Struggle thoughts and counter thoughts

At this time of year now when we are noticing a lot less light in the morning and evening, it can be quite typical for people to notice a drop in energy and mood and experience sleep disruption. There did seem to be a sense of this in the group this week so we did something a little different to create a little energy as we investigated some troublesome little thoughts. Our room became a brain and each of us a thought. The difficult thoughts would present themselves whilst the other thoughts sought to neutralise them. This allowed some physical movement and some cognitive acrobatics.

The first thought to present itself was a belief: ‘I can’t do this’ in response to trying something new. This belief had the potential to quit or miss out on things. But the other thoughts reasoned with this belief ‘you don’t know that until you try’. ‘You can practise’, ‘no-one can do the things they haven’t learned to yet’. This quietened down ‘I can’t do this’ and allowed some patience with self and an acceptance that it is ok to not be able to do some things when we start out; but it’s important that we try.

The next thought said ‘I’m so tired I don’t think I’ll manage my day’. Balance was quite quickly on the scene here with a reminder that we could prioritise some things and that we could manage what we needed to. Practicality came in with a few suggestions too that if we we able to have a more gentle day we could do some relaxing things like have a bath and feel better rested for tomorrow. If our day was a bit more demanding we could have a shower to revive us and we would manage. what is required.

Worry showed up on the scene this morning too with beliefs that if we have always been this way we won’t change. Evidence came into the conversation here and asked if worry ever changes the outcome or ever made a situation different? Worry conceded that actually sometimes it got worse and didn’t change anything at all! Worry sometimes caused people to avoid and miss out on things. Bad things still happened whether they worried about it or not. In fact worry seemed to reproduce itself into bigger and bigger worries, and the worry about worry could cause another whole set of problems intruding into not being able to focus on other things or speak to people and causing distressing feelings. Identity spoke up too and said just because worry is something you have always done, it doesn’t mean that is who you are and need always to be that way. You will still be you if you worried less. Everyone has worries, that is quite normal but we made an agreement to spend a bit of time over the next week analysing the evidence for seeing if worry makes us feel better or changes anything. It was also suggested that a specific time could be given for worrying rather than it dominating the diary everyday.

A more stubborn relative then intruded into the conversation. Obsessively believing that ‘I am responsible for everything and everyone and if I think about a possible danger somewhere for someone and don’t do all I can to protect people from this danger and someone gets hurt then it’s all my fault, I’m the only one to blame. OCD then compulsively convinced us that unless we take the time and energy to do all sorts of precautionary and checking activities and carefully going through all sorts of mental check lists then disaster may occur which we could have prevented. Admittedly OCD was harder to quieten down. We concluded that it would be very frightening to tackle as we would just have to try really hard to not do the stuff it was convincing us that we needed to do. We will take it slowly at first and check a little less to start with.

A big thanks to the group who were willing to get involved in this exercise today in a slightly different way. We learned some new things from each other about how we think affects us, some new understanding and some new ways to start trying to change our troublesome thinking.

One thought on “Struggle thoughts and counter thoughts

  1. A more impromptu session, which benefited greatly from that, given the group’s collective experiences in the week. As always never other than kindness and support from all, and expansive informing discussion on mental health and healing. Ta. Ash.

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