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  • Writer's pictureGeorgiana Cameron

You are not your thoughts

Our thoughts are powerful. So powerful we sometimes need to distance ourselves from them. How we think influences our emotions our actions and our life.

But not all thoughts are helpful and deserve our attention. Not all thoughts are meaningful or true, and we don’t need to listen to them all. We can step outside of them - this is called distancing. There are a number of evidence based distancing strategies we can try when experiencing unwanted or unhelpful thoughts. Distancing strategies help you to step outside your thoughts and recognise you are not your thoughts or your thoughts are not always true. Researcher Ethan Kross and his colleagues have conducted many studies looking at the effectiveness of these strategies. The researchers found that the strategies in themselves are effective at reducing negative emotions. But what protects people the most from unhelpful thoughts and mental illness, is the ability to apply lots of different strategies. Here are a number of distancing strategies to try when

experiencing unhelpful and unwanted thoughts:

🌟Saying to yourself you are noticing you are having the thought that... Eg “I’m noticing I’m having the thought that I’m an idiot, I’m dumb.” 🌟Talk to yourself in the third person, “Georgie, you are having that th

ought of I’m an idiot.” 🌟Temporal distancing - thinking about whether what you are thinking or stressing about now, will impact you in the distant future. “Will this thought that I’m an idiot matter in 10 years time?” 🌟Imagining how a neutral observer might see you, your thoughts and the situation (sometimes I imagine I am telling a therapist about it) 🌟Repeating a troubling word over and over again until it loses it’s meaning and power so that we recognise words get meaning from us, e.g. idiot Some of these strategies may be game changers for you, but it’s important to realise that there’s no one size fits all. We need to be willing to try a variety of strategies for the best results in regulating our emotions.

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