Tool of the Day:
Cognitive defusion is an extremely effective tool for managing unhelpful thoughts.
When we’re stuck on an unhelpful thought, we are fused with it. Imagine putting your hand over your face, so that you can’t see anything but your hand. If you can de-fuse from your hand – pull it back so it’s a foot in front of your face – your hand is no longer the only thing you can see.
It’s the same with thoughts. When we get stuck in a thought, it’s all we can “see.” We can’t get distance from it to be able to see the other thoughts that are trying to get our attention. We can’t switch our focus.
To de-fuse from our thoughts, we have to get some distance from them and see them as just thoughts. We have to remind ourselves that they are not truths. We have to remind ourselves that we have thousands of thoughts a day and this one is not the be-all-end-all just because it’s sticky.
There are many defusion techniques. Here are 5 to get you started:
1. Say the thought out loud in a silly voice 5 times or sing it to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”
(This helps it lose its power.)
2. Say this: “I am having the thought that ______________. I notice I’m having the thought that ____________.”
(This gives you one or two degrees of separation from the thought.)
3. Write the thought down. Then write three things you are grateful for.
(This provides the sticky thought a place to go and moves your focus to something specific.)
4. Thank your brain for producing this thought and then decide whether to put it in your mental Inbox or Spam folder.
Imagine putting this thought in the correct folder, and then move on to doing that with the next thought that shows up.
(This reminds you that you are in charge of attributing worth to thoughts.)
5. Imagine watching your thoughts float by like leaves on a stream.
Practice not picking up any one leaf/thought. Practice letting it float on by and then looking for the next leaf/thought, and the next.
(This helps you learn how not to fuse with the thought in the first place.)