Have you ever experienced a sudden wave of negative thoughts entering your mind? Some of these thoughts then linger on, becoming unpleasant chatters in your mind for hours or days. Its like a built-in Radio Station broadcasting negative noises, audible only to you.
Some incidents, news or conversations may have triggered the sudden surge. Or these thoughts are from your subconscious mind that have finally decided to make a lively group appearance, They play in your mind, then permuted and later expanded. Very noisy.
These noises can be disruptive, when they pull our attention away from things we are working on. They may hook us and reel our minds away from more important things..Time is wasted.
The noisy chatters may even drain our energy if we give enough attention to each. Our emotions may even be affected too. Risking to trigger off anger, sadness, anxiety, regret, resentment, hopelessness or frustration. Some of these emotions may impact the way we interact with others, with typical consequences.
For the lucky ones, mental noises may fade away gradually as time passes. For some, these noises are regular visitors popping in and out as they please. Unfortunately for some, the noises stay on and become chronic. Affecting important aspects of their life especially career, social life and relationships.
Some thoughts could be past memories or something which are worrying us in the future. Some are self-bashing – “i’m stupid, i’ll screw things up, i’ll make a fool of myself, i’ll make a mistake, i’ll fail, i’m a bumbling fool, i’m slow, i’m hopeless, i’m an embarrassment, i’m weak, i’m ugly, I’m not good enough, i’ll be rejected“.
If self-bashing thoughts go on for years, it will eat away our confidence and self-esteem. Consequently, we will not be able to see our potentials, depriving us from opportunities. We will remain boxed in our miserable zone, better known as comfort zone. Do something about this now.
Let’s explore how to reduce these mental noises
Our main focus in this particular article are on thoughts, that are made of words – not images and not feelings. Check out the self-bashing examples above. We will cover visual images and feelings another time.
Thousands of thoughts come and go whenever they please everyday. The debate is ongoing among Researchers about where thoughts come from. For now, many agree that thoughts are coming from the mid-brain. Researchers pointed out that we can’t control or get rid of the thoughts. It is a built-in natural defense mechanism for humans. There is no on-off switch for thoughts. Nothing can stop the thoughts that floats in and out.
If we try to suppressed or ignore the thoughts, they will come back with a vengeance. When we struggle or debate with our own thoughts, we are giving too much attention to it. One of it will hook us.
So what can we do about the unwanted, bothering thoughts?
Researchers propose us to do 2 main things :
- ACCEPTANCE – accept the fact that thoughts will come and go as they please
- DEFUSE – distance the thoughts to tame it and to lower its intensity
With ACCEPTANCE, we admit unwanted thoughts are natural and we can’t get rid of them. We can only tame them and let it pass by. The main objective of DEFUSE is to take away our time and energy from entertaining those unwanted thoughts. Lowering its intensity.
Here’s how to DEFUSE our built-in Negative FM Radio Station .
- Observe and Label – oh here’s the “i’m an idiot” thought again. Label it playfully. Not sarcastically.
- Ask ourselves – is this thought helpful to me for my future. If not, get back to paying attention with what you’re doing.
- Get engrossed – stay focus on what you’re doing. Let the thoughts be on the background.
- Brain rejuv – After waking up, while sitting down take at least 10 deep breath. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
- Positive Affirmation – Say your favorite motivational statement
- Positive Friends – Hang out among positive friends
The very least, any time a negative thought visits you, ask this question. “I am having the thought of “I’m a failure“. Is this thought useful for my future? if not, I have more important things to do.”.
In another example. “I am having the thought of “I’m not good enough”. Is this thought useful to my future? If not, I have more important things to do.
Notice the effect of labeling and questioning the thought. We are observing it as a third party, a visitor. Putting a distance to it.
Remember. The minimum you can do is to ask yourself, ” I am having the thought of …… Is this thought helpful?”
Practice the DEFUSE exercise everyday. And share your experience.