October, 2016 – It doesn’t have to be Halloween to suffer from scary, obsessive thinking, does it?
By Dr. Bonnie Lyon
The solution isn’t a spooky unsolved mystery. You do have the power to stop this type of thinking. This power lies in defusion, learning to defuse the “bomb” of scary, obsessive thoughts by under-reacting and depersonalizing challenging situations. I can help you cultivate your own insight and teach you how to use logic and humor to restructure scary, obsessive thoughts.
Here’s the logic. Did you know?
1. Thoughts are not necessarily facts.
2. You are not your thoughts.
3. You are your actions.
Many who suffer from anxiety and depression also have a problem with obsessive thinking. In other words, they tend to dwell on things, and over think them! Many people describe a feeling of their mind “just racing.” Some are more prone to this at bedtime when it robs them of a restful night’s sleep. Others obsess anytime, day or night, indiscriminately. No matter when it happens for them everyone suffering desperately wants an off switch.
Let me give you a rheostat, so you can at least dial it down a bit. When you begin to feel your mind racing stop and ask yourself
1. What’s really bothering me?
2. What’s going on in my life right now that I don’t want to deal with?
Often, the situation you’re avoiding is totally subconscious. You may not be able to pinpoint it. No big deal! Just recognize your obsessive thought for what it is and know that you are not going to act on it. You see, the thought is not the problem: it’s the pattern and progression of your thinking that is. Before you can have a feeling, you must have a thought. So, If you don’t like how you are feeling: Change what you’re thinking!
Wait? You can do that?? Absolutely! Obsessive, scary thoughts are just another way to avoid something uncomfortable or painful. Once you get busy with circular, irrational, unreasonable, unrealistic thinking, you don’t have to deal with whatever started the cycle. Maybe, for example, it’s questions you have about your relationships. Rather than deal with your doubts and concerns head on, perhaps you begin obsessing about your health. Then, poof, off you go and it’s as if you were standing in a fog of dry ice as it wafts across a dance floor. Soon, you are hopelessly enveloped in scary thinking!
Obsessive, scary thoughts are attempts to control something in your life. By dwelling in “what if” thinking, and staying with it long enough, maybe you’ll come up with a way to control every nuance of the “what if?” That’s a common rationalization for chasing down every scary thought. “I’ll chase it down just to see how scary it gets. If it actually happens, I’ll be prepared.”
Whenever you find yourself running in a circle, just jump out. You do have a choice, you know? What you think about is not as critical as what you tell yourself about what you think. Obsessive thinking is out of balance thinking. Realize, this sort of thinking is a habit. It took you years to get good at negative, scary, “catastrophizing,” “futurizing,” thinking. Consequently, it is reasonable to expect that you’ll need to devote some time to both reformatting this thinking and developing new, healthier habits. That’s the trick.
One treat you’ll want to toss in the bag this Halloween is knowing HUMOR can help you bring balance to your emotions. Humor can knock you right out of the vicious cycle of obsessive, scary thinking. Whenever you find yourself spinning, just conjure up a humorous thought or mental movie to set off a powerful spell of feel-good chemicals capable of soothing and calming you: mind, body and spirit.
So, this Halloween, let your inner Dracula take a bloody bite into your biggest fears while a goblin wielding a baguette whacks the anxiety right out of your mind. Let a green-skinned witch snitch your worries, stuff them in a basket and pedal away snickering on her creaky bicycle.
Contact Dr. Bonnie Lyon for more ways to strategically short-circuit obsessive thinking. I’ve got a candy bowlful.