We Can Exchange Thought Habits!

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2013 Nancy Virdenvector image of a idea bulb in brain

Today’s blog is an exercise that I wrote based on the fact we do have control over how we think.

Our thoughts can be habitual. Have you ever walked into your family room with intent of passing through, and the thought I’d like to sit and watch TV crosses your mind? As with any habit, our thoughts can be exchanged for new ones.

If you will take the time to complete this exercise, I believe you will be surprised at the positive outcome. Whether you have a diagnosis of mental illness or not, give it a try!

Making the Exchange

(1) What consistent triggering event do you experience? (Example: Feeling sad when sitting on the edge of the bed.)

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(2) What is your brain suggesting to you during this triggering event?   (Example:  “Go ahead, hide under the covers and do not be here anymore. Everything is just too much.”) 

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(3)What is your thought habit?  (Example: Associating this specific seat with hiding and sadness.)

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(4) What thought habit would you prefer?    (Example: Associating this spot with power to make life better.)

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(5) What decision do you want to make?    (Example: I will choose to actively pursue a new thought habit.)

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(6) How will you make your exchange? Be creative.  

◊  Change the environment.  (Example: Some options are to move the bed, or redecorate the area.)

◊  Change the context.  (Example: Make this the spot for foot rubs, saying prayers, reading, or calling friends.)

◊  Change the  atmosphere. (Example: Keep the room cheery by opening windows, practice relaxation as soon as entering.)

◊  Use grounding techniques. (Example: Place a calendar nearby as a reminder that the past is over, or a list of accomplishments and goals)

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(7) When will you start?   (Example: This afternoon I will open the bedroom window and gather positive reminders for decoration)

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(8) What is the first action you will take next time this triggering event occurs?    (Example: Pay attention to the positive reminders and say a prayer of gratitude)

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NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

*photo from qualitystockphotos.com

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