Tracy Winchell

Use this 20-minute exercise to identify stinking thinking

published10 months ago
1 min read

Hello Reader,

In each of the first 2 installments of this series, we asked you to reflect on two slightly different versions of the same question:

What is your monkey mind saying to you?

What is your monkey mind DOING to you?

Categories to consider:

  • Body
  • Mental health
  • Relationships
  • Ability to focus
  • Reasoning skills

Potentially serious consequences

The term "Monkey Mind" is a broad, whimsical term for a bundle of anxiety-inducing thoughts, including:

  • Negative self-talk
  • Overthinking
  • Perfectionism
  • Procrastination

Our monkey minds are a breeding ground for anxiety that can wreck your mental and emotional health, physical health, productivity, and even relationships.

Serious impacts

  • Increased heart rate
  • Irregular breathing
  • Self-doubt
  • Lack of focus

How to identify & root out stinking thinking

This set of questions is adapted from a 3-part system introduced in Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution to Overthinking, (Jon Acuff).

Part 1: Name 3 negative thoughts that impact your life or career

  1. Select one item (the one that seems particularly prickly) and ask:
  2. Why do I believe this is true?
  3. Reflecting on "why you believe this is true," make a list of 3 to 5 things you can do to test this negative thought.

One idea to get you started on Question 3 | Part 1:
Talk this over with a trusted friend, family member, a mental health pro, or someone else who will be kind and direct with their response.

Part 2 Use your response to the previous question: Seek to provide evidence that what you're telling yourself is:

  1. True?
  2. Only in your mind?
  3. A little bit of both?

Part 3: Based on the evidence you found, write down what you now know is accurate from your Part 2 example.

BONUS: Brainstorm 2 or 3 ideas for reminding me what is true.

Keep this process handy so you can test any self-talk that concerns you.

One more thing: An update on my spin-out I described in last week's newsletter

During our video visit last week, my family physician asked me about "resting heart rate trends" from my FitBit app.

We discovered that over the past few weeks, my heart rate had steadily climbed, reaching a level that triggered anxiety.

She switched some meds that are now bringing down my heart rate, now beating normally.

Take-away from my experience:

  1. Don't count on your journal to solve everything.
  2. Do stay in touch regularly with your family physician.
  3. Maintain a relationship with a mental health provider.
  4. If anxiety levels start to impact your day-to-day life, please do consider making an appointment with a mental health professional, either online or near where you live.

Next week, we share two of my favorite prompts for setting reasonable expectations for the upcoming day.

See you then!