Herewith a few thoughts and ideas about a helpful ‘thinking skill’ to put into practice if we’re thinking our way into trouble more often than is good for us: changing our relationship with our thoughts.
What to do if we find ourselves thinking in unhelpful, negative ways, catastrophising, beating ourselves up, obsessing over things we have no control over, having anxious thoughts more often than we’d like, part-time or full-time? If it is a regular occurrence, or a recurring theme – “I always get it wrong”; “I’m no good”; “Others are better than me”; “I don’t like myself”; “I’m useless”; “Things are going to go wrong for me”; “I can never achieve” and so on – changing your relationship with your thoughts is a great way of ‘turning the volume down’, getting some distance from worrisome thoughts, and getting some control over how we might be feeling as a result of this kind of thinking.
This is a way of treating thoughts for what they are: manufactured and created by us, opinions, not facts. If we can acknowledge and accept that fact, we can go on to create alternative and different opinions of ourselves, perspectives on situations etc which are more helpful. Not easy of course if we’re struggling and/or we’ve been thinking our way into trouble for some time.
Reminding ourselves that ‘I am not my thoughts’, and that they’re separate to me, is a good start here.
It requires us to adopt a mindful attitude, and one we can find with mindfulness meditation, of for example letting our thoughts come and go, observing them “I just had the thought that ‘Things never work out’”etc., and not ‘fusing’ with them, or connecting with them, not accepting them as incontrovertible truths.
Just acknowledging and accepting that we are separate from our thoughts, and that we can manage them, rather than the other way around is likely to be helpful for us, especially if our thinking is preventing us making the most ourselves and situations.