Ever noticed that sometimes no matter how hard you try to not think or worry or plan ahead, you just can’t stop! As a mental health professional, I have found it to be quite common that people can logically understand where thoughts, feelings, and emotions are coming from, but then get stuck in thinking about them. The problem with this is we become hijacked by thoughts that continue to make us feel the feelings we are trying to heal from. An example I have been experiencing is with shame and guilt especially on days when I wanted to sit, relax and not do anything. I would then start to have thoughts about whether or not it was justified that I could sit and do nothing, then it would switch to thoughts of times when I was younger and told I was lazy for doing nothing, and then it would go to other thoughts about how I could do something and still be relaxing, which ultimately lead to me doing something and pretending I was relaxing. Can you see how through my thoughts I intensified the feelings of shame and guilt, ultimately resulting in my thoughts controlling how I spent my day.
I have also found in my life that getting these thoughts to stop can be a difficult task, as the natural way to combat them is to think your way through them. Which again just involves more thinking. We all have inner personalities or beliefs that present themselves throughout our lives, and most of the negative ones are usually unconscious. These negative beliefs then control our lives like a computer virus can control programs from the background. Until the negative belief is identified, we cannot even combat it! Then once it is identified you still must remove it from your running program. That is where these tips come into play! The goal is to regain your power by taking it away from your mind or thinking and observing how it impacts your body and emotions. For more information on how to connect to your body to acknowledge your emotions click here.
1. Ground Yourself With Other Senses
Find a comfortable and safe place outside, close your eyes, and check in with your other senses. What do you hear, smell, taste, and touch/feel on your skin? I recommend tapping into whatever sense is most present. For example, sometimes when I close my eyes the songs of the birds instantly grabs my attention, where as other times the feel of the warm sun shining engulfs me. If you should notice that nothing stands out and you’re still thinking, then begin a checklist where you actively find something to hear, smell, taste, and touch. Continue to go through the checklist until you feel back in control of this moment. You can include the sense of sight, but be aware that this is the most over used sense.
2. Become the Director
Becoming the Director can help you “re-write” the program that is playing in your mind. From the example I used above about feeling shame and guilt for being lazy, one way that I combatted it was by changing the memories/thoughts of being lazy as a bad thing to a time when I was sitting doing nothing and my kids then entertained me with things they wanted me to see them do. This changed the feelings of shame to moments of opportunity for joy to come into my life.
3. Embrace the Role of Observation
Most people are not aware that we are more than just thoughts and feelings. We actually have the ability to control what we want to think, the perspective we are looking through, and the feelings that we chose to feel. Most people will disagree with this statement, as they have spent most of their lives a victim to them, never knowing they can rise above their control. By embracing the role of observer, you are not controlled by them. This may be a hard topic to grasp from one blog post, so for more information or help with learning this, please contact me by click here or email me at [email protected]. By realizing that we are having thoughts and seeing the emotions that are created inside of us, we then begin to have control over allowing those thoughts to continue or not. Again going back to my example at the beginning, I have a negative core belief of not being good enough. As I had thoughts that perpetuated the feelings of guilt and shame, stepping into the observer role allows me to connect this to my negative core belief of not being good enough. At that time, since I have done a lot of work on stopping this negative core belief, I am able to laugh and say I know it isn’t true based on facts from the past that prove to me that I am good enough.
4. Challenge a New Perspective
When stuck in unpleasant thoughts and feelings, taking time to evaluate a new perspective can help break the narrow-mindedness of the thought. It forces you to “think outside of the box” and look for new angles. This allows you to combat the narrow thought with other options for more pleasant feelings to enter. An example a client gave me of this is the thought of being trapped at home having to work and not feeling like there is a home/work life balance. She was able to change her perspective to identify she had an hour to an hour and a half more to her day that she wasn’t spending in traffic. She was then consciously aware of the time she could give herself in the morning, whether it was sleeping in, enjoying her coffee on the patio, or laughing and talking with her husband. In the evening, she would incorporate walking the dogs, going for a bike ride, taking a shower, or something that would conclude the work day and allow her to let go of the stress of the day. Broadening your perspective allows you to insert other options that break the thought-feeling cycle you feel stuck in.
5. Get Someone Else’s Point of View
Since we know that thoughts can be consuming and narrow-focused, it makes sense to rely on someone else’s point of view to provide alternative perspectives. Sometimes it is a friend or family member, which can be helpful or not helpful depending on each individual’s experience. Utilizing a professional can be beneficial, as they are usually trained in listening non-judgmentally and reflecting thoughts and feelings you may not be aware of. For a list of resources click here.
6. Heal Childhood Hurt
This can happen in many different ways, and it is recommended that you work with a professional if you are new to working with your inner child. As children we learn things, usually intentionally but often unintentionally, that impact how we see ourselves and the world around us. Most of the time disruptions in our adult life are directly related to a situation in our childhood that is conflicting with thoughts and feelings we are experiencing as an adult. Due to the disconnect, we are not able to make sense of it and heal, which leads to us recreating the same themes through out our lives. By looking at these memories with curious eyes, we are able to make the connection, heal the wounds created, and feel empowered to make the necessary changes we want to see in our lives.
7. Accept Your Divine Self
You may be thinking, “How in the world does this tie into stopping thinking?” Well that is a great question! By utilizing the previous steps you begin to notice that you are more that just thoughts and feelings. These are things that we experience as humans, but they are not what controls us or defines us. We have the ability to be the CEO of our lives. Most CEO’s will observe what is happening to gain insight, will meet with other employees to look through other perspectives, challenge how things play out by creating multiple ways things can play out, and by grounding themselves to free thoughts and feelings of fear, worry, shame, and guilt. This allows us to make decisions to move forward in a way aligned with our greatest good.
In case you didn’t find what you were looking for, there are many thought-stopping techniques available online, click here to be connected to a search. As you allow yourself to take back control of your life, the possibilities of what you can create become clearer. Utilize this time of uncertainty to take back control and fill your blank slate with what you want!
Crystal Deichert LPC, of Positive Assist, offers a full suite of counseling and holistic services for those wishing to get unstuck and move forward in their lives. She is trained in several evidence-based modalities and holistic approaches to help her clients see their barriers through their soul’s perspective allowing them to break free and fly. If you’d like to discover your true self, you can schedule a free consultation at www.crystaldeichert.com, by calling 720.767.1994, or emailing [email protected]. Check me out on Facebook at Crystal Deichert LPC