If you have a harsh inner critic or get caught in worry, stress, anxiety, depression or wrestle with low self-worth, then you know some of the symptoms first hand.
People often try many different ways to get rid of their negative thoughts, including distractions, diversions or ‘drowning their sorrows’ only to later mentally beat themselves up for being still stuck in their negativity.
Once we learn to recognise and identify negative thought patterns as they occur, we can start to step back from them. This process of stepping back from thoughts is called ‘cognitive defusion.’ In cognitive defusion we learn to see the thoughts in our head as simply that—just thoughts. Not reality. You see when we are fused with our thoughts (cognitive fusion) we tend to take our thoughts very, very seriously. We believe them. We buy into them and we obey them. We play them out.
When we are not fused with our thoughts—when we can step back into cognitive defusion, then we do not take our thoughts too seriously. We hold them lightly.
We only listen to them if we find them valuable or helpful. We certainly don’t take our thoughts to be ‘the truth’ and we don’t automatically obey them or play them out. We see our thoughts as simply bits of language that pass through the mind. Mental events if you will, that move through the mind all the time just like the weather passes through the sky. We have a choice in how we choose to respond to them.