Dear Maria,
How can I make myself think before I speak or act? Whenever I disagree with someone, which happens a lot these days, I say or do something I later wish I hadn’t. I end up internally fuming over what I wish I’d said.
If Only


Dear If Only,

This is a great question. I can relate. I’ll probably publish this response, and later I’ll think of a few more things to say. On a blog post, there’s a handy update feature. In conversations, not so much. Improv is the final performance. We can’t reel back in something we wish we hadn’t said. And, it seems we can’t stop our minds from grinding on the regrets.

Lately I’ve had some success in getting out of a mental rut. I’ve discovered my thought processes can change, with time and conscious effort. We need to attend to the part of us that says, “So, I said to myself….” That’s the part of our consciousness that is the Observer. Let the Observer recognize when you’re having a thought that you don’t want to have. But, don’t beat up on yourself when you do! Just acknowledge the thought, then choose another. Over time, you’ll see a change.

Recently, there was a difficult person in my life who found their way into my thoughts. Truth is, I let that person into my head, and it was up to me to release them. One day while journaling (yet again) about this person, I stopped writing and imagined a beautiful sunset on the beach. My thought about this person bobbed in the water, and a sea gull came along and scooped the thought up and flew away with it. This beach scene became my go-to image when the Observer stepped in. You might call it my happy place! The gull carried the thoughts, and this person, out of my awareness. No amount of fretting over this person would have changed the situation; it was time to release them, and myself, from the rut.

When the Observer calls, turn your thoughts to ones of gratitude, beauty, and love. Above all, be easy on yourself when you over-think things. A lot of us are in the habit! Your desire to change it is an important start to making the change. I’m not sure we ever get completely over it, but we can move past it more quickly with that conscious effort. We CAN choose better things to focus on.