NOTE: This is a transcription of this podcast episode
singing: Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome BAAAACK –
You guys remember that song from Mase? You remember Mase, he was like the Robin to Puff Daddy’s Batman and he left rap to become a pastor, then came back to rap for a hot minute and this song – Welcome Back – signalled his return. There’s this one lyric that feels like an almost perfect representation of adulthood:
Self control, and I can’t tell you no lie
Tryin’ to find a soulmate, you end up being so tired
I make my money man without the coca
Livin’ the vida without the loca
“Livin’ the vida without the loca” – another 90’s reference to Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca. But enough of behind the music 101- millennial edition. WELCOME BACK.
Back after a 3 month break
I am Nicolette, your podcast hostess with the mostest and I took a bit of a hiatus. Gave birth to a whole book, created a really cool journal, did a little soul searching, a little self-loathing and watched Game of Thrones for the 100th time (by the way look out for a post on the blog: 5 lessons learned from re-watching Game of Thrones).
On one hand I felt like I could’ve done more with the break, but on the other I am grateful for the presence of mind to realize that I needed to take a break. I was able to reset; to create more engaging content on social media (just gonna pause here for a bit so you can follow us on Instagram : at the grownupmillennial, on Twitter : at GUpMillennial, on Pinterest at : The Grownup Millennial, like our page on Facebook: The Grownup Millennial and we’ve recently joined TikTok! Check us out on all platforms); I was able to go back to the real reason I created this space. I have always wanted to highlight stories, stories from the layman – not necessarily from someone who has some kind of influencer status or fame. There are so many untold stories around us and I am creating a space where we can share those stories. So I got back to those roots during the break. Look out for some amazing conversations – watch this space!
Do you ever feel like you’re living in your head?
Now after that whole spiel – here’s what we’re talking about in this episode:
Do you ever feel like you’re living in your head? Like you’ll think of something – maybe taking a vacation and you can envision the whole thing: your flight there; your outfits; how you’ll spend the days – maybe reading by the beach? Well, something like that happened to me when I was conceptualizing ideas for this episode: I had thought out everything to the point where it felt real. I was checking through my notes on my phone, in the reminders app, in Trello, in Google Keep (this also highlighted that I scatter ideas in too many places), but after a whole hour of looking it dawned on me that maybe I didn’t actually write it down, but I was living in my head to the point where it felt very real.
I thought I was an anomaly, but if it’s one thing about the internet…it’s gonna make you know you’re not alone. There were enough google search results for me to realize that this was a common enough issue. This article on PsychCentral outlined that: “Most people that spend an extensive amount of time daydreaming and fantasizing often pay little attention to the world outside of their head. Unfortunately, most people that live inside of their head do not even realize how often they engage in mind journeys until it is brought to their attention”.
Okay but that kinda sounds hella unsafe. When I was younger I had this dream? – well I think it was a dream but the emotions and everything felt so real that it still haunts me today – did that happen or not? I have heard of people blocking hurtful images and experiences from their minds – which may result in them not remembering aspects of their lives, but daydreaming or fantasizing about something until it feels real – that’s a whole new ballgame.
The article went on to say that: “escaping internally has become a coping mechanism to address things, events, or people we find unpleasant or distressing. It is not uncommon for people that live inside their head to feel cut off from their physical world, watching as it goes on without them without fully engaging with it. Past trauma and anxiety can serve as positive correlates for individuals struggling with avoidance issues”.
Too much of an escape
Lemme just run that back for you. The article went on to say that: “escaping internally has become a coping mechanism to address things, events, or people we find unpleasant or distressing. It is not uncommon for people that live inside their head to feel cut off from their physical world, watching as it goes on without them without fully engaging with it. Past trauma and anxiety can serve as positive correlates for individuals struggling with avoidance issues”.
Now what exactly are avoidance issues. Another article stated that: “Avoidance behaviours are any behaviour people use to escape or distract themselves from difficult thoughts, feelings, and situations. This can look like avoiding new job opportunities, career advancements, relationships, social situations, recreational activities, and family get-togethers”. Bruh! How many times have you had a bunch of work to do and just went to sleep instead or scrolled social media?
Living in our heads is related to issues we may have with avoidance, and all this leads back to dissociation. Dissociation is a mental process of disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, memories or sense of identity.
I am not sure if all this is more apparent now because we’re talking about it, or because of how society has evolved or could it be that we just now have the language to describe these behaviours. It might be a mix of all three.
In this world where so many things seem out of our control “by creating and maintaining an internal world we are afforded the opportunity to make adjustments, removing things, and people we deem to be unpleasant. This internal environment allows us to be in constant control of everything and everyone in our world, a control that usually does not extend to our physical environment” (source). Essentially, the control we cannot achieve in reality, we create in our internal world.
So since we cannot live in our heads 100% of the time, then what do we do to cope? Before we get to that that same Psyche Central article asks us to take a look at 6 consequences of us living inside our heads (a little too much):
- Losing track of time
- Limiting or preventing your ability to truly connect with someone else
- Internal retreats that can occur at times that you are required to be mentally present
- Building and maintaining romantic relationships can be extremely difficult
- We can give off an air of being self-absorbed or self-involved without regard for others
- Spending a lot of time inside our head can make things and people around us seem unreal
Are you a bystander or the main character?
“Living inside our head is the equivalent of watching a movie on a large screen. Living inside our head allows us to take on a bystander role. This role allows us to watch others engage and become altered by life experiences and challenges while we never truly engage. By watching rather than engaging we reduce the likelihood of exposure to things we find distressing or unpleasant. We also limit our chances of exposing our vulnerabilities to others, limiting what we assume are our chances of being hurt”. By living in our heads a little too much and avoiding difficult situations we don’t build up tolerance, to flex our muscles if you will, to deal with difficult situations. We cannot always run away from our problems or situations we don’t want to deal with.
Have you seen the Amazon Prime series Upload? It’s essentially about a service that they offer to people (who can afford it) to be uploaded to a digital afterlife when they die. The tier you’re uploaded to is based on the package you bought when you were alive. But you can also pay for different experiences in this virtual world, so you’re unlikely to encounter any of the problems of your life before death – if you don’t want to. A bit of a spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it – one lady was afraid that she would’ve lost her boyfriend (as in, she didn’t want him to break up with her) and so instead of opting for a totally non-invasive surgery so he could continue living in the real world, she decided to have him uploaded to this virtual space – and needless to say things still did not turn out as she planned and he still wanted to leave her (and did end up leaving her). So, we can’t outrun our problems, no matter how far in our heads we choose to live.
A journal that inspires you to check in with your feelings, write down those ideas and keep track of all those important (and maybe even not so important) notes.
In an effort to both interact with others and the world around us you must learn and re-learn how to become present. There are a few resources on the site to help us to get back to living in the now:
- Episode 57: We only have this moment – it also includes some real life hacks (that work) to help us create some stillness and includes a list of recommended books in the show notes, check out that episode
- Shameless plug: In my poetry collection “The years I lived inside”, there is a poem of the same name: We only have this moment. The entire first half of the collection is about tuning into self. Check it out on Amazon
- The blog post “The Future Isn’t Real” gives a 5 point cheat sheet on how to be more present. Check out the article and let me know your thoughts in the comments
- Another feel good article that leaves you feeling even better is the post: “Enjoy the joy of simply being”
- A personal fave is this article “What Marriage Has Taught Me about Life and Myself” where I share some hard truths like – you don’t really know anything and sometimes you’re the problem. The truths that are difficult but essential for us to do the inner work to become better beings
- Episode 64: Meditation and Radical Self-care with Saskia Seeling provides some insight on the benefits of being in the present and also includes a meditation and breath work exercise to help you reset
- We recently launched the Life Journal, 100 pages of inspiration, self-care reminders and good ol’ blank pages to continuing adding to the story of your life. You can grab it on Amazon, via these show notes or check it out on our resources and deals page.
Some practical ways to be more present
Six helpful tips from that can increase our likelihood of becoming and remaining present (source):
- Take a deep clearing breath
- Start to become consciously aware of times, people, and events that lead to internal withdrawal.
- Make notes of how often and how long you tend to fantasize.
- Employ thought stopping or though redirection
- Identify what you are feeling and why you may be feeling this way, i.e., what you are trying to escape
- Identify additional options to deal with what you are trying to escape rather than attempting to avoid them entirely
And to wrap up our episode today, I will end with the 5 tips for remaining present from the blog post – The Future Isn’t Real:
- Breathe. Take few deep breaths to try to centre yourself, to bring yourself back to the present.
- Sounds. While you close your eyes and take a few breaths, think about the sounds you’re currently hearing. This is a technique used in meditation to bring you back to the present.
- The Source. Maybe you’re feeling anxious about the future, try to identify where this anxiety is coming from. What triggered this fear or moment of discomfort?
- Work through it. Whatever it might be, take some time to remind yourself that it will all work out. If it’s something you need to spend more time with, spend the time so you can erase these fears. Keep telling yourself that working through the present will change the outcome.
- Let go. At some point we have to come to terms with the fact that if we can’t change it now then we have to let it go. Letting go of the thoughts that are caging us and keeping us in unhappiness and fear will not only help us to have a clearer mind, but it will open us up to more possibilities for a better future.
We all need a reminder to live in the present. Here’s another one for us both! As usual, leave a comment with your thoughts about this episode and feel free to shoot me a DM on Instagram and check out our TikTok account! We’re posting some cool, unique content there.