Ever wondered, “Why can’t I clear my mind?” Why can’t I get all the noise upstairs to just disappear? Learn the answer to this age-old question. Plus, learn what you can do about it!
One of the most common questions I get when talking about anxiety, stress, and just life in general, is “Why can’t I clear my mind?” Why can’t I get all the anxiety and chatter in my brain to just go away? I bet you’ve wondered this very thing.
We humans spend a ton of time in our heads, thinking about what happened yesterday, what’s coming up later this afternoon, and what we didn’t get done today. We replay interactions with our boss, with our partner, and with the cashier at the grocery store, dissecting even the tiniest of things. Your brain loves to worry, analyze, daydream, dwell, and fixate.
But sometimes it’s just all too much. The constant brain chatter takes a toll. It contributes to stress and anxiety, discontentment and unhappiness. And even when you know your brain is being illogical, you still can’t shut it off.
So that burning question, “Why can’t I clear my mind?” Here’s the answer. And it’s actually really simple.
You can’t clear your mind, because you’re a human. You’re a human, with a brain. And the brain is an organ that’s designed to generate thought. That’s its job. Just like the stomach digests and the heart beats, the brain thinks. That’s what it’s designed to do. So asking your brain to turn off and clear out? Not gonna happen.
So if you can’t clear your mind, then what? The magic, the secret, and the goal isn’t about clearing your mind. (That’s impossible, remember?) The goal is to get better at focusing your attention on the here and now, redirecting your attention to the present moment. When your mind wanders, bring it back. When your anxiety flairs up, refocus your attention. And when your thoughts start to spiral, notice them spiraling and bring them back to what’s happening right now.
Thankfully, this is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is about training your brain, not clearing it. Is mindfulness complicated? No, not at all. It’s literally just about focusing your attention on the present moment. But is mindfulness hard? Yes. Because you’re a human, and your brain loves to wander. So it takes a fair amount of effort and training to redirect it.
Clearing your mind would be awesome. But so far, it’s impossible. So let’s let go of that goal, and replace it with a healthier and more realistic one. Focus your attention, redirect your thoughts, and remind yourself that you have more say over the chatter in your head that you think.
PS: Ready to start training your brain to be more present in the here and now? Check out 10 Ways to Practice Mindfulness in a Minute or Less!