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Learning to 'thank' your mind rather than 'fight' it

As human beings, we have an amazing piece of machinery between our ears- the brain! As I often say, there would be no works of art, no statue of liberty, no Internet if we didn’t have this amazing creative brain. But it can also spurt out unhelpful thoughts such as:

“You are not good enough”, “Why are you so clumsy?”, or those of an OCD variety;

“You need to wash your hands 15 times or something bad will happen to mum”, or

“If you are left alone with that steak knife- you could stab your wife.”

Generally, and understandably, when those types of thoughts show up, we do what we can to try and ‘get rid of’ them, to ‘push them away’, to ‘fight with’ them, as we don’t want them to there and we believe that the fact they are showing up might be an indicator that they are 100 percent true!

However, ‘fighting’ our mind, getting into a ‘battle’ with our difficult thoughts and feelings doesn’t get rid of them- and it can be exhausting!

So what’s the alternative? Is there a healthier way to manage those more unhelpful thoughts?

Internationally-acclaimed Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) Trainer, & Author, Dr. Russ Harris uses a very good metaphor which can be really useful called ‘Thanking Your Mind’.

This exercise can help you ‘unhook’ from those difficult thought processes, to take the power & sting out of them.

So this is something you can try in your own time:

So whatever your mind says to you, no matter how mean, nasty or hurtful it is, just with a sense of humour and a sense of playfulness, you reply;

“Thanks mind, thanks for sharing”

So if your mind says,

“You’re an idiot, you are such a loser!” You reply…

“Thanks mind, thanks for sharing

Your mind won’t like this change of approach and will want you to give it your full energy and attention so it will reply something like;

“You’re tricks won’t work on me mate- you’re still a loser!”

Again, you reply…

“Thanks mind, thanks for sharing. OR “Thanks mind, I know you are trying to help, but it’s okay – I’ve got this covered.”

So you just let your mind ramble on, it can continue to say what it says but you ‘refocus’ your attention as best as you can onto something more wholesome.

So I really invite you to have a go with this technique- It’s something I have found really useful in my own life, and with the clients that I work with.

Paul Mc Carroll

Therapist| Trainer| Blogger

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