The other morning I was driving to school and was suddenly jolted into a panic. I didn’t recognize the scenery around me. Had I missed my exit? Did I take a wrong turn somewhere? A few minutes later, I recognized where I was going. I hadn’t gone off my route at all — I had simply “spaced out”, like I do almost every time I drive to school. I didn’t recognize the scenery around me because I never paid attention to it.
Like many people who become caught up in their thoughts instead of “being in the moment”, I often let my busy mind distract me from the task at hand. It’s not that my mind goes blank, though. Most people assume that when I say I’m “spacing out”, what’s really happening is that I’m just letting my mind sleep while I’m awake. That’s not true. I space out because I constantly allow my mind to slip away into thoughts that consume my consciousness for the time being.
Aside from this habit hurting my productivity, I realize a similar impulse of mine also harms my relationships in life. My mind can be both my best friend and my greatest enemy. Lately, it has been the latter. I’m not sure if this is just a natural tendency for women, or if I have deeper issues to blame, but my mind often decides to deceive me. I frequently find myself doubting and second-guessing people’s intentions. For example, my boyfriend has chosen an extremely demanding career path: medical school. He is often too busy to call or text as often as I’d like throughout the day, and instead of accepting that he really has no ulterior motives, I let my active mind run away with all the horrible possibilities it can think of. I assume he just doesn’t care about me, or that he has better things to do, or that he just doesn’t think of me as much as I think of him. These insecurities start out small, but once my mind gets going with these thoughts, things get out of hand rather quickly. Small insecurities become big problems, which lead to hurtful fights.
So how do you cope if you find yourself in this situation? Here are 3 simple steps to try: