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Easy thinking

One of the things I work on a lot with clients in my therapy practice is learning to hold their thoughts more lightly. We often can fuse with our thoughts, and have the same thought running over and over in our minds, even when it is not helpful. As it is 20 degrees in Greenwich today and expected to get into the teens, I keep thinking I hate cold weather and I wish I lived in California instead of Connecticut. While all of this is true and my feelings about northeast weather are very valid, it is not helpful for me to engage with those thoughts.

So what can we do?

One strategy I often talk about is reframing thoughts. Is there a way to turn this thought around? Maybe I can think of other alternative thoughts. Can I look at this in an alternative way, and find another thought that is as true, or maybe even more true, than the previous thought. Maybe: I need to learn to dress warmer so I don't hate the cold so much, or The cold makes me appreciate the summers more or I need more hygge in my life and embrace the cold or This is an excellent excuse to make hot cocoa, bake cookies, and watch a movie/read a book. When I look at these thoughts, I can find some truth in all of them. Thinking of it this way makes me less upset about the cold weather. Do you see how this works?

Another strategy is just letting thoughts go. Every time your mind throws a thought at you, you get to decide whether you engage with the thought or not. If it is not helpful to engage with a thought, you have the choice to just... let it go. Thoughts can go in and out of your mind like clouds in the sky. You can notice a thought and let it drift by without believing, judging it, or reacting to it. This may seem strange at first, but gets easier with practice. Mindfulness meditation, and specifically this meditation, can be helpful in training your mind to not get caught up with thoughts.

Every time I try this exercise, I find new thoughts and perspectives, and a new path forward. It is amazing how something as small as a thought can be incredibly powerful. Think about the times that you got stuck on thought, which brought a cascade of emotions and behaviors.


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