Thank you to David Hatfield for introducing me to this exercise.
We often get stuck in cyclical thoughts and feelings, which take us away from living our lives.
This is a simple exercise to help manage cyclical thoughts and/or feelings:
- Consciously become aware of a cyclical thought/feeling you are having or have been having recently.
- Name it. Get a good sense of the puzzle you are trying to solve in your head and how it makes you feel overall.
- Figure out what part of your body this thought/feeling affects the most. It may be your head or it may be something like a tension, constriction, or heaviness somewhere else in your body.
- When you know where it’s located, give it a shape, a texture, and a color. Don’t think too hard about this, just the first thing that comes to mind.
- Once you have that take the mental image you have come up with of the thought/feeling and throw it out. Literally imagine something like throwing it into a trash bin, over a cliff, or burning it. Whatever inspires you.
- Then ask the question, “what should be here?” Don’t over think this. Use the first thing that comes up, give it again a shape, texture, and color. If what comes up feels good, let that feeling permeate all of your body like the way water might be absorbed by a sponge. If it’s yucky then take that mental image and throw it out again.
- Do this repeatedly until the cyclical thought/feeling is gone or you feel like you aren’t interested in engaging with that thought again for the time being.
- Go back to life as usual. If the thought/feeling shows up again, give it a shape, texture, and color and throw it out. Just keep throwing it out if it keeps coming back.
- Once the thought/feeling stops repeating, mentally register that it has stopped. The acknowledgement that the pattern has changed is important, as it affirms that things are different.
Why this exercise helps manage cyclical thoughts and/or feelings:
This exercise does two things:
- It interrupts the neurology of repetition around a mental pattern you have. All neurological patterns are strengthen through repetition. If you engage with negative thoughts in a loop, the thoughts will become ever more imprinted in your neurology. If you actively decide to disengage from those patterns, you break the circuit in the neurology and make your brain develop a new neurological pattern.
- It empowers you by showing you that you are able to take something negative that you feel dominated by, throw it out by choice, and by choice replace it with something else. Empowerment is a powerful motivator, which is often what we need when we feel trapped, helpless, or just plain bad.
To read more about the brain and cyclical thinking, please click here.
Samantha Lotti is a biodynamic craniosacral therapist, acupuncturist and herbalist in Chicago, Illinois. For more information: www.biodynamichealth.com.