“Psychic entropy is a state of mind where your thoughts cannot flow to have concrete ideas but are stuck in the same state of thought like a Merry go Round. Because of the negativity, anxiety, being sad, alone and not interacting socially, being by yourself and having or thinking about the same thing over and over. The inability to handle complex thoughts without being overwhelmed and not knowing how to resolve or come to a conclusion about an idea or problem. Best thing to do in that situation is to go out socialize, do mundane tasks to take your mind off the chaos that is festering in the brain. Attention is very fragmented and needs to be defragmented just like a computer.” Mirjana Cross
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990, p. 3)
Psychic or psychological entropy is a state of mind first written about by Carl Jung and later developed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in his concept of “Flow The Psychology of Optimal Experience.” A state of psychic entropy is characterized by anxiety, sadness and boredom consisting of looping negative thought patterns (what I call death spirals of obsession). Psychic entropy is a state that leaves us with a greatly reduced ability to deal with complex external tasks or useful inner reflection. We all know what this feels like — being frazzled, fragmented and unraveled, paralyzed by inertia and self-absorption, worried thoughts gnawing our mind like a chew toy. So what can we do about that?
One answer is “Attention to Awareness.” To use such times to do easy repetitive mundane tasks like hoeing the weeds in the garden that can be done even if your attention is a bit unfocused. I find that paying full attention to being aware of hoeing will get me fully in the present. I can even shift into automatic mode and drop into lucid dreaming. I used to do this with long distance running but now do it with long bicycle rides or hikes also.
Another answer is “Distraction”. Listening to audio books (like “Authentic Happiness”, “Flow”, or “Finding Inner Courage”) on headphones while taking a long hike or hoeing the weeds in the garden to replace the chaotic inner turmoil with better quality content.
Psychic entropy is more likely to occur while alone so try positive social contact. Focus on considering others’ needs rather than your own — as psychic entropy is based on self-absorption. Alternatively, you could go all the way in the other direction and sit down in solitude, perhaps with a journal open, and carefully observe, or even record, all the looping negative thought patterns; see what subpersonalities they come from and what their issues are (you need a very strong will to do this!). If the state of psychic entropy comes from a lack of meaning in your life then see what you can do to increase meaning and purpose for your life (considering others’ needs or a purpose larger than self).
Consider Csikszentmihalyi’s “5 C’s” of a Complex Personality:
“The Complex Personality knows how to integrate a variety of experiences into its overall experience, making the dullest moments interesting. Being in Flow leads to Complexity for when you experience Flow, you want to experience more of it and construct your world to pull you irresistibly towards experiences within the Flow. Focus on these to craft your world:
1) Clarity – Know what you want to do in your life every day. Have clarity of goals, listen to feedback and adjust yourself to the feedback you receive from the world.
2) Center – You are in Balance. Your goal is to focus, to know how to avoid distractions, to become at one with what you’re doing, with all of your attention under your control.
3) Choice – Knowing there are a variety of possibilities around you, that you’re not determined by outside events but have choice and can move within it. Whatever you do, you do “at Choice”.
4) Commitment- Care for what you’re doing at all times. Remain conscious of what you care about. Commit to it.
5) Challenge – Keep upping your challenges as you master a certain level. Always make life more challenging.”