In CBT we modify the content of our thoughts. For example, let’s say automatic negative thoughts A, B and C are having a negative effect on how we’re feeling. We then transform these thoughts into alternative or more balanced thoughts X, Y and Z. And changing the content of our thoughts from A, B and C to X, Y and Z helps us feel better.
But a challenge with CBT is that once we start dwelling, ruminating, or worrying about something, our minds tend to start to race. If we attempt to engage with our thoughts while our minds are racing, it often doesn’t end well. If we try modifying racing thoughts, we often end up just having even more thoughts, many of them negative. And then our minds wind up racing even more.
But there’s an alternative to trying to change the content of our thoughts. Instead, we can change how we relate to our thoughts. And this ties back into when we learned that our Thoughts are not Facts. Because our thoughts aren’t facts, when they’re not needed for whatever we’re doing at the time, we don’t need to pay attention to them. We can just let these thoughts go.
If we’re cooking dinner and start worrying about work, we can let those thoughts go. If we’re watching TV and start dwelling on an argument we had, we can just let those thoughts go. Once we learn to acknowledge our automatic negative thoughts and just let them go, they lose their power over how we feel. They become like mental background noise. They come in one ear, and go right out the other, before they have a chance to negatively affect our moods.
Letting Go Of Thoughts
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