Over the weekend, I was mentioning to a friend that one of my strategies for managing anxiety, negative self-talk, and "What If?" thinking is, "Okay, so I'm having that thought…"
A thought can occur to me, I can acknowledge it, but I make an effort to not validate its content or have an emotional reaction to it. Instead, I say to myself, "Okay, so I'm having that thought…" and I continue on with my day. After a little while, you get pretty good at identifying what thoughts add value to your life, or require your attention, and which ones are just chatter or needless fear.
I have like ten things in my toolbox--ten phrases that make my day-to-day life easier--and this is probably #1.
I told my friend about "Okay, so I'm having that thought" and she managed to make it even better.
"I like the idea of the 'teflon mind.' You just let the thoughts roll off."
I'd heard versions of this before: specifically, letting your thoughts be like grains of rice in a rainstick, and making a conscious choice regarding which ones you focus on.
I like the "Teflon mind" even better. I like the idea of picturing unnecessary, even uncomfortable or frightening thoughts, as beads of oil in a Teflon pan, and letting them roll off without a trace.
It's not easy, of course. But if anything makes rewiring your brain easier, it's having a good visual.