The Fight Against The Racing Mind

Brain(LR)Tom replies to Adrian’s recent blog about the overactive mind and discusses the difficulties of keeping an overactive mind under control.


Adrian’s recent blog about battling the negative mind has made me think about my own conscious and subconscious thoughts. I have never considered categorising these thoughts in this way.

My mind races and it always has. I fear the speed at which thoughts can run through my mind and the level of detail that I can pick out of any given scenario. This partly links to my imagination which is able to create a new world one minute or go through an alternate discussion with a work colleague the next. It means that ideas and opinions come quite fluidly, but these thoughts come at a cost. That cost, like Adrian’s, is normally sleep and peace of mind.

I often worry that my mind will race ahead of me at a pace that I just can’t keep up with and I will be lost forever. Having hobbies helps significantly with this, turning a burning mind to the attention of building a model, writing a novel or recording music pushes all other distractions aside and allows me to find focus.

I limit my exposure to media messages and news articles and try hard to maintain a choice in what I read, watch and listen to, so that I can avoid gathering nonsensical worries about the world. My imagination is best directed at things that are constructive. Worrying isn’t the most constructive activity, but I have developed some wonderful project strategies and business plans over the years while trying to curtail any worry that comes careening into my mind.

As I get older I have started to realise that such planning for the worst seems less and less of an importance. One of the few universal laws that I have discovered in this life is this:

‘It is always the circumstance you never planned for that always happens’

I use to think that if I planned for the worst case scenario in all situations then I could work backwards to a safer scenario. For the most part, this approach has worked well for me, but it really requires a significant mental investment. subsequently my stubbornness to modify my plans can then seem incredibly strange to others who haven’t followed my imaginary project plan.

As my universal law above states, this is often thrown to ruin by that one thing happening that you never conceived as a possibility. A whole new thought process then begins regarding the containment of this mysterious anomaly. These mind games have been fun for most of my life, but I admit that I am getting ‘too old for this shit’ and I am starting to prefer this variant of my universal law.

‘Nothing ever goes as planned, so you just need to be able and willing to adapt’

This is pretty similar to the previous law, but requires much less mental effort. In a world where accountability seems to be paramount I think a lot of people worry about things going wrong and whether they will be blamed. Most of our time seems to be spent ensuring that we are not caught doing something wrong or we are proving that something that has happened wasn’t our fault. It is a shame, because so much stress and anxiety is caused by this culture of blame.

I am starting to become more comfortable with accepting that I make mistakes and just try to find a way around resolving things. It is rarely worth the mental effort to harbour regrets and guilt. It is better to be prepared for change, whatever that change may be.

NSE Tom Icon

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About Grasslands

Tom Haynes is based in Swindon, Wiltshire (UK) and works in Newbury (Berkshire). Tom is a full-time professional ecologist (wildlife surveyor and researcher), drone pilot and Managing Director of a nature conservation consultancy. He has spent the past few years surveying the UK coastline while also being involved in various other wildlife projects across the UK and Europe. In his spare time Tom records music as 'Grasslands' and as part of the electronic band 'No Side Effects'. Tom is also a fiction writer and is a member of various writing groups. In addition, Tom is a keen model maker and builds models and commissions as GrasslandsModels Websites: Grasslands Music: www.Grasslands.bandcamp.com No Side Effects Music: www.NoSideEffectsMusic.com NatureBureau: http://www.naturebureau.co.uk Grasslands Models: www.GrasslandsModels.wordpress.com

One thought on “The Fight Against The Racing Mind

  1. Some good representations of how I feel! I’ve become this way more and more as I’ve got older and although I think it makes me better at what I do, it does impact on my life outside of work. I’m envious at those who have a calm clear mind and can ‘switch off’ yet still be excellent at what they do. Some nice thoughts on how to attain this state.

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