It’s 2am again, for the last two and a half hours you’ve dealt with variations of how you would attempt to evade anxiety provoking situations. Yet, here you are again at what seems to be square one without a single solution feeling emotionally exhausted. How did this happen you may ask? Well, in the most simple terms, you believed your thoughts to be factual and then followed them down several dark roads.
Now this may seem like an insensitive statement but it simply touches on a profoundly liberating idea. Everything you think, including the depressing, painful thoughts you have consistently are not inherently true. You don’t have to believe everything you think, despite the convincing case your thoughts may present.
Here is why you shouldn’t believe all your thoughts, especially negative, depressive and anxiety provoking ones. Know that these emotional states arise from subconscious belief systems. These systems were constructed roughly between birth and 8 years old. The subconscious mind, forms your map of the world, how to avoid pain and create pleasure. These perceptions are not particularly rational due to the limited emotional and social capacities of a child to process data rationally. Painful perceptions lead to the development of protective mechanisms like anxiety, anger and depression as a way to get ones need a met or avoid rejection. These mechanisms strengthen over a persons lifetime and become automated thought patterns.
These automated patterns run continuously scanning the environment for situations that could cause pain. This is what happens when a person saids they felt ‘triggered’ by an event. This is simply your subconscious mind on high alert, which it follow up with the subconscious pattern of ruminating or escaping.
Now, when we realize that I fact many of the automatic thoughts we have arise from these patterns, we can learn not to go down the rabbit hole with them.
This is called pattern recognition. When you recognize a thought coming up, that is in line with a subconscious pattern. Simply, observe its presence and practice letting it go. It may arise again and once again let it go. Bringing your attention back to your breathing and your body in the present moment. This simple mindfulness activity will allow you to learn that thoughts are just thoughts and there is no need to believe everything you think.
In addition, there are some wonderful exercises in both cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy that will help you identify and process deeper subconscious patterns. This will mitigate the power or draw or thought patterns.
Recognizing patterns and learning to let thoughts come and go will truly teach you that you don’t have to suffer. You have the gift of free will and an incredibly powerful mind to choose thoughts that create happiness and deep inner peace.