Welcome to my Blog

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How Do I Control My Anxious Thoughts?

Dear A. B.

It's me again and wondering if you could take a moment to answer just one question for me. I have had a family crisis and fallen into the dark pit. My question to you is on thought control..How does one control his thoughts while sleeping? Or is it that I go to bed with those thoughts? As I awoke today with my mind racing and feeling those old dark cloud thoughts that I hate so much. It's been coming on me, but today seemed to reach a zenith. Thanks. B_______

Dear B_______

It is not easy to control your thinking. It is a simple process but hard to get over the lack of motivation to want to do it. You have to insist on thinking YOUR thought instead of what disturbing or anxious thought your brain has popped up for you. Remember, your brain always follows the direction of its most current dominant thought. You make a thought dominant by thinking it over repetitively. That's why you CAN make your exercise thought dominant over the anxious thought. You can think your thought over and over. When the brain's anxious thought intrudes, intrude back with your own thought.

We all have the same problem of thinking thoughts we hate to think. You have to substitute a non-emotional thought. Anything works. Lately at night when I've gone to bed, I've been using simple counting 1-2-3-4 over and over. If I've been too agitated, and too much stress chemicals have been let loose, I read a book for a while to break the continuity and get my mind going in another direction. Or, on rare occasions, if nothing works, I'll watch an old movie for an hour or so and then go back to bed.

If I wake up at night, I also use the 1-2-3-4 counting to get back to sleep. During the day, it is easier to distract yourself with work and concentrating on objective things rather than dwell on your unwelcome thoughts. I simply don't allow negative or anxious thoughts during the day. At night it's harder if you are trying to get to sleep but usually I manage. Only once or twice a month I might have a problem that I have to solve with reading or rarely, every couple of months, I might have to watch a movie. A. B. Curtiss

Dear A. B.

Not sure. if I really understand here. Getting to sleep is not a problem for me. It's on awakening in the morning. It's usually a very bad feeling I awake to, and don't know why.

Did you mean if you think GOOD thoughts when you retire that will help the mood when one awakes?

Thanks for your replies. I know you are busy woman. Also loved the group picture of 20 as I counted them(on your website) . I count seventeen in our group. Of course, we lost my Granddaughter, and that was the tragedy of our life, but we do move on, yet never forget her.

Thanks for all your help through all these years. It's really been a life saver to me, and I DO recommend your books. Best regards, B_____

Dear B_______

I often awake with a bad feeling in the morning as well. Probably because we can't direct our thinking while we're asleep. The way I handle it is to absolutely ignore the bad feeling and use an exercise--counting, or “green frog” for a few seconds. Then I get up and get about my day.

I do not focus on my feelings at that time but, instead, focus on whatever activity I'm engaged in. If bad thoughts sneak in, I do a quick exercise like counting for a few seconds and continue with my activity. Or I might say to myself. "This crappy feeling will soon pass."

But I continue to ignore the crappy feeling and do not sink into it. I continue to move in the opposite direction--thinking about what I'm going to do next, or doing some nursery rhyme, or singing exercise, or counting if necessary to thoughtjam the downer thoughts that keep sneaking in. The crappy feeling can never survive more than an hour. I generally just notice that it's gone. Hope this helps.
A. B. Curtiss

1 comment:

Ginger said...

As I read B.'s concerns, I am moved to think about your Blog's opening suggestion to readers:
"Be gentle with yourselves."

In your reply to B.you write, "I do not focus on my feelings at that time but, instead, focus on whatever activity I'm engaged in." I hear you saying, "Sure, I'm not feeling so groovy right now, but I'm going to get on with my plans." This to me, is evidence of you "being gentle with yourself."

You let yourself off the hook and decide that it's o.k. to not be or feel perfect...life goes on! Even with blemishes, limits, and imperfections, you can still head out the door! How liberating. How counter-cultural. Commercials and media and magazines don't tell us that!

What thoughts help me to be "gentle with myself?"

If I tell myself at difficult moments that life is a mystery that is unfolding, not a problem to be solved, that helps!

I find solace in thinking about words that theology scholar John O'Donohue wrote: "We can never know the divine narrative God may be writing with the crooked lines of someone's struggles. I think we are all in the drama, but no one has seen the script."

And I always do well to remember what mystic Julian of Norwich prophesied: "All will be well, all will be well, all manner of thing shall be well."