Use Mindfulness To Stop Runaway Cycles Of Negative Thinking
Many of us live our lives on autopilot. We exist day to day programmed like an automaton and never consider the choices we have. We let our old habits dominate what we do and what we think. We have walked down the same familiar well worn path for so long that we assume this is what life is all about. We unwittingly accept it and do not believe that it can be better or different. We can become so entrenched in our habitual patterns that we do not even realize that we are not living but are only surviving.
If thoughts of peace and serenity are the goal, where are you now? We all have moments when life events disturb our inner world. Depending on what it is, we may be able to naturally emotionally regulate and quickly recover our composure, thus returning to our normal healthy and happy state. At other times, situations can set something off within us that we may find difficult if not impossible to shake off. If your inner world is in disarray, you will never be content or happy. If you think about it, when you are caught up in cycle of worry or rumination you are bogged down living with an internal world filled with pain, shame, self-criticism or judgment. You are not happy. You are hurting.
Many trauma survivors, when triggered, reflexively get caught up in a runaway cycle negative thinking. Their inner child’s deep seated fears and insecurities may come center stage and end up running the show. Their bodies and mind may be unable to rest because they are stuck in a stress response, fight, flight, freeze or fawn.
Mindfulness & Healing The Out Of Control Mind
It is in these challenging moments that healing can occur. The trick? Paying attention to what is going on inside. The act of raising our awareness to our inner world is called ‘mindfulness’. Mindfulness, by default, puts us into the present moment. It helps us to stop over thinking and draws our attention back to what is going on in the here and now. This simple change can literally transform you from the inside out.
As you begin to focus your time and attention on yourself you may start to detect patterns of negative thoughts invading your inner world. Our runaway disparaging thinking can unequivocally impact our ability to moderate our emotional pain and inhibit our ability to emotionally regulate. When we indulge in unhealthy thinking we reinforce our negative feelings about ourselves which further chips away at our self-esteem. These thoughts are not new. They evolved over time and throughout our lives. It is only now that you are turning off your autopilot that you may be noticing them.
How Our Brain Works
We often think that our minds are filled with hundreds if not thousands of thoughts all speaking to us at the same time. This belief is a fallacy. The reality is, we can only have one thought occupying our mind at a time. The constant barrage of ideas, opinions and beliefs passing through our awareness are all competing for the same mental slot available in our consciousness.
Said simply, if you are thinking about your upcoming adventurous outing with friends, then that is your one thought. In turn, if you are obsessing about how your ex was a dirty downright scoundrel, then this is the thought filling your solitary cognitive spot. Granted, our thoughts can jump from one concept to another at lightning speed, but only one thought can take front and center within our awareness at a time.
This small detail of how our mind works can be exploited to support our healing. We can employ it by purposefully redirecting our one thought from a destructive intrusive one to anything of our choosing. This can be achieved by paying attention to our inner environment, our thoughts, feeling and body sensations and making a conscious choice about what to do with them in any given moment.
When you are feeling anxious, upset, hurt or frustrated, there is a disruption in “the force”. One of your inner wounds, a previous trauma, or a negative core belief may have become activated. There may be a conflict between what you and your authentic self wants and the precepts stored in your unconscious mind. You can, however, use these moments to become our own private detective and solve the mystery of what happened and why.
Identifying what set you off can be challenging to determine but by getting to know what elicits your negative responses you can ready the stage for profound healing. You may even begin to consider the origin of your triggers and work to heal those things that unwittingly activate the tender parts, the wounded inner child inside of you. You will begin, in time, to feel whole and strong and will be better able to navigate the same scenarios that once distressed you.
By being mindful of your thoughts, especially your intrusive ones, you can begin to calm down what has been flared up and hopefully let go of the rest. They can be easier to control and even prevented if you can catch them early on instead of waiting until you are in the midst of a full blown meltdown.
One way of supporting our ability to ‘be’ is through mindfulness techniques and meditation. Some people suggest that self-improvement techniques such as meditation or mindfulness are hard or even exhausting. What is even more taxing on your body and soul is the underlying stress negative thoughts and emotions can have.
Simple Mindfulness Techniques
One simple mindfulness technique you can use is called the ho’oponopono. The ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian meditative practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. It consists of four simple statements:
Please forgive me,
I love you,
The ho’oponopono is similar to an affirmation where it is repeated multiple times. This chant projects the energy of acceptance, grounding and neutrality. If you find yourself plagued by intrusive thoughts, consider repeating the ho’oponopono. This mindfulness practice can be used to shift your mind’s focus away from your problems to one of healing.
Tied to this is breathing! Breathing is a great tool for calming both the sympathetic nervous system and your overtaxed mind. It naturally puts your body into a relaxed state. Breathe deeply as you repeat the ho’oponopono. Feel your body and mind shift with each breath that you take. Have it move you from wherever you have been, back into the present moment.
The Mindfulness Practice Of Taking Inventory
Another way of supporting our inner transformation is by observing the dynamics of what is going on inside. Through it you can start to unwind your psyche and heal your inner wounding. This knowledge can help you identify what sets you off. Use it to make different choices, more mature choices, when an uncomfortable situation is encountered. It also causes you to pause and hopefully respond more skillfully. You can step out of your habitual patterns and view a situation from a more expanded perspective with it.
When you feel anxious, worried or afraid take a few deep breaths. This will help to calm down your body and quiet your mind. Remind yourself that these are just emotions triggered by your thoughts. It is okay to feel these things. Let them just ‘be’ without trying to manipulate or change the experience. Do not try to push them away. The more you struggle with them the stronger they can become and the more entangled you can get with them.
Instead, ask them what they are trying to reveal to you. A question you might want to internalize is “why?” What just happened that stirred me up? Why am I feeling so anxious? What thoughts keep rolling around in my mind that are disturbing my internal world? What concept keeps coming back trying to fill my mental slot? What am I feeling in my body while all of this is going on?
Perhaps, the recent triggering event is only sitting on the surface of something much deeper. Maybe what actually got activated is the pain from a wound that occurred in your distant past. Open yourself up to this possibility. Ask you higher self to reveal its origin and support you as you work to uncover the submerged trauma. Keep breathing as you work through this process.
The Mindfulness Practice Of Working With Worry
If worry and anxiety is where your mind traditionally goes when a challenging situation presents itself, then perhaps asking yourself some basic questions can resolve or at least lessen the fear you are experiencing. Check in and inquire, “Is it really that bad?” “What is the worst thing that could happen?” “What steps can I take to resolve this situation?” Questions such as these support you as you begin to take control of what is going on inside. They help shift you from a place of helplessness to a proactive one, one in which you may feel like you are in control of your destiny.
The Mindfulness Practice Of Taking A Worry Break
You might also want to try the strategy of postponing your negative thoughts. If you find yourself going in for another round of rumination or worry, instead of trying to stop your thoughts or get rid of them, give yourself permission to put them off until a later designated time. Tell yourself you do not need to think about it right now. You can go back and deal with these issues during its assigned time be it later in the day or even the following week. Sometimes just by putting them off you can stop feeding negative thoughts and the associated momentum. You may find that this technique can help you let go of them entirely.
The Mindfulness Practice Of Talking It Out
Sometimes it is a good idea to talk to someone about what you are thinking and feeling. It can provide you with the opportunity to unravel what may seem like a jumbled up confusing mess in your mind. It can also help you to delve deeper into your underlying issues rather than just dealing with them on surface levels. Whether you go talk to a counselor or a good friend, the act of vocalized and expressing what is going on can be very healing. Sometimes just hearing yourself speak can help you to sort things out. Journaling is also another wonderful technique you can use to sort out your thoughts and make sense of what is going on if there is not anyone to can readily go to.
The Dysfunctional Dance Of The Empath And Narcissist may also provide you with some additional insights into the role of trauma in your life and ways to heal it.
© Copyright Rita Louise, Inc. – soulhealer.com. All rights reserved.
About Dr. Rita Louise
A gifted and talented clairvoyant medical intuitive, Dr. Rita Louise helps people identify the root causes of their concerns. She is a naturopathic physician and the founder of the Institute Of Applied Energetics that trains students in the art of medical intuition, intuitive counseling, and energy medicine. She has authored six books and produced several feature-length and short films. Dr. Louise has appeared on radio, television and in movies. She lectures on health and healing, ghosts, intuition, ancient mysteries and the paranormal. Her books and articles have worldwide circulation.