We all have lots of thoughts and ideas washing through our minds at any given time. Stuff we need to do, fragments of conversations we’ve had, bits of songs, worries, reminders, what to make for dinner.
You know word clouds? There are words of different sizes close together on a background, and the relative size of each word corresponds to how often it was mentioned in the survey or conversation the data came from.
I think of these bits and pieces that float through our minds as word clouds, too. The size of each word corresponds to how much space it is taking up in your (my) brain. Most of the time, maybe the word that’s the biggest reflects what we’re currently tackling. Then there’re one or two that are a little smaller. They might be what’s next on our list, something we know we have to do later, or “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham, because it’s just stuck in there.
But sometimes there’s a word in all caps, right in the middle, that you just can’t get away from. It’s way bigger than it should be, but you can’t seem to get it to move or get smaller. Maybe it’s some feedback you got that was painful, or an interaction that went wrong. Unfortunately, these out-sized words are rarely keeping positive thoughts at the forefront of our minds—nope, we’re really good at giving out the prime real estate to the stuff that makes us feel bad.
So what can we do to shrink that ALL-CAPS word? How can we get it down to size?
For me, it helps to talk to someone outside of the situation at hand. Almost always, the act of describing out loud what’s got me so preoccupied helps me to get perspective. Then, like magic, the word starts to get smaller, and to move away from the center of my word cloud.
Another tip is to actually picture, or draw, your word cloud. What big words are getting your focus and energy? What’s small and pushed to the side? Is everything where you want it? What happens when you change the words externally—can they start to shift in your mind, as well?
I’d love to hear: what are the words in your word cloud?