Breaking unhelpful thinking cycles
Updated: Jul 31, 2020
In other words: would you *please* shut the hell up thoughts? You're driving me insane!
In my previous post, I discussed the power of thoughts. Now that I have hopefully convinced you that our thoughts can have huge impact on how we experience life, what can you do about it? Unhelpful thinking patterns definitely contribute to the experience of poor mental health, for example anxiety and depression. From personal experience, these following tips, when done consistently really help:
1. LABEL THE THOUGHTS
You are not your thoughts or your mind! Realise them for what they are. They are like passing clouds in the sky. In this metaphor, you are the sky. Recognise, this is a bad thought. This is there because I am feeling low/anxious/stressed... but it is NOT true. It's just part of the human experience of being upset.
2. LET IT BE
Let it settle like ripples on water. Don't challenge or argue with them. Meditation and mindfulness is massive help for this. Also, try mentally putting them in a corner, or a personal favourite in a cabinet drawer with chains and a padlock.
3. STAND UP TO IT
Bad thoughts are like bullies, they sound intimidating and strong but really they're weak. Also, they don't know what the hell they're' talking about! Call its bluff. As a veteran now, I like to tell the thoughts off in a incredulous tone with various swear words.
4. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
Honestly, imagine someone else saying to you, some of the stuff you are saying to yourself. Wouldn't you feel the urge to slap them? Also try to think of what you would say to a loved one or what they would say to you. Wouldn't they disagree? *note: this is not a rhetorical question*.
5. RE-FRAME THE SITUATION
Think if your friend came to you with this, what advice would you give them? This helps make your more objective. Looking at from another perspective always helps. Will this matter in a year's time? If that doesn't do the trick, maybe try saying five instead...
In conclusion, I hope you don't let those bullies tell you what to feel and ruin your day. Your mind and thoughts are separate to your identity. Don't let them control you.