Moving to Mindful Thoughts

Skill Exercise:  Focus Shifting

Skill Sheet:  Imagine the Thought as Something Else

Shifting our focus from negative thoughts to something more manageable requires curiosity and self-awareness (like a detective or an expert)

Focus with the same intensity that you did last week on objects in the room or your breath:

What thoughts are popping up?  

Do the thoughts feel like waves?  Or do they feel flat with a dangerous undercurrent?  

Like waves or even riptides, thoughts have a natural life span and if we stay with them without stirring them, they will subside and be replaced with calmer feelings.  

What emotions are you feeling?  Notice them without telling yourself that you should or shouldn’t feel this way

Where is your mind wandering to, racing off to or is your mind racing with many thoughts all at once?  

What happens if you think about something else?  Are you able to think about something else without stuffing the emotion?  Does this alleviate the feeling or intensify it?  

Are you able to identify nuances in your emotions?  For example, does your sad feeling also have shades of anxiety or even anger?  How about guilty feelings that are mixed in with loss or resentment?  This sense of mixed feelings is very normal and is a strong indicator that you are overwhelmed.  

As you are going through this exercise, notice any perspective changes that you have about either what is happening inside your body or outside

Refocus judgment whether good or bad, to noticing and maintaining curiosity.  

Can you describe your emotion?  Describing an emotion is often an effective way to rein in runaway emotions.  

Stay with the feeling and focus your energy toward further learning and describing.  

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