|Do you have some days when you can concentrate on a task and get the job done in good time, and then other days when a nagging thought or feeling keeps tugging you away from your concentration, and doing the job becomes a long, drawn-out ordeal?When you’re faced with something new, do you allow your feelings of self-doubt or fear to interfere with preparing yourself to tackle the job? If you’ve had a misunderstanding or disagreement with a co-worker or your spouse, do you proceed to run through the scenario over and over, allowing it to monopolize your time, energy and focus?
I can think of many times when I’ve allowed my disappointment, hurt, anger, or confusion to become the temporary directors of my life. And it ruined a perfectly good day.
The trouble is, when you let unrelated thoughts and feelings intrude on your efforts to accomplish something that is important for your life, you stop your progress, you build resentment, and you compound the problem.
To remedy the situation, you need to find a way to stand up to the distracting intruders in your mind.
HERE’S HOW TO GET STARTED
1. Acknowledge Your Mental Intruder. You have no control over something if you ignore it.Just like an intruder into your home, you want to know that the intruding thought or feeling has entered your mind. In effect you are saying to your intruder, “I know you’re there!”
2. Assess Your Mental Intruder. Does your intruder bear a friendly warning that you need to stop what you’re doing to take care of something that is more important to you for your life? Or does it point to something that you need to pay attention to sometime soon? Or is it something that you can dismiss right away as unimportant?
3. Address Your Mental Intruder. You can do this in three ways:
- If your intruder alerts you to a more important value being at risk, you must stop what you’re doing to protect what’s more important. This way, you can take care of your more important value, and then return to your chosen work intruder-free.
- If your intruder alerts you to an issue that warrants your attention, but not immediately, promise yourself to address that issue at a specific time later on. Mark an actual time on your calendar, and make a note, if necessary. This way you can release your mind from your intruder and go back to your chosen work.
- If your intruder alerts you to a feeling of self-doubt or fear, you can reassure yourself that this is a natural but insignificant reaction when you face a challenge and does not warrant any further attention. This way, you can summon your courage, release your mind from your intruder, and get on with your chosen work.
By now you can see that there are two kinds of Mental Intruders:
1. Helpful Intruders that warn you that something you value may be at risk. These friendly intruders help you monitor your progress toward the things you want in life. Whether it’s a relationship or a career move, you schedule a time to think about what went wrong and how to right it.
2. Harmful Intruders that distract you away from your values. Destructive intruders – such as unfounded feelings of self-doubt, worry and fear – detract from your progress toward what you want in life. By seeing them for what they are, and scheduling a time to investigate the ones you don’t understand, you don’t let them interfere with your work or take over your life.
With this kind of perspective you no longer have to surrender the reigns to your Mental Intruders. By taking a quick moment to acknowledge and assess your Mental Intruders, you can always keep your eye on the things that are most important to you for your life. And you can assign the appropriate time to address the things that are bothering you.
From here on out, you no longer have to be “whipped around” by your Mental Intruders. You can treat your Mental Intruders as bearers of information – and treat YOURSELF as the one who decides whether or not that information is worthy of your attention or action. This way, you can control what happens when your Intruders enter the scene, and you can delight in your new power of being in charge of YOU.