At times our thoughts can seem like they are racing out of control, often a lot of those thoughts are negative. During the last few years of coaching and teaching mindfulness techniques, I have noticed that the root cause of many problems is the relationship we have with our thoughts. So how can we navigate the fast flowing river of thoughts safely and effectively?
Stop trying to stop them
Often in our battle to stop thoughts we notice that the sheer act of trying to stop them actually makes matters worse. So the first step is to stop battling, drop all the fighting, take a deep breath, feel your feet rooted to the ground for a few moments. Trying to stop our thoughts is like trying to damn a river, the water has to go somewhere and inevitably there will be a flood. So for now stop trying to stop them, just allow them to be, like clouds floating by in the sky.
If your thoughts are taking over and you feel out of control, pause for a moment, concentrate on your breath, the air coming in to the body, the air leaving the body. Now as a thought pops along just label it with “I am having a thought” and come back to your breath. Bask in the calmness this creates when you start to realise your thoughts are just that, just a thought.
A lot of thoughts we have are not useful and are definitely not based in reality. Spend a few moments to ask your thought a few questions, is this thought based in reality? Is this thought supporting my future growth and happiness? Is this thought useful? This little pause can help us to weed out those negative thoughts that do not support us.
Thoughts are very much a part of us but they do not need to control us. Practicing with thoughts like this is like training a muscle at the gym, the more we do it the easier it becomes, so remember to practice thought labelling daily and gently over time the thoughts do not hook you anymore but are simply a part of daily life that is within your control.