Here’s a made up word that might be a useful tool for you:
“Thoughting” (verb). Def: thinking thoughts that you have previously thought many times before or believing ideas about yourself or the world which are accompanied by negative feelings such as anger, despair, fear, doubt, etc…
Here are some common characteristics:
- “Everyone ALWAYS…” (fill in the blank and insert frustration, distrust, resentment, self-pity)
- “Nobody EVER does ___”
- “The world will always be like _____”
- “I will always be ____”
- “People suck”
- “I’m not good enough”
Thoughting that we tend to revisit over and over again is a very difficult habit to shake — not only because we believe the thoughts, but because there are strong feelings attached.
The accompanying feelings are what make the thoughts so unshakeable. It IS possible to change your mind; you can change what you think — but it becomes impossible to change what you think if there are a lot of feelings accompanying those thoughts.
This is because feelings are much more difficult to change. We can wake up in the middle of a thought and change it. But have you ever tried to change a feeling from rage to peace?
You have to wait for it to subside, for it to let go its grip over you before you can find a feeling of peace.
It’s a vicious cycle: there are feelings attached to the thoughts, but the thoughts you think are driving the feelings, which are cementing the thoughts, which drive the feelings even further.
And so it goes.
Here’s how you can stop this vicious cycle:
First, get some objectivity about this cycle by noticing the thoughts and recognizing the feelings that always accompany them.
And then, once you understand this pattern in yourself then the objectivity about the vicious cycle becomes important and useful; you can notice the pattern beginning, maybe even starting to gain momentum in you, and then have a choice! You can “wake up” to the “thoughting” and choose a new thought instead.
Here’s a real example to demonstrate:
You become acquainted with a common thought/feeling package that shows up when you are let down or disappointed. It sounds like “the important people in my life are so unreliable” and is accompanied by feelings of anger and resentment.
But the more you actually see this “thoughting” in yourself, the easier it becomes to intervene.
That can sound like, “Hey! I know this familiar pattern. This is that “thoughting” habit in me again! And I know where this takes me and it isn’t where I want to go.” That’s the first new thought.
Then many more new thoughts can come which can allow you to change the circumstances or find a creative situation without putting yourself or those you love through hell!
You can change your mind, you know. If you want to.
All our best,
Louisa and Rachel