How To Calm An Overactive Mind

Is your mind like still water, or does it more resemble the churning white waters of the Futaleufú River?

A calm spirit and quiet mind teach us how to deal with an over-active mind. and perceive the world around us with heightened clarity. If we can element the noise in our heads and silence the inner critic, we can manage our life experiences more positively and authentically.

What is an Over-Active Mind?

On the other hand, a needy mind can drown out rationality and fill us with a deep sense of dissatisfaction and inadequacy. A stressed mind creates cycles of thought that negatively impact our sense of self and disrupt our ability to communicate clearly.

What Causes an Overactive Mind?

I’m most aware of my cluttered mind when working with horses, who have an almost Buddhist ability to bypass our external projections and go straight to the heart of the matter.

If my mind is distracted with work deadlines and financial worries, my horse will be similarly distracted and seemingly incapable of performing the simplest tasks.

It’s not the horse that is confused; however, it’s my instructions. Caught up in the maelstrom of my emotions and subconscious thoughts, those instructions are muffled and without mindful intent, making them incoherent and virtually meaningless.

Similar problems occur in the workplace. Distracted leaders overloaded with pressures and expectations give vague instructions and guidance, leading to confusion and frustration.

What Are the Impacts of an Over-Active Mind?

To communicate and work effectively with anyone, we need to be authentic to our true selves. There should be no distinction between how we feel and how we act.

Unfortunately, if you’re feeling stressed or frustrated, the chances are, that’s what you will project to the outside world so, before we can communicate clearly and lead with intent, we first need to quieten the raging waters in our minds.

That means achieving “a mental and emotional state in which your head is clear, able to create and respond freely, unencumbered with distractions and split focus.”

How To Lose Your Narrative And Still The Mind

To achieve a mind still like water, we first need to let go of our own inner narratives and remove ourselves from the focus of our attention, allowing it to explore other possibilities and perspectives. We must learn how to deal with an over-active mind. We must also become aware of our subconscious thought processes.

This takes a huge amount of courage, but we can become better at our jobs, better colleagues, and better bosses if we can achieve it.

Mehrnaz Bassiri, a progress specialist, suggests that, by adopting the following three habits, we may at least manage to stop our minds from resembling the great Futaleufú River, even if they end up looking more like a children’s water park than a still lake.

1 Say No – learn to be honest about your capabilities and limitations, rather than overloading yourself and your mind with impossible tasks and unreasonable goals.

2 Prioritise Self -Love – make the time to look after yourself for a change. After a busy week, take some time off, for instance. Carve out the time to eat healthy meals, sleep, and exercise, understanding that “since mind and body are connected, prioritizing self-care nurtures stillness in our mind.”

3 Don’t Mind Others – don’t put too much value on other people’s actions or words. Sure, there will be plenty of times when a colleague or customer behaves in such a way that it upsets you and threatens your peace of mind, but you don’t have to dwell on it. Practice letting goes of that negativity, and soon, it will become easier and quicker to move on. By doing so, you’ll find you’re more able to be fully present in your life.


The dramas and events in other people’s lives can become overwhelming when combined with our own inner narratives. If we can learn how to deal with an over-active mind, we can respond to daily challenges with authenticity and wisdom.

However, if we let our inner narratives have the upper hand, we’re more likely to overreact, admonishing someone whose late to work simply because we’ve been punished for the same wrongdoing in the past.

A mind like still water never overreacts or under reacts, instead of responding as a lake reacts to a pebble – “in perfect harmony with the initial disturbing action.”

In adopting a mind still like water, we free ourselves of negative thoughts, banish historical wrongs to the past, and enable ourselves to think and respond with greater authenticity and clarity, thus taking control of our inner narative.

In doing so, those around us may also “live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.”[1]

[1] The Celtic Twilight: Faerie And Folklore, William Butler Yeats, p.136. Dover Publications, NY, 1902