Recently, one of my kids got upset about something someone said to her during a play date at our house and went up into her room. Between my kids and the kids over, it took me a few minutes to realize she wasn't playing with everyone.
When I found her, she told me that this girl had said something mean to her, and now her (own) sister would be mad at her, too. This made absolutely no sense to me, that one of my daughters would be mad at this daughter because of our guest saying something to her...
But my daughter believed this with all her heart.
So now I was stuck. We have five kids running around downstairs (OK, three of them were mine, but still, it was chaos!), another four people coming for dinner, for a total of 14, and she is hiding in her room over her belief that her sister will be mad at her? Aargh!
I normally try to reason her out of it, but this time I was a little out of patience and truthfully wasn't up for a long philosophical discussion with the pros and cons and a lot of back and forth (and I had left a pot on the stove, cooking downstairs!).
So, I just told her flat out: "Your thoughts aren't real. You can't touch them, and although I know you believe them, they are not true. Can you think about that for a moment? You are acting as though your thoughts are facts! If you are going to have thoughts that you want to believe in, have thoughts that make you feel good, like "everyone loves me," or "I'm the best!" instead of thoughts that make you sad..."
She looked at me like I had grown two heads but after about a minute got up and went downstairs and began playing with the other kids.
I shared this experience with a patient of mine, who was also having thoughts and had forgotten that they were simply thoughts, and not holy writ. I'm not sure how much she got out of it, but the woman who was in the room and training told me afterwards that she wanted to remember this coaching and had found it extremely valuable.
So I ask you... are your thoughts real? Do they deserve the power you have given them? And if you are giving them power, are they empowering?
This is not a way we are accustomed to thinking, but being able to distinguish that the thoughts you are having are simply thoughts, and not real, can work wonders for your mood!
I imagine you're reading this and thinking, "Well, she doesn't mean me, she means all the other readers..." Nope, actually, I'm talking to you.