Ever have a troublesome thought that just spins in your head and won’t leave you alone?
If you’re an anxiety sufferer, like me, this probably happens to you more than you care to admit.
It’s like a leech that latches onto your brain and sucks the life out of you.
And that’s the biggest problem with it – it takes you out of your real, actual life and into some soul-destroying story in your head.
It can throw you off your goals…your desires…your purpose…
…and has the power to turn your mood to anywhere between unhappy and a total wreck.
And the worst part is, it’s completely unproductive! Just spinning on a thought does nothing to actually change or resolve the situation you’re worried about. It just makes you feel depleted and powerless.
Here’s the good news: you can learn to manage it.
I specifically don’t use the word “control” because I’m not sure it’s possible to control it – especially if you deal with anxiety. If it is, I haven’t figured it out yet.
But I have gotten better at managing it, so today I want to share my two favorite practices for defusing the power of a painful thought.
- The first step in both of these practices is to simply allow the thought to exist. When you try to resist the thought, it just gets louder and stronger.
- The next step in both practices is to focus on the sensation the thought creates in your body, rather than on the thought itself. It might be a knot in your stomach or tightness in your chest or throbbing in your temples or something else. Whatever it is, put your focus on it.
Now here’s where the two practices diverge.
In the first one, all you’re going to do is watch the sensation.
Just watch the pulsing…the stabbing…the tightening…the twisting without trying to change it. Get curious about it and see if it moves around or changes in any way as you observe it.
Dr. Martha Beck has a great analogy for this: imagine you’re like a scuba diver who’s just watching a school of fish. You wouldn’t be trying to change what the fish are doing or wishing they would behave differently. You’d simply just be observing them with curiosity and fascination.
In my experience, every time I’ve just watched the sensation, it goes away entirely within a short time and the painful thought that started it doesn’t have as much power over me.
If I do get sucked back into my thought, the sensation comes back and I just start watching it again. Try it and see if you find relief!
In the second practice, you’re going to interact more with the sensation. If your painful thought causes multiple sensations throughout your body, start with the one that feels strongest or that wants the most attention.
Then follow these steps:
- Using your index finger, draw a circle around the area where the sensation exists.
- Imagine taking that area out of your body and setting it on a table in front of you.
- Now just get curious, as if you were a scientist studying the phenomenon and reporting on your observations.
- What color is the area?
- What’s its texture? Smooth? Spikey? Rough like sandpaper?
- What’s the consistency of the area? Is it hard like a rock? Thick and gummy – like tar or mud? Slimy and gooey, like mucus?
- How big is it?
- As you watch it, does it change? Is it a different color? Has the texture changed since you’ve been observing it? Has it gotten bigger or smaller?
- Does it have a message for you? Is there something it wants you to know?
- When you’re finished observing it, what do you want to do with it? Do you want to put it back in your body? Do you want to carry it with you in your hands? Do you want to leave it where it is, thank it for the message it gave you, and part ways? You get to decide!
As with the first practice, I think you’ll find that by focusing on the sensations created by your painful thought, rather than on the thought itself, you’ll reduce the power the thought has over you.
If the thought comes up again, just go back to the sensations each time.
I still get hooked by troublesome thoughts. Sometimes hook, line, and sinker.
But the more I practice defusing my thoughts and creating some separation between them and me, the better I get at creating relief for myself.
I hope these practices work for you, too!
And if you really get stuck in a death roll of some painful thoughts, reach out to me for help!
I’ve got several other practices I can walk you through to get you relief, back into your real life, and back to focusing on what matters most to you!
Setup a free Meet & Greet call with me here ⇒ https://soulfireshift.com/coaching
I would love to chat with you!