Thoughts: Outsmart Your Brain!
Sometimes thoughts pop into our head that we don't want. They can be very distressing. As we always say on Wakey: Thoughts are not facts.
Thoughts can be helpful (like "I can do anything I put my mind to")
Or unhelpful ("There's no point in trying I'll only mess it up").
This week we will be looking at how to manage unhelpful thoughts.
We call the unhelpful type of thinking we do when we are feeling down or anxious rumination. Rumination is one of the most important ways we spiral into depression or chronic anxiety.
There are broadly 2 ways we can deal with unhelpful thoughts - or rumination - when they come:
We can practice bringing our attention somewhere else (like in mindfulness)
Or we can challenge or reframe our thinking.
Practice noticing when you experience strong negative emotion. Take a deep breath and bring yourself back into the room.
Then notice the thoughts that are happening. They are often invisible at first.
Now we can decide to
reframe - or think differently about the situation
or bring our attention elsewhere and distract
Reframing means seeing a thought or situation through a different lens. A more helpful or positive lens.
Remember: Thoughts are not true or false they are just helpful or unhelpful.
Rephrase the thought from an opinion to a fact
e.g. from "I can't do this so I'm worthless" to "I can't do this. I have never been taught how to do this. I can learn."
The second way to deal with distressing thoughts (rumination) or emotions is to observe without reacting and then bring attention elsewhere. This is a mindfulness skill.
Again when it happens take a deep breath, notice and observe the thought (or emotion) like an interested scientist.
Then decide to bring attention elsewhere - breathing exercise, something enjoyable and distracting etc.
Thoughts are like bullies - if you don't give in to them they give up and go away.