Could you be going into Brain Crash Mode?
Your mind is so active it is exhausted. It has been churning over and over all the things that need to be done, that could be done, that ought to be done, it has been shouting at you, berating you, blaming you and generally never, ever shutting up. It is on overtime, it’s tired, it has become so exhausted with the tangled web of possible directions and decisions that it has stopped being able to help.
We need to allow it to have a break, to stop a while and clear some space for new thinking to come through. When a bin is full, you don’t keep chucking in the rubbish until it overflows all over the kitchen floor (at least not for long anyway!), you get a new bin liner, you empty the bin and you start afresh. The brain needs emptying on a regular basis to create the space for all the new thoughts you are going to fill it with.
When we are stress, overwhelmed, anxious or depressed we have metaphorically reached a point where the rubbish is spilling all over the kitchen floor.
This metaphor has limits of course, I’m not saying that everything we put into our brains is rubbish – although there is something to be said for sorting through the trash now and again and thinking about what we want to keep and what can be thrown away for good.
The thing about the mind going over and over things is that it gets to a point where it will be forced to stop unless we help it to slow down and clear. It will eventually go into a forced shut down and that’s when we go from endless distractions to just sitting and staring.
Where are you right now on the brain crash scale? Is your mind in a state of leaping from one thing to the next, forgetfulness, panic, headless chicken mode? Or has it gone full out into sit on the sofa and do nothing? Wherever you are right now, your brain is giving you a clear message – “stop this now or I will stop it for you”.
Most of our brain crashes result from having so many or so little options that we go into ambivalence. Having too many choices brings us to a standstill because they all seem like they could be good options, they could all be the ‘right’ road to take. But how do you know? What if one of them is the ‘wrong’ road? How do you make the decision?
The same results when we have too little options, we go into a sort of desperation mode. Do we choose to keep things the same, where they are at least safe and known or do we take a leap into the unknown where we may crash and burn? What would happen then? Especially if we have responsibilities and people who rely on us, would it be selfish to go for something different? To create uncertainty and possible hardship just so that we can be happier (perhaps). What if it doesn’t work out? We have let go of everything that was certain and faced the fire only to get burned ourselves and have burned everyone we love in the process.
Headless Chicken mode
When we are in headless chicken mode we are charging from one thing to the next, nothing is ever satisfactorily completed, things are forgotten, appointments are missed, work goes unfinished, stress permeates everything that you think, say and do. You are the king or queen of ‘I’m too busy’ or ‘I can’t cope’ and it is the first thing you think whenever another task is placed before you.
It seems like no one understands the strain that you are under and yet you feel guilty too because you know that you should really be able to get more done and for things not to be as hectic as they are, you just don’t even have the breathing space to get organized. So you plough on, the days get filled with more and more stuff, your head stops you sleeping because you have so much you need to run over and consider.
Your relationships may be struggling too because you are so distracted with your to-do list and your growing list of ‘things not done’ that you can’t take the time out to relax with them, to really listen to them (your head is too full of your own stuff to be able to fit in theirs too), to make love to them or to understand and fufill their needs.
Your children are given the minimum interaction, you try to be there for them, to show that you are listening but really you are just going through the motions. Really you are desperate to get back to what you were doing, to thinking about what to do next, to come up with solutions, ideas and strategies.
It’s not that you want to live like this, you just can’t see another way at the moment. You don’t have time to smell the roses, to go to that exercise class, to do all the things that you suspect might help if only people would understand that you DON’T HAVE TIME.
What happens when the headless chicken can’t take it anymore?
sofa slump mode
When the Headless Chicken has done all the running around in circles that it can do, it inevitably, at some point gets so exhausted that it needs to stop. It can become the Sofa Slump.
The sofa slump is not the same as the normal time out to watch your favourite programme, to have dinner or just to chill out listening to music for a while. The sofa slump is far more insidious.
The Sofa Slump comes when your mind has had enough and it needs to think of nothing for a while. Maybe a day, several days, sometimes longer – which is when depression can set in. It needs to be numb for a while, it is full, the kitchen floor is covered in the unemptied trash that has been filling your brain and it can’t bear to look at it any longer. It simply shuts off.
The Sofa Slump is not somewhere you want to stay for long but it is enticing, it calls to you it invites you to rest and to stay rested because that feels a bit better than Headless Chicken mode at least.
The Sofa Slump is devoid of motivation, of purpose, of meaning. It is empty and sometimes, that’s exactly what your mind has been seeking – space, numbness, emptiness and a lack of caring about what is going on around you.
There is no judgement in any of this, your mind has taken itself into a place that it needed and knowing what got you there is a great place to be able to start stopping. The Sofa Slump was just an inevitable reaction to everything the mind had to cope with, it was full, it was overflowing, it needed to stop.
In order to avoid both of these Brain Crash modes it is essential that you STOP, even for a while before things are stopped for you by your exhausted mind and body.
Need some help? Why not email me and find out more about the Therapy and Coaching options I offer to help you get out of Brain Crash and into your Positive Potential® firstname.lastname@example.org