What makes entrepreneurs worth their weight in gold is their ability to think things through fairly quickly and be decisive. But what happens when a mental health challenge exists?
You may find that thinking things through can be taxing. There are some mental health challenges that allow you to have thousands of thoughts racing through your mind and filter the important ones. But then there are also times when thousands of thoughts can short circuit even the most savvy and rational professional. This often makes it look like the person is disorganized, frazzled, unfocused, forgetful, and possessed of other characteristics often associated with an absent-minded professor.
What's interesting is that many people will dismiss these times of distraction as a quirky entrepreneur characteristic, but it can become costly as mistakes are made and time is wasted moving from one project to the other in hopes of locking into something.
You know you are having abnormal racing thoughts when you find yourself unable to focus on one topic during a conversation. You jump from subject to subject, never truly completing a thought. You'll find yourself lost in conversation as growing impatient when listeners cannot keep up. If you find that you are unable to stop your racing thoughts and settle your mind, here are few things you can do. in addition to taking your meds.
Stop seeing your condition as productive.
Recognize that your thoughts are racing and that it's not normal or healthy. You need to accept that racing thoughts are not a badge of honor and take steps to slow down your thinking, just as someone who is hyperventilating needs to slow down his or her breathing. Many entrepreneurs believe that their success is derived from being able to multitask in their mind; however, racing thoughts are different than having a variety of thoughts. Having racing thoughts is having too many thoughts to make intelligent decisions, carry on a coherent discussion, or see that your mind is actually spinning out of control.
According to About Health, racing thoughts are not just "thinking fast." They are thoughts that just won't be quiet; they can be in the background of other thoughts or take over a person's consciousness; they can gallop around in the sufferer's head like a carousel gone out of control. I don't want to say it, but racing thoughts are a symptom of bipolar disorder, which takes the form of manic, hypomanic, or mixed episodes. I personally experience racing thoughts, and I can tell you that it is a very unsettling state of mind. Initially, I'm applauded for being able to take questions under rapid fire, but soon thereafter eyebrows raise when my responses become less logical, bordering on bizarre. Sleep becomes impossible, and soon after delirium can set in. So stop believing that this condition catapults you to a higher level of success, and instaed practice mindfulness, which helps me.
Practice mindfulness and not a mind full of mess.
Start to pay attention not only to your thoughts but to everything around you as well. According to The Greater Good, mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. This is probably one of the most useful techniques in slowing down your thoughts.
The Greater Good goes on to state that mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them--without believing, for instance, that there's a "right" or "wrong" way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we're sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future. When you stop to be in the present there is power in your thoughts.
Unfortunately, racing minds sometimes think of the past, over which you have no power. I'm not saying that thinking about what has happened to learn from mistakes isn't valid, but when you are suffering (and, it is a matter of suffering) from racing thoughts, you can get lost in the past. Practice mindfulness by paying attention to your surroundings, what is being said to you, and how you feel about what is being said, and it will bring you into the present.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask questions about your mental wellness.