Negative thoughts about events old and new or about what’s coming up in the future can easily harm our peace of mind. When such thoughts are occurring more often than is useful, try using a phrase such as ‘Not happening now’ to sidestep the thought, to park it, so to speak , while you turn your attention to whatever is going on for you in the moment. That might just be your breathing or whatever else you are physically doing.
If, for example, someone interrupts you rudely in a shop queue and you didn’t have a chance to object, that interruption can return to your mind many, many times. You re-run the scene, you say in your head what you wish you said in reality to the interrupter and so on.
After you’ve had these thoughts a few times you might want to drop them but they’re ‘sticky’ – they keep coming back to bother you (I’m assuming that in real life you won’t be able to make your objections clear to this person who may be a stranger who has vanished into the crowd.)
Staying in the moment for any length of time can become more difficult because of the re-running of these thoughts. In other words it makes it harder to practise mindfulness. And such thoughts can come between you and your sleep.
For me the tactic that helps is to use a phrase like ‘Not happening now’ to interrupt the thought when it comes back and then get on with whatever it is I’m doing. If the thought stays around for a while, I don’t get involved with it – I just say ‘Not happening now’ and go back to whatever else I’m doing.
It’s a simple tactic that works better the more you use it as your brain associates the phrase with moving past the thought.
To build on this: My online course Easy Mindfulness can help you to develop a life-enhancing mindfulness practice.
Image by Nareeta Martin
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