CALMING YOUR THOUGHTS
OK, so now you are learning to still your mind through breathing exercises. The next step is to gain some control over your thoughts.
Remember – you are the Captain. You must have control over the deckhands on your boat!
WHAT ARE THOUGHTS?
Thoughts are the product of your mind. Thinking is simply one of the things that your mind does. Thoughts can arise out of your current mood or past experiences, and what we think creates our experience. It’s complex. Thoughts create our experiences – and we experience what we think. Your mind can get into the habit of producing thoughts when you are under stress that leave you feeling anxious and depressed.
You may find yourself thinking “I can’t do this”. “I’m useless”. “Everything is falling apart”. “It’s all because of me” Or similar thoughts along the same lines. The sort that leave you feeling upset, worried, anxious, tearful, depressed, worn out.
Thinking these thoughts is perhaps a habit that your mind has got into .
THEY ARE NOT, HOWEVER, TRUE.
RECOGNISE ANY UNHELPFUL THOUGHTS?
Catastrophizing – “This is the worst thing ever” “Nothing will ever be right again”
All or nothing thinking – “If I can’t do this then I don’t think I can cope at all".
“If I can’t cope with this then I’m totally worthless”
Should and Musts – “I must deal with all my feelings on my own” “I should be able to do this”
Look back at your typical thoughts when you respond to stressors. How often might your thoughts fit into these categories? Does it surprise you to realise that we all have thoughts like this sometimes in life?
GET INTO YOUR OBSERVING SELF
Get into your “observing self”. A bit like getting in a helicopter and seeing what is going on in your mind from outside of it and from up in the sky. See what habits your mind has got into.
“My mind is doing its usual thing of coming up with worst-case scenarios.
CHALLENGE YOUR THOUGHTS
" My thoughts are not the truth. They are just thoughts”.
“Is there another way of looking at this issue?”
“Would other people see it in the same way as me?”
APPLY SOME ALTERNATIVE THINKING
What would other people say to you about this concern?
“I don’t have to do this alone – I can ask for support”
IT’S OK TO ASK FOR HELP
You don’t have to do this on your own.
If there are areas of your life where you recognise that your thinking patterns are causing you continuous issues and you feel that you need professional help to change them, that’s OK.