When you are shopping online, you will know what you are looking for (what product, colour, size, quantity, etc), what your budget is, how urgently you need it and so on. There will be hundreds of items available on that website, but you will add only the required items to the cart. Though the temptation is inevitable, you would not buy anything and everything.
If you give it a thought, doesn’t it work the same way for distressing thoughts too? Instead of loading your mind cart with negative thoughts, you would need to understand if you should buy a particular thought. Is it really true? Can you afford it? Is it going to be helpful?
Imagine you are in a tug of war with unhelpful or anxious thoughts that you can call as
The Mind Monsters. You are on one end of the rope, and the Mind Monster is on the other end. There is a huge pit in the centre. You are pulling away as hard as you can, but the monster keeps pulling you closer to the pit, making it hard for you to hold back.
The more you pull, the monster too pulls it harder making you feel stuck. Don’t you think the best thing to do would be to just drop the rope? Meaning to say, you are no longer in struggle with distressing thoughts, instead you logically think, focus on important things that matter to you and understand how to deal with the thoughts that bog you down.
It is difficult to fight with The Mind Monsters. The monsters need food to survive and it feeds on our reactions to distressing thoughts; i.e., we believe in distressing thoughts, become upset by them, and react automatically and unthinkingly. On the other hand: if we try to just ignore or fight with it, it can help for a while but may keep coming back; either of which will only worsen situations for us and, will, interfere with our normal functioning.
The distressing thoughts keep recurring. They consume all our energy, become more and more unhelpful and destructive. They cause us to have negative, self-defeating feelings such as low self-esteem, fright, stress, helplessness, worthlessness, etc. They then prevent us from doing things we wish we could and would do, thereby holding us back from living the life we want to.
When we stop feeding the monsters, they become weaker and weaker, and eventually die. The monsters will come back again. But we can choose not to feed them by changing the way we look at things, changing our reactions and paying attention to our strengths, our priorities and our responsibilities.
Kill them; the Mind Monsters
- Rejecting or running away from distressing thoughts doesn’t work, FACE IT. Have confidence in yourself. Take a closer look at what your fears/thoughts are. This will give you clarity and what you can do about it.
“Trying to push a thought away only adds fuel to the fire. When we tell ourselves not to think of something, it leads to a rebound effect, making the thought even stronger,” says Kevin Hyde, Psychologist. It is important to acknowledge it.
- ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS. This will get you to realize that the Mind Monsters might not be real. They can just be snippets of your imagination and have nothing to do with your reality, or you are too tired or overworked, and that negativity is clouding your mind.
Spend 5 minutes of your time to acknowledge the things that are around you; this way you are keeping your mind in the present moment and not getting carried away by intrusive thoughts.
- Negative things grab our attention more than the positive ones. This is natural, but it needs to be balanced out with some conscious effort at CHOOSING THE POSITIVE ELEMENTS.
Focus your thoughts on your strengths, on something that is productive and important to you; something that concerns your today rather than replaying past events or worrying about your tomorrow. Ask yourself if the monsters bothering you now, will matter after 2 years or even 2-3 weeks. The answer is most likely to be a NO. Hence you will know how to better expend your energy.
- TALK ABOUT IT. LET IT OUT. Keeping the distressing thoughts all bottled up will make it difficult for you. Talk about your situation with someone you trust or a professional.
When you feel that the Mind Monsters are not letting you function to your fullest abilities, just venting out your thoughts with someone can give you a new perspective to your thoughts/situation. A professional can help you to figure out alternate ways of coping. You can together chart out an action plan to deal with the monsters and recharge yourself.
AUTHOR: Prathima, Associate Counsellor
Tried the LeanonMe COUNSELLING APP?
Download now, register and chat anonymously with professional counsellors from Monday thru Friday (10 am to 6 pm). THE FIRST SESSION IS FREE! Google Play | App Store