In this week’s episode, I want to talk about a technique I discovered that helps with rumination. You know- when something is bothering you and then you can’t stop thinking about it. Or when someone really pisses you off and you can’t stop thinking about how angry you are, what you should have said, etc.
I learned this technique in one of the mindfulness meditations I practice, but I use it all the time during my day- I think that’s why you practice it in meditation!
It’s easiest to learn the technique using meditation before applying it to your life, but you can do it however you like. To start, put 5 minutes on your timer. Sit somewhere and start counting your breaths. It’s guaranteed that all sorts of thoughts will start flooding in. When they do, label the type of thought.
If “what am I having for dinner?” pops up- label it Planning
If “Did remember to turn off the stove?” label it Worry
If “I need to schedule my next haircut” Label it Planning
“My nose itches” Label it Discomfort
“This is so boring, Sonya is crazy” label it boredom.
“I really suck at this: Label it Judging.
If it’s too much to try to pick a label and you get indecisive, you can simply label the thought as “useful” or “not useful.”
I’ve found this helpful because it helps you release the thought pattern. And if it starts up again, label it and release it. The experience that provoked me to make labeling the topic of this week’s Crush It Monday was my race last weekend. On the second day (it was a 2 day race), someone took me out. I was going for a pass (on double track) calling out “on your left” so he knew what side I was passing him. Instead of acting normal, holding his line on the double track and maintaining his pace, he decided he didn’t want me to pass. He accelerated hard as I went to pass, came over to the left side trying to block me. It worked, I crashed really hard. My seatpost got tweaked and I went down so hard I had a big hematoma on my foream, my entire outer quad, knee bleeding, elbow bleeding, road rash on my bike and this was in a decisive moment of the race (there was a girl on my wheel and we were battling for 2nd & 3rd in the stage). Not only was I injured, but I had to take my multi-tool out and fix my bike. I was full of rage. When I got going again, all I could think was about the audacity of this guy and my mind was whirring faster than my heart rate. While you can use anger to fuel you, I don’t like to be angry. So I used this technique. Each time I started flying off the handle, I’d say “anger.” Anger. Anger. Anger. It was easier to not continue the story in my head when I just labeled the emotion. I had to continue to use that technique for several hours after the race each time it came up. Anger. Anger.
I use it in other situations too, but this was the most intense example I could think of as of recent. I also use this technique to help me fall asleep. When the lights go out and my mind starts thinking, planning, judging, worrying, hoping… I just label the thoughts and it helps calm my mind. I challenge you to give this technique a try this week. I’d love to hear how it worked for you! The hardest part is being aware when you are getting lost in thought and being non-judgemental about it. But practice makes it easier AND more applicable in intense moments!
I like this article about labeling.