Staying alert and diligent can be a tiring routine to go through. Wouldn’t it be great if we can just go about life without having to work that brain of ours all the time?
If we can program ourselves into auto-pilot, we can free ourselves from the chains of daily routines and spend that time to think about kitten videos and about that looker we met the night before.
But if you are an adult, you’d probably agree that mindless thinking and behavior can have dire consequences to not only you, but to the people around you as well.
And in both instances, it can be a very big source of stress.
Everyone has a talent in mindlessness
You don’t need to train yourself into mindless thinking. The overwhelming odds are that you are already an expert at it. And a part of you don’t wish to let this personal indulgence go.
Remember the time when you were day-dreaming on the subway and almost missed your station? The time when you were so engrossed at thinking about how to best capture a picture of a gourmet on the table that you come across as rude to others on the table? Or maybe the time when you felt a presentation was so routine that you forgot to address the CEO attending it?
While cruising on auto-pilot can have it’s merits, it is something you’d want to manage if stress is something affecting the quality of your life.
When in the mood, you become unaware, unfocused, and robotic. Not the best condition to avoid consequences that result in stress.
On top of that, while you are on auto-pilot, it just gives you mind extra room to think about issues that are already stressing you and non-issues that give you anxiety.
This is not to mention the trouble you might get into while being in a trance.
The main advantage of mindlessness is multi-tasking.
These days with the mess of the modern world around us, multi-tasking is an essential skill. So much so that it is now a given that any job description would list “multi-tasker” as a requirement by default.
There are just so many things we want to do in a day. And 24 hours sometimes just don’t seem enough.
Just take a seat on a bench in the park and would see joggers listing to music, making phone call, texting their friends, sharing their running pictures on social media, and even gaming while they are at it.
There are little downsides when we are referring to innocent activities like these.
But when activities become more serious, multi-tasking can be a disaster in the making.
For example, when you are texting and driving at the same time, when you are cooking too many dishes at the same time, when you are ironing your clothes and watching the kids at the same time.
When your attention is spread too thin when doing hazardous tasks, you are basically inviting bad things to happen. And happen fast!
At work, multi-tasking can cause you to forget about deadlines or even about the flight booking you boss told you about yesterday. And he is flying off today!
At play, it could mean arriving late to a social gathering because you had overlooked the message about the change in meetup timing. And everyone is leaving in 10 minutes.
At home, you might have forgotten to turn off the water heater. Giving you the edgy prospect of of looking forward to the utility bills that arrive at the end of the month.
It might be alright is if you have to bear the brunt of the consequences resulting from your mindlessness. But your stress levels might go through the roof should a third party have to suffer as you are due to your mindless acts.
People close to you might get hurt. Compounding anxiety.
The way we think, feel, and act are linked. And whenever we give out mind to wander when being mindless, we are giving it a free-hand at what to think about.
This includes distorted and unrealistic thoughts.
This can be a catalyst to create negative feelings of anguish, misery, anger, resentment, depression, torment, sorrow, etc. It’s basically how people start becoming emotionally and mentally unstable.
And if you are a pushover in your own head, the voice inside can convince you of negative thoughts like:
- You are a loser
- You are unworthy
- You are a pain in the neck
- You will never succeed in life
- You deserve misery
And this in turn, can alter your self-worth and self-esteem. Giving anxiety a playground to take root and stress a place to thrive.
The fact is that not everyone is an expert in recognizing and deciphering their own feelings. In fact, less than half the population can tell the difference between fact and feeling. Meaning most people assume something is as such just because they felt like it.
The connection to all these is self-explanatory.
Mindlessness can lead to wandering of the mind. Which can lead to distorted thoughts. That can lead to negative emotions. And resulting in destructive actions that affect both the suffers and the people around them. Amplifying your stress levels.
With this in mind, next time you catch yourself being mindless or you can predict it (like when you know you would be on a 3 hour fight), do something that would catch the attention of your mind. Don’t let it wander off unless… that’s exactly what you want it to do.