Mind control for negative thoughts
Mind control is an essential skill if you are to exercise control over your negative thoughts.
Consider thoughts like these.
- The chatterbox in your head with a stream of negative comments.
- Worries and catastrophic predictions
- Panicky thoughts
- Guilt and shame
- Obsessional thoughts
- Perfectionistic thoughts
- Harsh self-judgments
This article explores a simple technique that was originally developed by Roger Vittoz in the 1920s.
A simple technique for banishing negative thoughts
As a psychotherapist I am always on the look out for mind control techniques that can assist my clients. I came across this one – the Vittoz technique – while reading a biography of the poet T. S. Eliot and I was reminded that Eliot had, in fact, had a nervous breakdown in the early 1920s, whilst working on The Wasteland. He recovered in a sanatorium in Lausanne under the supervision of Dr Roger Vittoz, who treated anxiety by teaching his patients mind control techniques developed by himself.
His premise was that anxious people have lost control of their own minds, paying unwarranted attention to negative ideas. When they learn how to edit out negative words, memories, images and statements and replace it with new content they get back control. Many of his exercises seem quite trivial at first but if you practice doing them every day for, say, a few weeks, the accumulative effect is to put you back in charge. And I can vouch from personal observation that some of the exercises work very quickly indeed.
One of them works like this:
Write out a worry statement. For example:
I CAN’T COPE WITH OTHER PEOPLE
Now imagine that you are flashing up each letter on a screen, one by one, until you have the complete statement.
Now delete each letter of the statement one-by-one, working backwards. Until you end up with the first four letters:
Next, you replace the first statement with something more empowering. For example:
I CAN LEARN HOW TO COPE BETTER
And then you ‘flash’ each letter of that statement up on the screen until it is complete. Look at the statement for a few moments, and then decide on one thing you can do in order to act on it right now. For example, you might make a phone call to someone you find difficult.
Like all such techniques, it works on repetition. So practice it daily. It worked for T.S. Eliot, who recovered from his breakdown and recommended Vittoz’s sanatorium to others.
If you would like a free copy of the English translation of Vittoz’s book on mind control – How to Control Your Brain at Will then you can download it here.