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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Thoughts: Rid Yourself of the Vicious Circle


This topic of thoughts that create a vicious circle in your head is something that I've posted about many times - along with countless others. However, as I often tell people, just as in marketing a given product, where we were told by marketers that until a potential consumer had seen said product at least nine times, they would not necessarily venture out to buy it, so also in psychology, we might consider that until you have read about or heard of a way of easing your anxiety or stress quite a number of times, while it might make great sense to you, you might not apply the principles.

So: when thoughts are plaguing you, whether about something you fear, or something that causes great worry, pain, or grief, among other difficult emotions, here is a relatively simple recipe to follow that literally takes seconds:
  1. First acknowledge that continuing to think about the 'thing' in a vicious-circle type of way, i.e., ruminating about it, takes you no where. It does not resolve the issue or make it better. Proactive thinking might help or lead you to a solution, but that is, in fact, not what you are doing.
  2. Next, simply say to yourself - when the intrusive, worrisome, anxiety-producing, or painful thought next appears - ok, this is something I have not yet resolved. Nor do I know - at this time - how to resolve it. But just for now, and because I want to take good care of myself, instead of focusing on this thought, I am going to focus on something that will be able to create a small shift in my energy. 
  3. Now look at something beautiful - preferably something in nature that is close at hand - perhaps the blue sky, or the refreshing rain, or the exquisite fir or palm, or listen to birdsong, or the sighing of the wind through the trees, or breathe in the scent of freshly-mown grass. Whatever is there.
  4. Notice that slight energetic shift in you as you focus on the beauty you see, smell, or hear (or touch, as in the velveteen petals of an African violet), and feel gratitude for its presence in your life just now. 
  5. Notice that thanks to that slight energetic shift, you now feel a bit better.
  6. Get on with your day.
  7. It may happen - depending on the neural pathway already associated with the difficult thoughts and worries, pain, etc., that you have been focusing on this a great deal each day, ruminating, as said, in vicious-circle mode, and therefore the thoughts you had just moved to the outer edges of your consciousness are back in a matter of minutes.
  8. Above all, don't despair. This is a well-ingrained neural pathway, and all you need is a bit of patience (and some discipline) to change.
  9. Repeat steps #2 - #6.
  10. And continue repeating over and over again.
  11. That first day you may find that you have done this 187 times.
  12. It's always only seconds, so you are not actually using a lot of your time.
  13. But the second day it might only be 159 times.
  14. The third perhaps only 82 times
As you continue with this, the number of times each day that the difficult thoughts arise in you, will decrease more and more. You are creating a new neural pathway that makes the conscious decision to move away from these thoughts (in the ruminating way). As said in point #1 regarding proactive thinking, the more you eliminate the ruminative thinking, the more proactive thinking (as in brainstorming, or researching, or consulting) will take over. This new neural pathway creates a kind of inner strength in you to automatically move away from useless vicious-circle thinking. And that may lead you to the solution you seek.

Doing this - so simple - is a choice. What are you choosing?

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