Get Out of My Head! Dealing with Nasty Assumptions

get-out-of-my-headI’m happily typing away. My thoughts are materializing before my very eyes. Electric brain synapses fire rapidly in my head and my fingers fly across the keyboard translating thought into word. It’s a small miracle forcing the abstract into the tangible. The thoughts flow freely until…

Dead stop. The Man enters my space. Like a startled rabbit my brain freezes, sniffing the air. He comes closer, the intoxicating smell of a spicy blend of herbal tea wafts over me. Awwww! He brought me a gift! My heart swells with love but my brain is still frozen in irrational suspicion. His warm healing hands reach out to melt the knots squeezing my neck and shoulders. Tension releases and muscles soften. My heart and body recognize My Love. My brain though…she’s a totally different matter. She lives in a totally different reality.

Crazy Rabbit Brain

The man’s eyes settle on what I’m writing, effectively squelching the flow of easy words from brain to paper…and Crazy Rabbit Brain comes to life. “You’ve probably made a mistake!” “He’ll think what you’re writing is stupid!” “It is stupid!” “You’re stupid!” “This is all stupid!”

Just that fast, with an act of apparent good will, coherent, clean thought is replaced by panicked, scattered, critical, hurtful words. Where does that come from? It’s never come from him. Criticizing me is not his style.

Yet, there is it, an entire negative dialogue has been created and nothing has even been offered…except steeped tea and a warm touch.

Do you have an internal crazy rabbit brain?  You know an irrational, jump-to-conclusions, panic over nothing part of your brain that comes to life when you least expect it.  It’s a critical, judgmental beast, suspicious of the kindest actions and relentless in it’s pursuit of threats – real or imagined…usually imagined.

Why do we do that? How does that happen? Silence can be the reality but our Crazy Rabbit Brain makes up an entire nasty dialogue that we assume the other person is thinking. As if there isn’t enough critical voices in the world, we add our own negative internal voice to the cacophony.

Where Does it Come From?

Where does it come from? It’s popular to blame our parents but I know that’s not where my came from. Mine were too busy feeding a huge pack of kids to notice, let alone take the time to criticize, creative output. What they did take the time to teach me was that spiritually we have an enemy who is also called “the accuser.” (Rev. 12:10) whose intent is to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

That’s believable because in a simple act of love and caring by The Man, all the thoughts making their way onto paper have been stolen, my train of thought is killed and my peace is destroyed by that nasty inner voice.

Does this happen in your brain? You know, when you’re minding your own business and someone looks at you and you immediately assume you know what they’re thinking. You realize you don’t really know, right? You are aware can’t actually read minds right?

And Even More Craziness…

But it gets worse. Not only do we project our thoughts into the other person, assuming we know what they are thinking, we then…and this is complete craziness…we then treat them like the thought was real! We adjust the way we treat and talk and respond to the other person as if the thought that we made up is actually something they said!

For instance, The Man walks in with a cup of tea and a touch on the shoulder and instead of pausing and taking a break and accepting the moment for what it is, I instead look at him with apology. I know I’ve made mistakes. I know what I write is useless. I know I’m wasting my time. This is all stupid. Then Crazy Rabbit Brain flips and in the next moment she sets up a defense. How dare he criticize what I’m doing? I was planning on correcting those mistakes. I’d like to see him do any better. Everyone knows your write and then your edit.  Jerk! And my shoulders tighten and although a word hasn’t passed between us, I’ve created an entire nasty internal dialogue. What in the world am I doing? Where in the world did all that come from?

Admit it.  You Do It Too!

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. I talked to someone just this week who, when she’s slowed her life down and started noticing what was going in her head, was shocked by the judgment, critical thoughts and negative internal dialogue aimed at her own capable, beautiful self.  She would never treat anyone else in her world like that, but treating herself ignorantly had become an ingrained habit.

Pay attention. She hit on an extremely important key – you have to slow down and start to pay attention to what is going on in my head. Shut down the noise of the world long enough to listen to the thoughts that, left unattended, are like an unsupervised toddler. How often do you assume you are a psychic and can accurately predict what others are thinking? How often do you then alter your behaviour based on those crazy assumptions?

Tips to Help Crazy Rabbit Brain

Where it comes from and why it is there is the work of therapists and counsellors.  If these thoughts are seriously affecting your life, I suggest you make an appointment with a professional to deal with those questions.  As a coach, my focus is toward the future and strategies you can employ to minimize the drama.  If the thoughts are debilitating, please see a counsellor/therapist. If they are just annoying, here are some tips to help tame that ‘Crazy Rabbit Brain.’

1. Notice your thoughts. The first major key in quieting your Crazy Rabbit Brain is to starting to pay attention to what is going on up there. When we stay crazy busy and fill our worlds with noise and distraction, we don’t have time to pay attention to our own thoughts and they run wild. Unattended they turn feral – running wild and scared. Taming your feral thoughts takes time and space. Shut off the noise. Put down the phone. Create space to pay attention This step alone is huge. Really huge.

2. Stop assuming. Don’t assume every thought that pops up into your brain is truth. Chances are they’re not – at least not all of them. Just because it’s alive up there in your head doesn’t meant it’s real.

3. Interrogate those thoughts. “Take every thought captive.” Ask yourself – Do you know this for a fact? Does everyone agree with this? Really? Can it be proven in a court of law? You are not a bomb squad where you have to assume every random package that shows up is a threat and needs to be blown up.

4. Neutralize the threat. If you have to project thoughts into someone’s head, why not project nice or at the least, neutral thoughts. Perhaps they actually aren’t judging you. Chances are they’re probably busy projecting what you’re thinking about them! If you’re going to let your brain make up stuff, let it at least be nice stuff or if it’s too wild to accept nice, go for neutral. “Oh look, he’s reading what I wrote” instead of “Oh look, he’s reading the crap I wrote”

5. Shift gears. Give your brain something good to work on – it likes to be busy. When you notice your brain is going wild, slow it down and give it something positive to work on.

  • Scan your environment for something beautiful to focus on.
  • List what your grateful for.
  • Memorize something worthwhile.

6.  Go Rogue.  Do something Crazy Rabbit Brain won’t expect at all. Notice the other person and focus on something positive about them.  This is the definitive strategy that tames the craziness and sets you on a different course.  Try it, the result is pure peace.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Written by an aging Israeli, in a jail cell, facing an uncertain future.

Do you have further suggestions to help calm your crazy rabbit brain?

What is the most common thing you assume others are saying?

I’d love to hear from you!

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