There are times when try as we might, we cannot stop thinking about something that makes us feel awful. Thoughts like these can be incredibly detrimental to our mental state. Since our mind controls our body and our personal reality, it is very important that we learn to manage these negative thoughts.
Thoughts like these are often like a chronic pain. We know what is wrong, we know what it’s about but try as we might we can’t stop ourselves from reliving them. A chronic pain is like this, the injury is known and we are trying to fix the physical problem but the pain, even though it has done its job of warning us, won’t stop. We must therefore use other methods to stop these thoughts that are no longer in any way helpful.
A very good way to do this is to manipulate that mental image (thought). Our minds can be said to work very much like a tv or movie screen, or perhaps it would be better to say that our tv’s and movie screens are designed to work just like our minds. If we change some of the ways we experience this troublesome thought in our heads, we can completely change our reaction to it.
For example lets imagine that you keep having a recurring thought of you having a bad accident and try as you might you can’t seem to be able to stop yourself from thinking this thought. Instead of trying to get yourself to forget, as it were, you could instead change the way that you experience this thought in your mind instead.
When you experience this thought you most likely see yourself, in your mind’s eye, experiencing this event over and over again. Instead just letting this thought happen, you do have the ability to catch yourself in the act of having this thought. All you have to do is to be mentally vigilant and pay attention to your emotions so that when you feel awful, you will know that you are most likely experiencing this negative recurring thought in your mind.
When you are able to catch yourself as you are experiencing this dream, begin to change the way you represent this thought to yourself. You most likely will find that in your thought you are right there in the middle of it all reliving something. That therefore is the first thing that you must change; instead of being right in the thought situation experiencing everything as it happens, imaginatively remove yourself from the situation. This changes your perspective so that you are no longer an actor in your thought but a bystander watching the thought from far away.
Secondly distance yourself from the thought. Instead of being a bystander watching something that is right in front of you, imagine that this screen that you are watching this thought in moves ten feet away from you. You should be able to feel a big difference in your emotional state. You have gone from being immersed in a situation, in your mind’s eye, to being a spectator watching this situation, and then to having this mental screen that you are watching the situation on move ten feet away from you.
If this is not enough to lower the amount of pain that you feel from this thought then try to make this mental image black and white. Also lower any sound in the thought, you can even turn off all sound if you like. Turn off any feeling that you are experiencing during this thought, you have the power to imaginatively do this now. And finally you can make this thought image move away from you even farther than ten feet. It can move away from you farther and farther so that it gets smaller and smaller until it disappears from your view. How do you feel now?
If you do the exercise correctly, you will find that this thought is no longer so painful or troubling. The trick here is to do the above every time that you catch yourself having the thought. You might say, “I just had it, can’t go back to it now”. But this is what you will be really doing every time since catching yourself in the act is really stopping the thought. This is ok though, just look back at what you were just thinking and use all the techniques above to remove and diffuse the bad thought. Just try and do it right after having this thought.
You will have to do this every time that you have this thought. There are times when you will have to do this many times a day, maybe even an hour, but keep at it. In a lot shorter time than you might imagine, you will reprogram yourself out of this thought pattern and you will naturally find yourself thinking of other things. When you find yourself thinking of other things, go with this flow. Let your mind follow a different path and you will be free from this negativity in no time.