3 Ways To Separate From Your Negative Thoughts
Have you heard of fusion? Like fusing two pieces of metal together?
Did you know that the human brain can fuse thoughts together and create stories?
They don’t have to make sense, and they most times they can be negative.
In the book, The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris, Harris explains that "in a state of fusion, it seems as if:
Thoughts are reality- what we're thinking is actually happening, here and now.
Thoughts are the truth- we completely believe them.
Thoughts are important- we take them seriously and give them our full attention.
Thoughts are orders- we automatically obey them.
Thoughts are wise- we assume they know best, and we follow their advice.
Thoughts can be threats- some thoughts can be deeply disturbing or frightening, and we feel the need to get rid of them."(1)
When we recognize that we have fused to thoughts or stories in our head, it’s good to build awareness and begin to practice DEFUSION.
Defusion is when we recognize that thoughts are simply words or mini stories, they aren't orders, they may or may not be wise. With defusion, we pull ourselves away from our thoughts and see them exactly as they are-- "a string of words."
Remember, when trying these techniques, you don't want to get rid of the thought, but you want to see the thought for what it is.
A few ways to defuse from our thoughts that I have used include:
Is this thought helpful? Is this thought true? Do I have cold hard facts to back up this thought? Will this thought bring me closer to who I want to become?
NAME THE STORY
“This is the story where I blame myself for saying something stupid at work”
Hey look, it's the "I'm a failure" story
Once you've acknowledged the story, let it be as you do something you love like reading, painting, gardening. Remember, it's just words.
PUT A SILLY VOICE TO THE THOUGHT like Mickey or Minnie, Donald Duck...
This makes the thought or series of thoughts less serious. Practice saying the negative thought with your voice, then with the silly voice, and finally with your voice again. What happens? How does the same thought affect you?
My [personal] most used technique is asking if the thought I’m having is helpful. Will this thought bring me closer to the person I want to become? If the answer is no, this thought is not helpful, I’ll accept that and bring myself back to the present moment.
I even ask myself questions if I’m craving sweets or want a second helping— “will this food I’m about to eat satisfy me?” Of the answer is no, I remind myself that food is abundant and I can have the sweets or second helping another time.
This exercise has helped me defuse negative thought loops numerous times. Sometimes it works and sometimes it takes more work. And I’ll be honest, sometimes that loop pulls me in.
It’s important to remember that this takes practice figuring out which technique works best for you.
Which one will you try? Let me know which one resonates with you!
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(1) Harris, Russ. The Happiness Trap. Page 39