Dismissing negative thoughts
The four steps are:
- Change Position
- Change Attitude
- Change Focus
- Practice Mindfulness
In this article we are focusing on the second step in the 4-step method I am showing you. Changing your attitude towards negative thoughts.
The key to making this work is to belittle the internal voice that goes with the negative thought. Replacing that voice with other voices you associate with ridicule. Or, (if you prefer) switching off from the internal voice altogether.
These voices can come from comic characters in movies. TV programs, or cartoons. In the past my clients have selected characters from Disney (Donald Duck is a favourite), Laurel & Hardy, The Simpsons, Friends, Fawlty Towers, Monty Python, The Pink Panther (Clouseau), Dumb and Dumber and Scooby-Doo. But you can pick your own, so long as that voice makes you laugh when you hear it.
How to dismiss a thought
The first is step is to identify the thought that bothers you. We will use a common worry by way of example.
Original thought = “It’s all going to go wrong”
Now take that thought and exaggerate it a little for comic effect.
Edited thought = “It’s going to be a total disaster”
Let’s say your selected voice is Homer Simpson’s:
Homer’s tape: “It’s not only going to be a disaster but it’s going to be on the six o’clock news.”
Rather than using a funny voice to defuse from the thought you can dismiss it using your own voice.
There it goes again. I really don’t have time to listen to this.
Same old same old rubbish. Time to move on.
This is getting boring. I have better things to do.
You can get aggressive about it, too. Anglo-Saxon swear words are especially effective:
What a load of crap!
Switching off from negative thoughts
Finally there are some visualisation techniques you can use to tune out, or switch off. These work especially well if you have a replacement thought ready. For example: ‘The more I practice, the better I get” instead of “I can’t cope with this.”
The Radio station
Imagine that the thought is being replayed to you in your head by the wrong radio station. Visualise pressing a button to change the station. Keep pressing until you hear a different thought, or one of your favourite music tracks.
The TV station
Same as before, except that you are switching channels.
The Conveyor belt
Imagine that the thought is being cycled through your head on a conveyor belt. When you notice it there, press a button to activate the conveyor belt, spinning the old thought spinning back into the machine, while you wait for a better thought to come out.
The next article concentrates on Steps 3 and 4 – Changing Focus and Using Mindfulness.