When you find yourself no longer paying attention to a specific task or being entertained by the expanse of the internet or television (which I realize in this day n’ age is fairly rare), where does your mind wander?
Sometimes it can be hard to really discern where my mood is at, so I find it interesting, at times, to allow myself a moment or two to see where my mind wanders on its own, because in my experience wherever it heads first will usually be a pretty good road sign for what my mood is doing.
Where is my subconscious steering things?
Does it make a beeline to the past?
- (Am I feeling guilty, nostalgic, pessimistic about the future, hopeful about the future, sad?)
Or does my mind wander to the future?
- (Am I feeling anxious, excited, hopeful, overwhelmed?)
Am I returning to an amusing joke or anecdote from earlier?
- (Am I feeling relaxed? Amused? Optimistic?)
Are my thoughts returning to a song that keeps repeating itself?
- (Am I having other obsessive or compulsive tendencies? Does the song have a certain emotional meaning to me?)
There are probably an infinite number of possibilities, but taking a look at a thought and considering what it means to me is usually the easiest way to figure it out.
The only thing that can be difficult about this concept is being able to step away from whatever I’m thinking at the time I’m thinking it (or even right after is fine). When I am feeling particularly overwhelmed by whatever the thoughts are, that can be hard to do, so it has helped me to practice at times where I don’t find myself feeling overwhelmed by emotion in any real direction. Sometimes I’ll suddenly just ask myself, “what are you thinking right now?” and the answers have been pretty astounding… I think we do a lot of thinking that we aren’t necessarily aware of while we’re doing it.
Likewise, I think my dreams can give me a similar sort of insight to how I am doing emotionally. I hardly ever have violent dreams or straight up nightmares when I am feeling ultra-pleasant, and last weeks dreams were stressful -pretty much a mirror to the amount of stress I was experiencing at work (needless to say, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed).
I don’t normally subscribe to the idea that everything in my dreams represent something else, I just focus more on the emotions I am feeling in my dream (or the emotions I have right after waking up from them). Chances are, if I am having a dream that makes me feel anxious, I am also feeling anxious in my everyday life, I just may not have realized to what extent the anxiety was effecting me!
I’ve been trying to consider different ways to tap into those sort of subconscious road signs and make something of a mental map of how those areas work for me. So far it has been interesting, and I’ll keep you updated as I learn more.