I’ve had an earworm stuck in my mind for several days now.
An earworm is an unwanted tune that’s in your head, on repeat!
Mine is ‘Let it go!’ which comes from a Disney film I never saw. But it’s currently being used on a TV ad.
Earworms are a bit like other repetitive thoughts that we have. You might recognise your inner critic who constantly repeats the same negative phrases. Burrowed away in your brain, it emerges at random.
Or at bedtime you find yourself replaying a scene and it won’t go away. It returns frequently, usually accompanied by an associated emotion. When it’s a difficult reminder it can be like reliving the experience. It’s not pleasant. Has this happened to you?
Just like an earworm, our thoughts can sometimes feel as though we have no control over them. Tunes, experiences, conversations – they all come and go completely unbidden.
Grief and fear can be particularly insistent. How do you deal with this when your head becomes overwhelmed with unwanted thoughts?
Firstly, observe your experience. If it’s an earworm – notice what the lyrics are. In my recent experience, ‘Let it go!’ is making me smile as the irony is not lost on me!
Follow the link here to make an earworm a meditation.
If it’s an experience that keeps returning into your thoughts, again, acknowledge it.
Perhaps there is something unresolved within the situation, so it might be appropriate to sit and work it out. Grief may be a natural response that needs to take its course.
Alternatively, notice if it’s an experience that happened in the past and you continue to get drawn in. You go round in circles without any resolution. By giving your attention to it you feed it and it persistently returns. Fantasies are like that too!
What you focus on will grow
Instead, take a mindful pause. This can open up some space between you and the story. You’ve got the choice to place your focus somewhere else.
Notice your posture. Focus fully on your body, your feet or the feel of your chair.
Thoughts, songs, feelings all come and go. They’re not fixed. What you focus on will grow. So guide your focus away from the challenging thoughts.
Instead, acknowledge your experience. Then bring humour in if it helps. You can choose to unhook from the distracted thoughts by returning fully to your present experience.
Notice what is physically around you. Your physical presence. Your breath. This lessens the intrusion of those thoughts and songs. And if they return, gently repeat your mindful practice.
More fascinating facts about earworms here.
And, of course, earworms and recurrent thoughts all form part of the human state. Best thing to do is learn to live with them. Mindfully!
Yvette Jane – Mindfulness & Meditation Coach
Learn to be mindful with Place of Serenity