Reply To: How can I derail thought loops?

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Oh, my heart aches for you! Trying to tell yourself to “forget about it” can make the thoughts stick more–pain doesn’t just go away. I try to practice mindfulness to help pay attention, and forgiveness for when I don’t. I am clear that my brain works differently than most of the world–and have figured out (most of the time) when to forgive myself for oopsies, and when to find a new way to remember stuff. Carrying around hurtful episodes doesn’t help anyone, but can make us grumpy and resentful. We can’t change the past, but can change the way we handle the memories when they arise. Acknowledge them, and then tell them that we don’t need them to needle us anymore. The memory won’t go away, but we can change how we react to the memory. Stewing in it is awful for our minds and our bodies. When I can’t shake something easily, I try to find a positive action or thought to focus on–counting true blessings, reminding myself what I am am good at, doing something physical like go for a run or a walk,healing the relationships I can–forgiveness takes real work, or to go do something for someone else. I can use my distractfulness to my advantage at those times. And most important is to not internalize other’s words. We need our own healthy helpful voice in our heads. When we hear the old hurtful words coming at us, then it is time to deflect them. I have several short sentences that I use: “Just keep moving”, “Breathe”, “Breathe again”, “Yes, you can”, “It is OK”, “YOU are OK”, “What is next?”, “Settle down–find some calm”, “Focus”, “Do your best and leave the results to God”, and the spiritual part of my life takes God’s name close to my heart when I most need it. It takes time and practice. Annoying thoughts can just be thought of as “just so many irritating gnats”–let them flit about, and focus on something else. Begin by realizing that YOU are in control.