My Head is a Nice Place to Visit, But I Wouldn’t Want to Live There

One of my favorite quotes is: My head is like a bad neighborhood and I shouldn’t stay there alone!

I’ve shared that with many people over the years. What it’s always meant to me is that if I try to analyze my problems myself without verbalizing them to a trusted friend or therapist – or even just writing them down, or without allowing myself to actually feel through them – they just seem to take on more & more power over me. I call it the intellectual violence that I perpetrate on myself.

In the 12 Step Program we talk about getting outside our own heads, which I’ve taken to mean something similar – and also understood that if I carry the message on to others, then I will learn and grow more myself, as well as being of help to others.

Staying in the moment, which I remind myself to do on a consistent basis, also means staying out of my head. To do that, I usually switch the focus to my body.  As humans, we’re kind of thinking machines, so we’ll never completely get away from our thoughts. But we can work on being aware and conscious of what is going on around us as much as possible, so as not get caught up in that intellectual violence.

At times when I’ve had some real hurt in my life, I’ve meditated to help me stay in love as I dealt with it. Then, invariably, a friend or family member shared some very difficult problems in their lives. I’ve “gotten outside my own head” and reached out to them. I’ve put myself in their place and felt their pain. As a therapist, I’ve learned the art of being compassionate while detaching at the same time, so I can remain objective enough to be helpful. It’s much more difficult with friends and family, but I’ve been able to use that skill to be there for them.

During the time I was focusing on my friends and their issues, I totally forgot my own problems. And sometimes the issue I’d been working through just turned completely around and started working well again. I know it won’t be that way forever but I’ve learned to live in the moment and take joy in the good times when they are here without waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The part that amazes me is that I just know part of the reason it turned around is because I let go of it for a time, and gave from love to someone else who needed it. Don’t misunderstand. Very often, our problems need to be revisited until we see them through. But that means letting go of the obsessive thoughts about them and feeling the emotional part. And it doesn’t help to stay in the problem constantly. Otherwise, we’d never move toward a solution. Allowing ourselves to be there for others, even in the midst of our own pain (if we are able), can help us in that process. I swear what we put out there comes back to us – and even opens up the energy field for everyone else!

The energy in the world right now feels very heavy and sometimes dark – depending on who we are listening to or what we are focusing on. We are all experiencing some very harmful, painful events, even if it is somewhat vicariously for some of us. It’s difficult to just brush it off and go about our own business.

I have always been the eternal optimist when it comes to societal issues. I believe we are on the cusp of a more enlightened civilization, but there are those who are not as spiritually or emotionally in tune, and they feel very threatened. They are hanging on to everything they “know” (the familiar) because the unknown is too scary and they don’t seem to be willing or able to learn about that uncharted territory. That heavier energy is felt by all of us.

But I do think we can combat it by doing just what I said earlier. Let it go, even if for a few minutes at a time. Do whatever works for you to free yourself. Meditate, pray, play, plan the vacation of your dreams – even if you don’t believe you’ll ever really take it. Most of all focus on love. Look for stories about the people who are helping in the horrific situations we wake up to on the news every day.

Nothing in this world happens that is not first imagined. Contrary to what you may have been told as a child, daydreaming is not a bad thing, as long as we don’t stay there ALL the time. We need to envision the world we want to see – personally and socially in order for it to come to fruition. That’s the first step towards the solution. Then we come back to today and do what we can to move towards that vision.

“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”

– Eckhart Tolle