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  • Writer's pictureTroy Faddis, LMFT

Unwanted thoughts? Be more psychological flexible

Unwanted thoughts are an adaptive feature of our minds. We naturally protect ourselves with negative emotions and critical blaming thoughts.

"What can we do to prosper when facing pain and suffering in our lives? More than a thousand studies suggest that a major part of the answer is learning psychological flexibility". - Steven C. Hayes

How to work around unwanted thoughts - Psychological flexibility: How love turns pain into purpose

Most the thoughts running through our mind are critical, blaming and we feel negative. These thoughts and feelings are trying to protect us. They are attempting to keep us from being hurt. However in the long run we start to identify with these thoughts and we see ourselves in these “less than ways”. We learn about these thoughts from IFS, ACT, and the Arbinger Institute. In his recent TedX talk and blog post Dr. Steven C. Hayes, PhD the founder of ACT has outlined five ideas for how to combat unwanted thoughts.

  1. Notice that part of their mind that is most critical and carries the most pain by giving that part of their brain a name. For example “Fred”. “There is Fred again, telling me that I should not trust” or “If I say what I think then I will make it worse, so say nothing”.

  2. Disobey what “Fred” or that part of your brain is telling you to do or believe.

  3. Show appreciation for these parts. Remember that they act only out of wanting to protect you. If you blame or hate them they will not trust you more and want to give you control back.

  4. If you cannot get a thought out of your head then “Sing it” every time that it repeats in your mind.

  5. Write down ruminating thoughts and feelings. Carry them in your pocket or wallet/purse. Tell these thoughts that they can come along for the ride. They are part of the journey of your life but they do not define your life.Try a few of these out and make note of how you think and feel differently.

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