I said in a previous article: What is the best state in life? It is to concentrate fully on what you are currently doing, whether it is studying, working, thinking, or entertaining.
But for some people, this state may be a luxury.
No matter what time, their minds are always turning, processing a lot of information, and there is no way to empty it. This has led to a phenomenon that they are particularly prone to “think too much.”
I want to concentrate on my work, but all kinds of distracting thoughts, worries and worries are involuntarily popped up in my mind, distracting myself;
When encountering a little bit of things, I will think a lot, and I often think about it over and over again. In severe cases, it may even affect sleep;
There are often “difficult choices”, and they particularly dislike making choices, because they always think and weigh the options upside down, which consumes a lot of energy;
And, in life, I always subconsciously stay alert to many things. When encountering an event, the first reaction is always “will there be a problem?”…
In the eyes of outsiders, their minds are turning quickly, thinking about problems comprehensively, and appearing very “smart”.
But only they know that this feeling is actually very, very painful.
Because they have to spend a lot of brainpower and energy on coping with these unconscious thoughts in their minds, so they are almost in a state of “full load operation” in their daily lives . Therefore, even if you don’t do much every day, you are particularly prone to feeling exhausted.
Especially when they need to make decisions and take actions, this phenomenon is even more serious.
To use an analogy, normal people may have 80% of their energy that can be used for action, but they only have 30 or 40% of their energy that can be used, and this part of energy has to be followed by the “crazy thinking” that accounts for 50% and 60% of their brain power. Fight.
Therefore, one of the characteristics of these people is that they always think a lot, but are often trapped in their own thoughts, and very few are actually implemented in their actions.
Psychologically, this phenomenon is called “overthinking” (overthinking), and it has a more common name called “mental internal friction.”
Obviously, this phenomenon is more likely to occur in an introverted and sensitive person. They are indeed the main victims of mental internal friction.
If you have experienced similar troubles, then today, I want to talk to you about my experience and insights.
First of all, let’s talk about it. Why is there a phenomenon of mental internal friction?
The first factor is overactive DMN.
I said in a previous article: Our brains are actually working when they are doing nothing. At this time, the operating mode of the brain is called the Default Mode Network (DMN).
What is the role of DMN? It sorts out the fragmented information in the background of the brain and reactivates the information that may be forgotten. In computer terms, it is to “index” the brain.
Therefore, even if we do nothing, the brain is actually continuously consuming energy, which is about 20% of the daily energy consumption. It is because of this principle.
Similarly, people who are more active in DMN tend to have better long-term memory, imagination, and creativity than ordinary people. This is the reason — because their DMN is more active, they are more efficient in organizing information. , The effect is better.
But the problem is that the brain area involved in DMN is highly overlapped with the part involved in the network responsible for “self and others” and “emotional judgment”.
In other words: People with more active DMN will also be more likely to consider “other people’s feelings” and notice “bad places”. This gives them a great advantage: stronger empathy.
But in turn, this also brings a huge problem: mental internal friction.
On the one hand, the excessive activity of DMN makes them unable to concentrate when they focus on work. Because DMN will constantly compete with Task Positive Network (TPN) for attention resources.
On the other hand, when DMN is not controlled by TPN, it will “free itself” even more. It will continuously transport all kinds of negative thoughts in memory to consciousness, and constantly remind itself of their existence, no matter if they are big, small, past, future, long-term, short-term, serious, Slight……
To a certain extent, this does help to solve the problem and also helps us to plan ahead. Therefore, these people seldom have “ill-thought” situations, and they tend to think comprehensively.
But it is precisely because of this that they “think more and do less.”
why? Because our brains have loss aversion. Faced with the same gains and losses, our aversion to the latter is about twice that of the former. To put it simply and crudely, when a choice is 67% favorable to us and 33% unfavorable, we may be inclined to act. (This is a simple and rude statement, not accurate)
(For risk-averse people, this ratio may be even higher to impress them.)
Similarly, out of loss aversion, our brains also have a function called “threat recognition” when processing various information. It is like a radar, constantly scanning everything around for possible threats to keep itself safe.
And what is the characteristic of threat recognition? It tends to exaggerate and highlight the details of a thing that may be threatening, and ignore the safe and normal details, so that we can’t see the full picture of the thing.
Make an analogy. Suppose a choice has 10 factors, of which 5 factors are favorable and 5 factors are unfavorable. At this time, if you see the whole picture, then it is 50-50, and it is reasonable whether you choose to act or not.
But out of loss aversion, we may wait until it becomes 70-30, that is, when 70% is in our favor, then we will act.
At this time, we will add threat identification. Due to the role of threat recognition, we may be more likely to pay attention to the three unfavorable factors and miss the seven favorable factors-for example: we may only focus on five factors, of which three are unfavorable and two are favorable of.
So, for us, it becomes 40-60.
(Unfavorable: 3/5=60%; Favorable: 2/5=40%)
In other words: the existence of loss aversion and threat recognition will blind our eyes and make us unable to see the whole picture; and on this basis, keep the unfavorable parts and omit the favorable parts.
Is it possible for us to act? Obviously it is impossible. We have been “frightened” by it.
This is the second factor: the fear caused by threat recognition.
As I said before: Most of the time, it is not the problem itself that hinders us, but our fear of the problem.
Fear is like a shadow that casts deep in your heart. The more you stop, the larger the shadow.
But is this fear real? Actually not. From the previous analysis, we can see that the existence of this kind of fear stems from the one-sided view of our vision and the rejection of losses and threats deep in our hearts. It is false and untrue. We are frightening ourselves.
In fact, the brain actually provides another tool to compensate, which is our “extended memory”, which is the experience of our past actions, success, and experience.
In the past, every time you successfully “done” something – it may be a decision, it may be a brave step, it may be a behavior that has never been tried… the brain will write it down and store it. In “Extended Memory”, 1 point is added.
When the brain detects a threat, it will use the information in the extended memory to counter and offset the threat.
But for people who are mentally exhausted, because they think more and do less, “extended memory” is inherently weaker, and it is more difficult to fight fear.
Therefore, a person with a very serious mental internal friction is actually equivalent to falling into such a negative cycle:
- If you encounter a problem, you decide to review it first before talking;
- This kind of “look at it” causes you to over-exaggerate its threat, thus forming fear;
- This fear further weakens your intention to act, and you need more energy to fight it before you can take action, thus causing delays;
- Most problems tend to get worse and worse under procrastination, eventually forcing you to act, so you will feel “you have made a wrong decision”;
- Over time, this feeling will aggravate your self-doubt, weaken your self-confidence, and thereby weaken your “extended memory”, making you even more unable to fight fear…
What is the result of this negative cycle? It is a decline in happiness.
On the one hand, this lack of action and self-doubt will threaten a person’s sense of value and meaning, making him feel “incapable”, thereby reducing life satisfaction.
On the other hand, a classic paper in 2010 found that when people fall into DMN, their happiness is almost 100% reduced (Killingsworth and Gilbert, 2010).
This means that in life, the longer a person has DMN, the lower his overall happiness level.
The reason is simple: when we concentrate, we will experience the feeling of “finally overcome difficulties by racking our brains”. This is a positive cycle that stimulates our reward circuit and gives us a sense of pleasure.
But conversely, when we are dominated by the DMN, we will not only be distracted and unable to “raise our brains” as much as possible. On the contrary, we will also think of a series of negative and unpleasant thoughts that make us feel our own powerlessness.
This is the problem of mental internal friction:
It will not only exhaust your energy, reduce your mobility, and make you feel exhausted;
It will also reduce your satisfaction and happiness in life, and even affect your perception of the meaning of your own existence.
So, after talking so much, how to overcome mental internal friction?
Share 4 effective methods. May wish to train more consciously in your daily life to make them a habit.
1. Take control of your thoughts
Think about it: What actually happens when we are caught in mental internal friction?
We are surrounded by all kinds of negative thoughts of ourselves, and we are caught in confrontation and struggle against them, so that we feel exhausted, right?
So, how to deal with it? Let yourself not have all kinds of negative thoughts at all? Unfortunately, this is unrealistic, because as the name suggests-DMN is originally a “default” state, it is the normal state of life.
But we can allow ourselves to “endure” these negative thoughts and take the lead in our own hands instead of letting them dominate our thinking.
1) When we have a negative thought, accept it and say to it: I know, I will wait to deal with it when I have time, now you can withdraw.
2) Make a special notebook to record these negative thoughts. When they occur, write them down in time, and then stop thinking about them.
3) Every day or every week, set aside a certain amount of time on a regular basis, open this notebook, examine these negative thoughts one by one, and ask one by one:
- “Is it real?”
- “Is it likely to happen?”
- “Is there a way I can deal with it?”
4) Once you think about the above three questions, cross them out; instead, write down the methods you can think of and can act on the side.
In this way, you can continuously strengthen your initiative and make yourself feel: I can control my thoughts, and I have the ability to do so.
Then, slowly, when you have any negative thoughts, you will no longer be trapped by them, but you can deal with them and settle them with ease.
2. Exercise concentration and perception
What is the essence of DMN? It is the brain’s “belief in the horse by the rein”. That is, when we do not deliberately use the brain to focus on an object, DMN will be activated.
Then, to reduce the activity of DMN, all you have to do is to exercise your ability to “maintain your attention on a certain object.”
One of the most common practices is mindfulness. You can give it a try when you are free: find a comfortable position, close your eyes, take a breath for about 10 seconds, focus on the breath, experience the feeling in the breathing process, and don’t worry about the back and forth in your mind. Don’t suppress it. Lasts about 10-15 minutes.
Another way to exercise is to stop everything you are doing, take one or two deep breaths, and then ask yourself in order: What am I seeing now? What sound did you hear? What smell do you smell? What did my hands and feet touch, and how did it feel? You can also close your eyes, take a few steps with your senses, and focus on feeling the information from your senses in this process.
These two practice methods can be written down with sticky notes, and you can do them whenever you think of or see them, and slowly make them a habit.
This can very effectively strengthen your concentration and improve your ability to control your brain.
3. Attention shift and saturation
What is attention saturation? Simply put: Why are we distracted when we are working? The most critical reason is that the things we are doing at hand cannot attract our interest 100%, and our attention is “not saturated enough”, which creates idle resources.
Therefore, our brain activates the DMN, which makes our attention turn from the outside to the inside to allocate these idle resources.
Therefore, a simple way is to increase the need for attention in the things we are doing, so as to saturate our attention. So it will not activate DMN.
For example: When I am working, if the things I am doing do not require too much attention, then I will work in stages. That is to open multiple projects at the same time, project 1 works for a period of time, switch to project 2, and then work for a period of time, switch to project 3… and so on.
What are the benefits of this? You continue to deal with a task. After a period of time, your brain will be tired of it. At this time, a part of your attention will be idle, and it is especially easy to “distract”-all you have to do is use Another thing is to draw attention to the past again, to avoid turning it inside, to ruminate those negative thoughts.
Similarly, in my task list, there will be a “problem” list, which records a series of questions that I need to think about and make decisions. In the fragmented time, when I have nothing to do, I will not turn my attention to the inside, but will open this list, pick a question, start thinking, and use it to fill my attention.
(Refer to: The secret to efficient management of time lies in these three lists )
In other words: we cannot stop ourselves from being “distracted”, but we can guide this distraction goal to make it more meaningful and more in line with our needs to “distract”.
4. Turn the action into the default mode
From the previous analysis, you can see: The main problem of mental internal friction is to consume our motivation and block our actions.
This sentence is also true in reverse: the most effective way to overcome mental internal friction is actually to cultivate the habit of “acting.”
Therefore, a simple and rude principle is:
If you can’t think of a particularly powerful reason for “not doing it,” then choose to do it first.
Consider this sentence as a creed to guide your decision-making and judgment. You can write it down on a sticky note, let yourself see it repeatedly, and remind yourself to act.
In many cases, there may be various reasons for not doing it. It may be because of the fear of trouble, the weighing of gains and losses, or the fear of uncertainty… But if you do not do it, these things will always be “unknown” and they will never be obtained. Solving, will remain in your memory, and squeeze your cognitive resources with the activation of DMN.
Only by acting, can you turn the unknown into the known, the uncertainty into the certainty, let them be placed and dealt with, and no longer interfere with your thinking.
On the other hand, action is also the first step to start your own positive feedback loop. In many cases, only if you act, you will discover that what I feared is actually not that terrible; in fact, many of my previous speculations, worries, and anxiety about it are unnecessary.
This is the first step for you to begin to overcome self-doubt and fear.
It is also the first step for you to get rid of mental internal friction.