I recently read something that got me thinking about the critical thoughts that permeate my mind and how I deal with them. The focus was on what we do when we feel attacked by critical or difficult thoughts.
The text asked the reader to imagine the thoughts as being someone running towards you trying to attack you, and then to visualise responding in three separate ways. Firstly, reacting to the thought by freezing and allowing the thought to push you over. This reaction allows the attacker to keep attacking. The second response is to try to run away from the attacker but the attacker just keeps chasing. The final response portrayed is to fight back.
This highlighted that the three ways often employed are "fight, flight or freeze". All of which require energy to be centred around the negative attacking thought.
An alternative approach suggested was to be more welcoming of the thought, acknowledging it and inviting the thought to dance with you, thereby offering compassionate curiosity. This can allow for light to be shone upon the dark thoughts, thereby reducing their attacking power. So, rather than being afraid of the thought, become enquiring as to where it has come from, whose belief is it or whose rule does it belong to? Question yourself as to if it is a rule or a belief that you truly share, or is it something that you have adopted from elsewhere.
I have noticed that I often have thoughts that commence with "I should", "I must", "I must never"...I have started to try and take note when I have such thoughts and then at the end of the day reflect back and work out why I have thought in that way, where have I picked that rule up from?
It's not easy recognising these thought patterns, they happen quite frequently and so quickly it can be hard to notice them. It's hard work having to be so mindful but by looking into the thoughts more closely, rather than trying to flee or fight them, it's providing an opportunity to take a bit of their power away and reduce the ability to be attacked by them so strongly.
So next time you want to fight, flight or freeze, try dancing instead, and offering compassion to your thoughts so you can shine some light on them and bring them out of the dark and make them a little less scary.
A Moodscope member.