Minimising the Strength of Repetitive Thoughts
Learn that thinking is useful but it can be predictable… and boring!
You can watch the video or keep reading.
I am quite sure that almost every day you wake up, you will have a ‘story’ playing in your mind about your illness, and about who you are, as a consequence.
That means, you will likely have various thoughts and feelings that just continue to appear in your head, which will likely affect your mood too.
Indeed, if we focus too much on our ‘stories’, it can affect our whole day.
But, so far we have learned that responding differently to the messages from our mind, is about learning how to calm ourselves down first and how to be more aware of the signals / messages of the mind and body.
Then we simply notice, calmly, and without judging, as if from afar.
This helps us to gently ease ourselves out of the urgency of the messages. We learned that in this state, you don’t need to get busy distracting yourself – we learned that we can be safe and okay when we just don’t listen as hard to the messages.
And that this in itself, can free up headspace to do what is more important to us in our life.
Now, remember back in Self-Care activity 2, you wrote down some of your most frequent thoughts, and then you practiced noticing and responding in different ways?
Sometimes though, even when we respond in calm or different ways, the thoughts may continue to ‘play on repeat’. But why?
When messages are particularly harsh, unhelpful or have deeper significance to us, we usually don’t want to acknowledge them, and so it’s very difficult to take any positive or helpful action – simultaneously, we don’t feel like we are doing enough by just noticing them and letting them go.
Perhaps we feel too afraid to think about our fears and problems directly, which is why our brain keeps reminding us of them – our brain thinks it needs to remind us, to protect us.
And so the loop continues. We get a reminder, we don’t want to address it or are tired of it, and this signals to the brain that something *really* needs addressing or to be seen, and then it sends us the reminder.
So let us examine your list a little more closely now. Have you got any other thoughts that just keep ‘playing and playing’ each day?
Add them to your list.
Other people often say:
“Life is hard”;
“Why do I deserve this?”;
“Other people don’t have to suffer like me”;
“I have pain”;
“I want to be able to do more”.
What is interesting about this exercise, is likely that after a point, there will be no more thoughts that you can write down.
You will notice that it is probably the same thoughts that just go round and round each day.
Therefore, we can view it much like a recipe book. You know exactly which ‘ingredients’ to add to make yourself not feel good; likewise, actually knowing the predictability of your thoughts is a great asset.
We now know exactly what will put you into a sad or bad mood.
Today, just imagine being very bored of your thoughts.
Can’t hear it anymore bored.
Understand that you have played these records for a long long time, likely many years now, and it is time to turn it down and play a new record.
If you were to truly practice being bored of all these thoughts, and not really caring at all, what other thoughts might pop into your brain?
Give yourself the time and space to do this.