How to Stop Racing Thoughts

zenstones2If you’re like me, you go through periods of gut-wrenching but baseless worry. Your mind spins with thoughts of everything that could go wrong in your life, and you can’t seem to make it stop. Or you’re suddenly gripped with terrible premonitions of something awful happening to you or your loved ones. You can’t shut down the swirling vortex of stress, and you wonder what’s wrong with you that you can’t just – calm – down.

One night when I was trying to get to sleep, my mind was whirling with thoughts of something terrible happening to my toddler son. I tried to calm myself, but no go. I even tried one of my favorite meditation podcasts. No dice.

Then, out of the blue, I said to myself, “Worrying about things that will probably never happen…typical human.”

Suddenly, my mind calmed down. There was something about acknowledging that everyone goes through this, and that it’s a normal (if not pleasant) part of the human condition, that stopped the thoughts in their tracks.

Now I use this phrase all the time, typically with a little chuckle:

  • My thoughts are flying so fast that I can’t even keep track, much less slow them down: “Typical human.” (Is there anyone this does not happen to, Zen masters excluded?)
  • My husband is twenty minutes late and I have visions of a terrible car wreck: “Typical human.” (I’ve heard the same story from everyone I know.)
  • I just got back from a party and am deluged with fears that no one liked me: “Typical human.” (Everyone worries that other people don’t like them!)

It’s like magic. Seriously. Try it yourself and post your experiences in the Comments below! I look forward to hearing how it worked for you.