How I Got Out of My Own Head: 4 Steps to Mental Clarity

Matt Wilson
January 16, 2024

Ubud, Bali

Bali, Indonesia has taught me an incredible amount about life since my first trip in 2012.

I’ve written articles about it in years past, “What Bali Taught Me About Life” and “4 Things I’ve Learned Living and Working in Paradise.”  

I’ve studied at the Yoga Barn, climbed Bali’s tallest volcano during a meteor shower, and been invited to ceremonies in the homes of some of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

If you’ve read the first six articles in this series, you’ll understand the importance of having a perspective change and how traveling abroad was the perfect shock to my system to get me out of my own little world in New York.  

Even though most New Yorkers believe they are at the center of the universe and a large majority believe the world revolves around them, I finally learned this to be untrue.

Here’s How I Learned to Get Out of My Own Head

During my fight to overcome stress and anxiety, being uprooted and warped to a place like Bali was exactly the ego-fuck I needed.

Whoa, not everyone is in a hurry all the time?

Whoa, people can survive on very little and still have a smile on their face?

Whoa, people have habits and rituals that make them more grateful?

Now, I’d be doing you a complete injustice telling you that getting out of your head was as easy as booking a trip and hopping on an airplane. But it helps...  

Yoga, meditation, travel, cleaner eating habits, spending time in nature…the list of all the things I’ve done to detach from my thoughts and have greater control of my emotions is extensive. 

You can listen to my podcast on business, travel, health and performance for more on all these topics.

4 Steps to Mental Clarity

While things like yoga, meditation, and travel can help you actually experience inner peace, I was completely unaware that detachment from my thoughts was even possible.  

Sure, you could hop into a sensory deprivation tank or sit with a shaman on a psychedelic journey, but it’d probably be helpful to understand what you are going after.

Step 1: Observe

So, it’s hard for you to sit for even five minutes without the stimulation of your Facebook newsfeed or iMessage alerts? Just observe.

Are you stressed out about work or angry at people who hurt you? Just take note.

Is your mind wandering, wondering why you are wasting time even trying to be mindful? That’s okay. Watch those thoughts.

I’m not just talking about when you are sitting on your yoga mat. You can observe your mind when you are driving in your car, when you are supposed to be listening to someone, or when you are washing the dishes.

It helps me quite a bit to visualize myself as a character in a movie from a third person perspective. 


Step 2: Understand it’s normal

Guess what? 

Everyone around you is struggling to get out of their own head. It’s perfectly freakin’ normal.  

The chick next to you in class, the asshole in traffic, your overbearing mother-in-law…they are all struggling with their own repetitive thoughts, ego, fears, and mental chatter.

What’s the most masochistic advice I ever got about a set of thoughts I couldn’t let go of every time I went to practice yoga? Keep observing them until they were gone.

I did. And they’re gone.

Hint: it gets really boring after a while to hear the same thoughts over and over again.

Step 3: Know that shit ain’t you

So you’ve identified your thoughts... “I’m fat, I’m broke, and I have a small pecker.”

You’ve started to understand it’s normal…There are a lot of guys in the fat, broke, small dick club.

Now, I’d like to you to grasp that your weight, the digits in your bank account, or your pipe laying abilities, aren’t who you really are.

Superficial things may be what society has told us are important, but we are trying to develop our own belief systems and values here, rather than adopting the ones modern day culture has impressed upon us.

The key here is to try to separate your thoughts and chatter of your mind from who you really are.  

I want to stay pragmatic and actionable, rather than get too philosophical, so don’t get too hung up conceptualizing the idea that “you are not your thoughts.” If you want more on this I suggest reading anything by Eckhart Tolle or Thich Nhat Hanh.

Maybe it’ll help to think of yourself as a television...the channel you are watching just happens to be what’s playing. In the same way, your negative thought patterns aren’t you.

Step 4: Change the channel

Why did travel work so well for me when I wanted to change the channel?

When I left my environment living on Wall Street, the sirens blaring, the shallow dating scene, and the next big thing I was chasing all disappeared.  

Suddenly, the channel I was watching was focused on the serenity of tropical forests, a culture that seemed to value kindness, and signs of gratitude everywhere.

When I started to replace negativity in my life by being around positive people, doing things I enjoy, reading personal development books, and becoming part of communities who supported me, all of the sudden it was like watching a completely different movie.

It was like watching the doom and gloom news everyday to watching an inspirational film on Nat Geo or the Discovery Channel.  

If you are struggling to detach from your thoughts, start surrounding yourself with people who have thoughts like the ones you’d like to think.  

Change the channel of your life.

Choose audiobooks over Nikki Manaj lyrics.  

Binge on TED Talks next time you want to Netflix and chill.

Feed your mind good stuff.

You won’t regret it.

For more inspiration listen to 80+ episodes of the Live Different Podcast, or read my first six articles in this series on how travel changed my life.

Want to join me on a trip? Come with me to Peru for our Yoga and Machu Picchu trip!

Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson is Co-founder of Under30Experiences and Author of The Millennial Travel Guidebook: Escape More, Spend Less, & Make Travel a Priority in Your Life. He is host of the Live Different Podcast, Millennial Travel Podcast, and formerly Co-founder of He is committed to helping people live more adventurous lives.


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