DISTRACT YOUR THOUGHTS

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The human brain is a wonderful thought-producing machine. It turns out millions of thoughts every day. Most of the time, this makes our lives much easier. But unfortunately, we can’t fully control what our brain thinks about. Here’s an example. Imagine a picture of your favorite cartoon character, such as Bugs Bunny, Snoopy, Superman, or whomever. Close your eyes and see the character in vivid detail in your mind’s eye. Remember exactly what it looks like. Think about the character for about fifteen seconds. Got it? Now, for the next thirty seconds do your best not to think about the character. Try to block the character from your thoughts.

But be honest with yourself and notice how often the character pops into your thoughts. It’s impossible not to think about the character. In fact, the harder you try not to think about it, the more power you give to the image and the more your brain keeps bringing it into your thoughts. It’s almost as if the harder you try to forget something, the harder your brain tries to remember it. This is why forcing yourself to forget about something that happened to you is impossible. It’s also why you can’t simply force yourself to get rid of emotions that you don’t want. So, instead of trying to force yourself to forget a memory or thought, try to distract your thoughts with other memories or creative images.

Here are some examples.

Check (…) the ones you’re willing to do, and then add any activities that you can think of:

(   ) Remember events from your past that were pleasant, fun, or exciting. Try to remember as many details as possible about these happy memories. What did you do? Who were you with? What happened?

(   ) Imagine sexual thoughts that make you excited. Create sexual fantasies involving you and someone you know or someone you would like to know. Try to think of as many details as possible. What happens that’s so exciting?

(   ) Look outside at the natural world around you. Observe the flowers, trees, sky, and landscape as closely as you can. Observe any animals that are around. Listen to the sounds that they make. Or if you live in a city without much nature around you, either do your best to observe what you can or close your eyes and imagine a scene you’ve observed in the past.

(   ) Imagine yourself as a hero or heroine correcting some past or future event in your life. How would you do it? What would people say to you?

(   ) Imagine yourself getting praise from someone whose opinion matters to you. What did you do? What does this person say to you? Why does this person’s opinion matter to you?

(   ) Imagine your wildest fantasy coming true. What would it be? Who else would be involved? What would you do afterwards?

(   ) Keep a copy of your favorite prayer or favorite saying with you. Then, when you feel distressed, pull it out and read it to yourself. Imagine the words calming and soothing you. Use imagery (such as a white light coming down from heaven or the universe) that soothes you as you read the words.

(   ) Other ideas: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Learn more:

Distress Tolerance Skills:

  1. DISTRESS TOLERANCE SKILLS
  2. RADICAL ACCEPTANCE
  3. DISTRACT YOURSELF FROM SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIORS
  4. DISTRACT YOURSELF WITH PLEASURABLE ACTIVITIES
  5. DISTRACT YOURSELF BY PAYING ATTENTION TO SOMEONE ELSE
  6. DISTRACT YOUR THOUGHTS
  7. DISTRACT YOURSELF BY LEAVING
  8. DISTRACT YOURSELF WITH TASKS AND CHORES
  9. DISTRACT YOURSELF BY COUNTING
  10. CREATE YOUR DISTRACTION PLAN
  11. RELAX AND SOOTHE YOURSELF
  12. Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Smell
  13. Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Touch
  14. Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Taste
  15. Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Hearing
  16. Self-Soothing Using Your Sense of Vision
  17. Self-Soothing – CREATE A RELAXATION PLAN

Advanced Distress Tolerance Skills:

  1. Advanced Distress Tolerance Skills: Improve the Moment
  2. SAFE-PLACE VISUALIZATION
  3. CUE-CONTROLLED RELAXATION
  4. REDISCOVER YOUR VALUES
  5. SELF-ENCOURAGING COPING THOUGHTS
  6. TAKE A TIME-OUT
  7. LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT
  8. IDENTIFY YOUR HIGHER POWER
  9. ADVANCED RADICAL ACCEPTANCE
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