Do you ever find yourself thinking the same negative thoughts over and over again? Do they pop up and shift your day from good to bad or bad to worse? In the therapy world this is described as Cognitive Fusion, or the notion that our thoughts are facts. When we “fuse” with our thoughts it can be problematic, especially when what we’re thinking isn’t serving us in a healthy way. ‘Cognitive Defusion’ describes the opposite of this, where we’re able to pull away from our thoughts before they take hold. Here are a few tips to take control of your thinking and create space between you and unhelpful thinking patterns.
1. Just notice.
By saying out loud or in your mind “I’m having the thought of” followed by the specific thought you’re having, you create a healthy distance from that thought, thereby releasing some of its power.
2. Use a visualization that is helpful to you.
When a thought pops up that is causing you to have stress, anxiety, worry, etc., picture it outside of your mind. This could be as a pop up window on your computer screen, or a cloud passing by in the sky. Using a visualization like this can help you separate yourself from this passing thought, allowing you to become an observer of your thought, rather than getting tangled up inside of it.
3. “Name” the thought or story you’re telling yourself.
For example, “There’s the ‘I’m not good enough story’ coming up again. This may help you notice and eventually re-write some of those stories that keep yourself in constant defense mode.
Try using one of these techniques the next time an unhelpful thought tries to take hold of you. Notice if creating some distance from it can help you manage it better.
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