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Quieting the noise in my head

I’ve been very aware for many years that my brain does not stop. It goes and goes and goes and sometimes that’s great, and other times it is a battle. Its exhausting and I am learning I have to be willing to do a lot of work to take care of myself. When I say noise in my head, I mean more specifically all the self defeating, negative feelings I have in my head. The “I’m not good enough” and “What is wrong with me”, “Everybody hates me and wants me away from them”. All less feelings tend to amplify in times of darkness and isolation. Less meaning worthless, hopeless, helpless, etc.

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling flooded with negative emotions often. Is this a minute to minute, life long process? I have found yoga helps, for that period of time throughout my day when I am practicing, my head receives some relief. Any other exercise, music, writing, reading, 12 step meetings. Connecting with others although I don’t always want to be around others. I spent a lot of years trying to numb out the trauma, the memories, the self hatred, THE NOISE! Those “coping skills”, attempts to numb myself were killing me no longer serve me anymore. Positive, solution mode only. How do we get rid of the noise just enough to keep moving forward each day? How do others not give into the noise?

5 Replies to “Quieting the noise in my head”

  1. Dan says:

    I had similar issues that have caused a lot of problems for me. No amount of therapy, medication, or peer support could help, but Zen meditation has it in recession. I still have uncomfortable or harmful thoughts, but the only time they bother me is when I’m very tired, or extremely stressed. They haven’t been an everyday thing since I made Zen meditation a habit.

    Zen meditation doesn’t appear to be different from other meditation, but it’s not just about being calm and mindful. The idea is that our thoughts aren’t us, and we should let them all pass so we can just be here. The endgame is not the a head with no thoughts. The goal is to see thoughts as not important and no longer give them attention. Of course, deliberate thoughts like creative and technical thinking do not fall into this category, it’s more about the involuntary thoughts. I go to the weekly Wellspring Zen Sangha in West Hartford when I feel it would help. It’s free but people usually donate a few dollars. There’s a “teacher” who leads meditation and gives me instruction, and guidance when I ask. A guide has been absolutely necessary for me. When you change the way you think, things can get pretty weird and you need someone experienced to explain what’s happening so you don’t get thrown off.

    Zen Buddhism isn’t a religion in the traditional sense so you don’t worry about being pressured to believe anything. They don’t want you to accept what they say if it doesn’t make sense to you.

    It takes a month or two of sitting and breathing until you see any improvement, but it does happen. For a long time the motivation doesn’t come from the activity itself, so you need to have a strong reason for sitting. The group meditation can be dispiriting and counterproductive to a starter because they last about an hour, when 5 minutes is initially a struggle. I started from home with the time I could do, and worked my way up when I was ready. If you can’t get yourself to meditate regularly at home, consider returning to it when you can. The meditation is free, and you can do it alone or with people, at any time or anyplace. It’s without a doubt the best way I have to deal with thoughts and life in general.

  2. nathanieljblack7 says:

    I struggle with this immensely. Negative self-talk is truly debilitating.

    I once tried an exercise that really helped for a while. The goal was to compliment myself/give myself credit every little thing I did right. For example, “Look at you, Nate. You got out of bed on time”, “You’re taking a shower. You go with your good hygiene”, “Making dinner? Remember how you didn’t have the energy to cook yesterday? But look at you now. Progress, Dude. You’re making progress.” It sounds absolutely ridiculous but it really works. The only issue is as someone with severe depression I’ve found it can be really exhausting to be that positive about every little thing all of the time.

    Dan, after reading your comment I feel like I should look into Zen meditation. It sounds like t can be really beneficial. I’ve been needing to incorporate meditation back into my daily routine. I found it so relaxing back when I did it.

  3. Courtney says:

    Thank you to both of you! My thoughts are still often immediately negative, especially when it comes to myself. I have to constantly challenge my thoughts and not allow them to amplify where they affect my behaviors, my relationships and my daily living. I will definitely check out Zen meditation too. Yoga helps me a great deal, especially when I do it at home. Just the commitment itself to giving my mind and my body that time is important to taking care of myself. Also at a program I was in one of the clinicians challenged me to write down all positive thoughts and moments throughout my day. It started off with silly things like “I had pancakes for breakfast. I love pancakes.” to “I feel good today.” Day one there was about 6 or 7 and by day two or three there was at least 50 or 60 thoughts and moments so in general, I couldn’t argue and say my day was completely horrible, because it wasn’t. I’m going to start doing that exercise again, it helped a lot and it became something I also looked forward to.

  4. Jamie0715 says:

    I listen to relaxation music to stop thinking so hard of something I did or want to do. its usually when I hear things when I’m doing something I’m not supposed to I think is just your conscious telling you that what your doing is wrong or that you could of handle something a little better.

  5. Kevin A. says:

    You are not alone Courtney. I have been struggling with this very experience for a while. Its frightening because sometimes I believe that its only a phase but it never stops.
    Its really difficult to produce positive thoughts when you are dealing with a lot and trying to make everything work the right way.
    What I understand is that through treatment there will be setbacks, and you really have to muscle-up to face them (not easy).

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