Cedar Creek, Australia
Mental Health, Motivational

Dealing with Thoughts

Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness. And they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy… or they become legend. – Jim Harrison

reflection

Self-Talk

Most of us have some kind of inner dialogue within our minds, that is the manifestation of our thoughts. Sometimes our self-talk or thoughts are kind and positive, supporting and encouraging us, such as, “Don’t be afraid, – you can do it!” Other times, they can become a destructive enemy, suggesting we don’t deserve any measure of happiness.

Our minds hear these inner thoughts or talk, and sometimes they get stuck on an endless repeat. The subconscious mind might then have a difficult time distinguishing between reality and imagination, as both positive and negative thoughts may stimulate neural networks and result in physical reactions in the body.

We can use mental imagery to our advantage in slowly or stopping those recurring thoughts, through simple visualization techniques. Listening to slow music and visualizing your day helps to organize your thoughts, mentally prepare you, and reduce stress. Studies on visualization techniques have shown positive outcomes whereby the subconscious mind hears and believes a suggestion leading to a boost in confidence and mental preparedness, not felt before. www.huffpost.com

I have used the following visualization to help me deal with persistent undesired thoughts, feeling of anxiety, frustration or stress and just when I am feeling overwhelmed, overstimulated or wish to calm down.

Visualization Techniques

stream
Creek bed upstream Cedar Creek

I use a visualisation that involves imagining that I am sitting comfortably on the bank of a stream, watching random twigs or branches float by with the gentle current. I imagine that a twig, branch or even a leaf, is an individual thought.

Imagine

  • Sit comfortably on the bank of your ‘imaginary’ stream.
  • When a thought comes along in your mind, imagine seeing that thought as a twig or leaf, floating on the surface of the water.
  • Watch each leaf, or thought, approach from a bend further up the stream; imagine each leaf approaching you, getting closer and closer, until it floats in front of you.
  • Acknowledge its presence but continue to watch it floating by with the gentle current.
  • Continue watching it on its way downstream, until it slowly disappears from view and is out of sight.

You can use a leaf for a minor thought like a household chore that needs to be done and a branch for a big “worry,” if that helps you. It doesn’t matter.

What matters is the movement down the stream and out of sight.

Occasionally a twig will get stuck on the side of the bank, (ie the persistent unstoppable thought), until the current builds and builds and then you imagine seeing it finally washing downstream, too.

water splashing

Sometimes you might find your focus wanders a little, or that twig gets stuck for too long behind a rock on the bank. Distract the mind into letting the thought go, by moving your focus to look further upstream again, to ‘see,’ what thought the mind will come up with next. Try it!

Feel free to adjust location, or image, as you prefer. You might prefer sitting in a field watching a animal such as a bird, (or deer) instead of a leaf in a stream. You could watch the bird come into your line of sight, watch it pause to eat and then watch it fly away.

In this way your mind allows thoughts to come, it acknowledges them, yet you remain a silent observer of your thoughts. You are not fighting to keep the thoughts away.

This allows the mind to release the thought and leave your attention. This is way better than the troubling thought! It gives your mind that much-needed break.

Visualization is one of the ways to get your mind back on track when you feel out of balance.

Stress Relief

Another stress relief technique from another blogger:

“Lie on your back and imagine all the stress in your body is warm lava concentrated at the top of your head. Then, slowly imagine it pouring down your ears, neck, shoulders, and entire body. You should actually feel a sensation roll down your body as you imagine the stress leaving your head. I use this to fall asleep, and I have never stayed awake past my shoulders.”

WordPress blogger

The more faithfully you listen to the voices within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside. – Dag Hammarskjold

38 thoughts on “Dealing with Thoughts”

  1. I like this visualization idea a lot, especially for those 4 in the morning wake ups where I find myself stressing over things that don’t matter in the light of day.
    Paying attention to our inner voice is important too. We often say things to ourselves that we wouldn’t dream of saying to others. Good post! I’m glad I caught it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 2, 3, or 4am in the morning is a really good time for the mind to run wild with worrying thoughts as there is so little in the way of distractions! I will often get up and start the day, or use this visualization to relax and sleep in a bit longer. I hope it is of benefit for you, L.L. Let me know how you go.

      Like

  2. If I awake early in the morning I turn ABC radio on so I don’t think. It was quite helpful the other morning, the lady who was interviewed had a boring monotone voice. Her subject was interesting but………..ZZZZZZZZZZZZ

    Liked by 1 person

        1. We used to have one of those. Now the Moth has a google home things that he accidentally bumps with his arm at 2am in the morning, giving us his full schedule for the day……The ABC voice sounds soothing in comparison.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. No way would I have anything like that in my home. “I laughed about someone listening to my life….Siri laughed, Alexa laughed, Cortana laughed, Bixby laughed……we all laughed”

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Ah Siri, Bixby, are banned from my house, and Cortana is relegated to the boondocks of my work pc and home tablet.
            But the Moth likes his new gadget. We also have various cameras installed now, under the guise of home security. Being a new estate, the area is a target for thefts. Now google or some other Big Brother sees as well as listens to me…… I can’t escape!

            Liked by 1 person

          3. I dislike those cordless phones and their radiation – but I will have to tolerate this gadget for a bit longer I think. It is better than his other suggestion of purchasing a large slot car racing set!

            Liked by 1 person

      1. I am not really worried about phone radiation, but I intensely dislike anything which intrudes upon my hibernation…
        I do not allow internet monitors (Alexa, Bixby, Cortana, etc.) within my lair myself. Not because I am worried about being monitored, but simply because I see no actual benefit to outweigh their drawbacks: cost, risk of security breaches, loss of privacy.
        I am old-fashioned. I far prefer gadgets which I control, rather than some faceless corporation on the other side of the world…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Your stream visualization is a very interesting approach to developing the “conscious observer” within yourself, Amanda. I haven’t seen it described quite like that before, and I really like your way of doing it. I will take it up myself.
    There are many benefits to meditation. The peace and inner balance gained are not the least of them…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It may not be the most eloquent description, N.D. but it worked for me when other didn’t. It wasn’t my original idea but that of a fantastic Yoga teacher. I just adapted it a little. Do let me know if you find the technique works for your individual situation.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah the funny thing Lisa, is I feel like I should keep it, but I very rarely if ever look at the writing again.
          Recently, I found a diary I wrote, when I was 18 and was quite shocked at the rubbish I wrote in that! So you’re right it is probably the act of getting it down that is important, rather than any wisdoms, or earth shattering information, being revealed at a later date, that would validate keeping the book.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. These are two wonderful ideas. I like them both and will remember them if [when?] I need them. The whole image of a river going by in front of me is beautiful. As with most things I’ve found in life, it’s all in how you look at it. Perspective is everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree more. When faced with a problem without any obvious solution, changing perspective has for me, often revealed a clue to continue or a way forward. Perspective is close to attitude and that adage: “Change your attitude and you change your life,” comes to mind.
      I sincerely hope you don’t need to use these techniques, Ally but they are useful, if you ever do.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The 4 in the morning scenario is a possibility, Amanda. I can’t see myself doing this in the normal course of the day, but it could be useful for those night niggles. Thanks for this 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those sticky thoughts can accumulate and really affect our mood. Some can dismiss them and stay rooted in the present moment, others can’t and continue to re-hash them trying to find a solution. It is so mentally draining.
      I hope this technique works for you, Mosy. It is a simple idea and I found it quite effective.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Amanda, I am a fan of visualization. I have recently started working on what I would like my life to look like, post pandemic. The concept of thoughts is very real and surreal as you describe very well. My latest on thoughts is how they are just clouds passing through my mind. I try not to let the negative thoughts stay too long for a visit. I love how you visualize the stream, with the twigs, leafs floating by. I will play with this visualization tonight. Great gems. The photos are beautiful and perfect for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you E/E. Your suggestion of visualizing clouds, is another useful and practical suggestion, especially for those who for some reason don’t like running water! Lol! As a child I used to lay on my back in the garden and look at shapes in the clouds, so your technique sounds particularly attractive. I could easily imagine it. You could have large stormy clouds, and little puffy ones too. Like you, I will try this new visualization. I would be interested to hear feedback or any suggestions to improve the technique.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I really like these visualization ideas to reduce stress a lot!! I have another image, that works well for me too: imagine looking into the sky watching clouds, each clouds represent one of your worries, big or small, and either they pass by on their own, or you can give them a little push by blowing them away ever so gently in your mind. It’s similar to yours I think, and works also well. But I might prefer yours as it would give me also the opportunity to imagine the sounds of the rushing water, always very soothing too.

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    1. I like your suggestion of using the clouds too, Sarah. Actually, anything that has that natural forward movement could work with this visualization. I guess it just depends on what suits you. For some people running water might be annoying! It is great to have alternatives. Pushing or blowing them gently with your mind is another useful complement to the technique. Let me know how it works for you.

      Liked by 1 person

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