3 Step Process for Taming Your Monkey Brain and Eliminating Overwhelm

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Post By Jennifer Drean, Deliberate Directions Success Strategist

Jennifer is passionate about helping people grow their businesses. She can assist with leadership development, career advancement, and systems design.

Jennifer continues to successfully run her own family medical practice, Gem State Family Eyecare, which she founded in 2011.

I’ve been hearing a lot of clients over the last few weeks describing for me the overwhelm they feel. Though many of them see an “end” to their overwhelm, I can’t help but reflect on my own vicious cycle of overwhelm experienced a few years ago. What I realized in my journey to defeat overwhelm was that it was a cycle, it never really went away, I just got a short reprieve. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of times when I feel overwhelmed. What I’ve learned through my journey has helped me eliminate the number of months, weeks, days, and, dare I say, hours that I let myself reside in a state of overwhelm. You see, overwhelm is a mindset.

Overwhelm is an emotion we feel. The emotions we feel are created by what we think. The amazing thing about thoughts is that we can control them! Which means we can control our emotion of overwhelm and eliminate it as soon as it pops up.

As we talked about in Nurturing Your Success Superpower, we have three Brains, the Sage, the Robot, and the Monkey. When your thoughts are running wild, making us feel overwhelmed and keeping us from a good night’s sleep, the Monkey Brain is usually the part of our Brain that is running wild. Here are is a simple three step process to tame your Monkey Brain and eliminate overwhelm:

Create Awareness

It’s one thing to feel overwhelmed but stopping the overwhelm is another story. The whole process starts with knowing and believing that your Monkey Brain can be tamed. We do that by taking time daily to become observers of our thoughts through practices like meditation and journaling.

In addition to believing you can control your thoughts, it’s crucial to spend some time identifying the unnecessary distractions that are keeping your attention constantly jumping from one thing to the next and back again. In fact, “we spend around 47% of every waking hour ‘mind wandering’”

But who can blame us for being distracted! In this digital age, we are being hit with a constant barrage of information. Our digital devices are a huge distractor, with constant contact to social media, news and other people. Douglas Rushkoff, in his book Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, describes the term digiphrenia: “how technology lets us be in more than one place – and self – at the same time.”

What are your biggest distractors, watching/streaming/reading the news, social media, taking your phone with you everywhere you go, using multiple devices at a time? Figuring out where you are constantly connected will help you then figure out a plan to cut the cord and free up your mind. Regaining control of your attention starts with knowing who or what currently holds you attention.

Create Structure

As mentioned in Nurturing Your Success Superpower, 95% of the time our Robot Brain is in control. This part of the Brain likes structure and routine as these lead to the greatest chances for survival, it’s only priority. If we can create rituals and routines in our daily life to tame the Monkey Brain, we can harness the power of the Robot Brain and use more of our remaining time committed to deep, focused work on our goals. Creating a Default Calendar is a great way to help you live in a very structured way and create boundaries around our time and our energy.

Create Your Plan

The best way to prevent the distractions that keep you in a state of overwhelm is to cut the cord. Avoiding the temptations is much more effective than trying to resist them. A great example is with our diet. If you don’t buy the cookies and chips they aren’t in your home to tempt you. But if you have them there already try to resist the urge to eat them, we run into decision fatigue and our will power fades around dinner time so we end up splurging in the evenings. Does this sound familiar?

In regards to our distractions, avoiding them altogether will be way more helpful than trying to resist them. Don’t want to use your car in the phone, then don’t have it on or in arms reach. Leave it in the back seat and turn it off so there isn’t even the temptation to touch the phone. Eliminate all your social media apps from your work devices and dedicate only one device for “entertainment”. Delete all the news apps and simply use an RSS feed such as Flipboard to put all that in one spot that doesn’t alert you constantly of the newest happenings. You control when, how, and where you receive your information.

            It’s also important to feed your mind important information. Our thoughts are created by what we put in our minds. If we are feeding it stressful news and social media we will have stressful and anxious thoughts. If we surround ourselves with people who are super negative and always has excuses, we will do the same. Instead, spend your time and energy reading and listening to great information on personal and professional development. Join a mastermind style group like our Whetstone Board of Advisors to surround yourself with other goal oriented, successful people.

That’s it, 3 easy steps to tame your Monkey Brain and eliminate your sense of overwhelm. Remember, overwhelm is an emotion, created by our thoughts and that’s awesome because we can control our thoughts! How empowering does it feel to know you have that control! Don’t stay stuck in a state of overwhelm and if you need help, please set up some time with one of our coaches for a complimentary consultation. Let us help you get unstuck!

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