“Don’t think about pink elephants”
I know exactly what you are thinking. You are thinking about pink elephants even though I specifically told you not to. Well don’t feel bad because every single human thinks like this. This is how our minds function.
You won’t believe me but this was the first breakthrough I had from my anxious cycle when I first encountered anxiety. 99% of the time, our anxiety is caused by thoughts. When these thoughts come we either forcefully distract ourselves from them or we may analyse our thoughts in the hope of finding a solution or trying to get rid of it. But they don’t work and logically they won’t.
So when we try not to think of a thought, we already had to have that thought in order to let ourselves know that we’re not supposed to think about it. Let me give you an example, let’s say you need to colour a picture but you can’t use green color. So when you check your crayons collection, you see green crayon but you know you can’t use it. But you did see the green crayon and decided you can’t use it. It’s the same way with thoughts, you have to think about it even if you are not supposed to think about it. So this method is just damn stupid.
Let’s see if distraction works. Distraction means you forcefully make yourself concentrate on something else in order not to think of something. It’s a temporary fix and may last only till distraction lasts. Some people may find distracting themselves harder than thinking about the thought itself. Funny isn’t it? But honestly, I belong there. Even when I distract deep down I know I’m trying to distract myself from some thought and this somehow makes it stronger. Another failed method.
So how does our minds work?
First of all, you must know that you’re not your thoughts. You can see your thoughts and also know you’re thinking. So you cannot possibly be your thoughts otherwise how can you know your thoughts. [Spiritually, you’re the consciousness (the knowing). It’s another topic in itself]
Secondly, what you give your attention to it’ll strengthen. So if you feed your thoughts directly (trying to rid off) or indirectly (distracting), it’ll just stick even more.
Thirdly, our thoughts are evanescent, they’re always changing. Just take a look at your mind you can see yourself having all kinds of thoughts and out of this 99% would be useless. Our thoughts are like clouds. They keep changing if we don’t indulge them. So whatever thought that is bothering you, instead of distracting or ridding yourself of it allow it to come without indulging in it and after a while they’ll go on their own.
This may seem like a hard task and it may be hard at the beginning but as the time goes you’ll get really good at it. You will feel more peaceful and in control with your thoughts. In time it’ll become effortless and you’ll feel more at ease with your mind.