Take a sticky thought.
A really typical one for many of us is: “I’m not good enough.” It shows up in a myriad of ways – our minds have endless creativity for different versions of this one!
Here’s an exercise from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy that can help. Write out a short list of the thoughts your mind likes to give you. Maybe pick out less toxic ones to begin with so that you don’t get sucked in to them right away. Read through them, take a little time. NOTICE what feelings show up as you read the list. Notice any urges to avoid and push the feelings away or the automatic instinct to ruminate on the thoughts. Focus on the thought that has the most heaviness to it; that feels like it’s the truth. Notice all the extra evaluations the mind will offer you about this!
Then try this: In front of the thought write “I’m having the thought”. Then read the whole sentence again. What does that do to the “truthness” of the statement? Does it have less weight or open up the possibility of different interpretations? Does the urgency of the thought lessen? Notice what the mind wants to do with this information; all the new layers of evaluation it will offer you.
Now, add in front of the sentence, the words “I notice that…” So now there will be a statement that reads “I notice that i’m having the thought that…..”
What does THAT do to the quality of the thought? To its gravity and solidity? What do you notice? Perhaps it feels like there’s more distance between you and the thought? A wider perspective of alternative possibilities? What’s important is not how much belief there is in the thought, but how helpful and how workable the thought is. Is there less sense of entanglement with the thought? After-all, if it is you that is noticing the thought and can notice all of the different aspects of your life that surround the thought…..then, it stands to reason – if it is you that can notice it, you may not be the same thing as the thought. Try it out over the next few days and see what you notice. Post your response…