly work for you. Some ways can include:
- Journaling. Lots of people journal, although it’s never been my strong suit. I have a friend who fills up journal after journal, and she destroys them as soon as they’re filled. Thoughts of her own that she just wants to get out of her head, never really wanting others to see or hear them. Give it a shot. It could help. There’s some evidence that writing for just a few minutes at night before bed helps with a better night’s sleep.
- Talking. Especially true for extroverts. Make sure you have conversations, meaningful and meaningless. If you’re isolated, put yourself in public places where you’re required to talk to others. If I get stuck in my head I might go to a coffee shop or a library to work, just to get unstuck.
- Conversation. This is talking, but with an intent to share your inward thoughts, with a trusted ally. You need someone you can safely externalize with.
- Have a soundtrack on. Again, especially true for extroverts. Putting music or the radio or television on in the background can play a role keeping you healthy. It’s the first thing I do in the morning, and it’s a key part of unleashing me.
- Go for a short (or long) walk. Don’t take my word for it. Experts have called walking, “a wonder drug, except that you don’t need a prescription and you don’t have to pay for it.”
There you have it. I’m serious about this. The coach in your head can alert you to being stuck and can help you externalize. Make it a habit to get out of your mind.
So think about that. But not for long.