I have lots of them…broken records that is. I am pretty sure you do too. You know, those things that play over and over in our minds and torment us…deprive us of our peace and serenity of mind. Yep, I have lots of them. On any given day those broken records are playing tunes like “What were you thinking when you did that?”, “You can’t possibly think you are going to accomplish that!”, “Is that the best you’ve got?”, “You are afraid of everything!”, “Seriously, do you have a brain?”, and my all time favorite, “Why can’t you just be like everyone else?”. Perhaps you have heard of some of these?
Interestingly, there aren’t all that many different songs being played in my head, but there are many versions of the handful that do exist. And they can start playing over and over in my mind without so much as the slightest warning…and once they start it is quite hard to make them stop. Telling myself that everyone has those broken records playing in their heads, is only so comforting.
So how do you get them to cease and desist? There are lots of books and resources out there that can offer tips and tools galore – everything from meditation to positive self-talk and journaling, but for me it has always been a 3 part process that seems to work best:
- First and foremost, I have to notice those broken records are playing in my head. I know that sounds silly…you would think I would notice them right away…but the truth is I have become so accustom to them being there on a regular basis that I sometimes don’t even realize they have starting playing again…they have become the background noise of my life. But when I do finally notice they are playing I am well on my way to getting them to stop because I can address them.
- Next, I have a little conversation with myself…and those broken records. We (my broken records, my mind, and I) talk about why those songs are not valid and/or do not serve me. I recognize them for what they are – my ego trying to force me via fear, guilt, or some other such negative emotion to stop pushing myself to be better…to no longer try to dream and live big…to doubt my ability to be a good and productive human being. I know in my heart and soul that those things aren’t true and they are not doing anything to serve me on my journey. Sometimes, I just have to remind myself of that on my own, but in a particularly difficult case I may reach out to a trusted friend or colleague to help me bridge that gap of uncertainty. Either way, those conversations serve to help me get a handle on the thoughts going through my mind.
- And finally, I focus on a more positive thought. In other words, I change the music channel. I give myself a new song to play in my head. Something a bit more up beat like “I can do anything I put my mind to”, “I am only human”, or “I work hard to make good choices and to help others”…you get the idea.
So basically I have found it helpful to see it, release it and then change it. Make no mistake, this is a never ending process…or so it seems to me. You don’t usually follow those steps and never have a broken record play in your head again…it just doesn’t work that way. You may manage to remove one song from your broken record playlist forever, but there will always be plenty of others. The best advice I can offer is to be patient and compassionate with yourself…and remember you aren’t alone in the phenomenon of broken records playing in your head. Just don’t let the old broken records rule your life or your thinking about yourself. You have the power to choose the music playing in your head…so choose a beautiful song each day that lifts you up, motivates you, and helps you be the person you are meant to be.