Monday, October 22, 2012

Triage Your Thoughts

One of our methods for organizing our thoughts and actions is by using self-talk. This is the internal dialog we  carry on with ourselves where we talk in our own head about what we are doing, what we are thinking, what we are about to do, what we should be doing, what we have done in the past, etc. This is actually a very useful tool but can become an endless stream of chatter that actually causes stress and anxiety and can eventually just plain wear us out.

When the solution to this issue came to me, I compared it to a medical term called Triage. If you have ever had to wait in an emergency room you have undoubtedly experienced this practice: it is the prioritization of patients based on the severity of their condition. It's common sense--it is why someone having a heart attack is admitted before someone with a cut finger and someone with a foot injury may be admitted after someone with a head injury. Sometimes, however, these can be difficult decisions to make, in fact everyone has at least some level of self interest that makes them hope to be first. Our thoughts do the same thing, often ruthlessly vying for the center spot in our mind. This can create a jumble of inner self talk as each spontaneous thought gives its own chatter.

The solution? TRIAGE. Cut some of those thoughts out. Make some take a back seat to the higher priorities--and if a thought isn't the current priority make it be quiet until it is. Honestly, every thought that enters your mind doesn't deserve a say-so. Think about this--if hospitals didn't triage, someone could die from a heart attack while a doctor bandages someone else's finger. In the same way, you could miss a million dollar opportunity because you are busy worrying about what you will each for lunch. Not worth it. Follow the example of triage and carrying out every thought and action in it's proper time and place.

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