Why does my mind get stuck on the bad thoughts?

In this week's podcast we're responding to a question about anxiety and why the mind gets stuck on bad thoughts:

"As soon as I think of something wrong, my thoughts get out of control and the anxiety overrides everything. My thoughts of calming myself down are non existent. How can I nip these thoughts in the bud and tell myself I am okay? I’m not dying. I don’t need surgery etc etc.

Do you know why our brains override good thoughts with extremely bad ones? E.g phobias? Often my phobia (illness) is due to a current phobia of needles. I ended up in hospital for an evening leading to IV anti-biotics and although it helped me.. it is a traumatic experience. How can I treat it as a good experience rather than focus on my phobia side haunting memories?"

How can I nip these thoughts in the bud and tell myself I am okay?

Practice looking for evidence that you are OK right now.

The mind likes to time travel - it will go back to past traumas, or travel into the future with “what if” type thoughts.

There are simple techniques you can learn and apply that can help you be present and OK in the moment.

For example: grounding techniques, or guided breathing practices.

The Measured Breath for Easing Anxious Thoughts and The Bumble Bee Breath for Calming Anxiety are two good exercises to try from our Breathe collection available from Amazon and the iTunes music store. 

They key is to practice with simple things you are certain of. Right now I am alive, I am here, and I am OK.

This is the lesson from mindfulness. It means being willing to exist more fully in the present moment. To be connected with your breath and to accept that you may have uncomfortable thoughts, but that they are just thoughts and to practice letting them drift through your mind without engagement.

Present moment awareness can really help calm the mind and help it rest, rather than being engaged in either the past or the future.

You can also practice when cooking, eating, walking, exercising. See how much you can pay attention to your breath, to what you feel with your hands, to what you hear. Use as many of your senses as you can to notice sounds, smells, tastes, textures.

As we mentioned last week, it's important to stick at it and be patient with yourself. Keep practicing breathing, or grounding techniques, every day, even if its just five minutes a couple of times a day. It will make a difference.

Do you know why our brains override good thoughts with extremely bad ones?

The mind is very sensitive and easily disturbed. It requires constant care and direction. The more you can fill your mind with good thoughts and avoid disturbing it with drama, intense movies, the news etc the more settled it will be.


Listen to the podcast here:


How can I treat it as a good experience rather than focus on my phobia side haunting memories?

It’s natural to feel unsettled after a medical intervention. It might have ultimately been good, but it can also take a while for us to settle afterwards.

You could try Bach Flowers Rescue Remedy (available from Nelsons and Amazon) for any remaining shock in your system. You could also use EFT Tapping to feel more settled.

Again, practising being in the moment will help. It’s common for the mind to go back over stressful situations, but it will often then throw them out into the future. And we can start having uncomfortable thoughts about something happening again and worry about how we will cope.

But it’s not happening right now and that is the key to peace. When we imagine future stress we bring it into our present moment and what we imagine the body responds to. It doesn’t make the future OK it just makes the present anxious. So when your mind does that just tell it “thank you for your concern but right now I’m OK”. And practice present moment awareness: Where are you right now? What can you see? What can you hear?

And then take a deep breath and say “I am here, and I’m OK. Right now, in this moment, I’m OK.”

photo credit: The Real Adeline via photopin (license)



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