How to Chase Away Dark Thoughts

Can you relate to this story?

I had been working with this 16 year old for a few weeks and she was a naturally quiet, introverted young lady, but this session, she came in feeling very sad.

We spoke a little about when that feeling started etc but I moved her on to what she had achieved since our last session together which was 2 weeks previously. She came up with 2 things - both of which were pretty significant given her emotional challenges.

I pushed her for more. And together we came up with 6 or 7 things she had achieved and I started talking to her about being proud of those achievements.

I confess, I did go over the top a little on the pride thing but then when I asked her where the sadness had gone, with somewhat of a shocked face, she replied, "It's gone!"

The reality is, our minds cannot do more than one emotion at a time. They can cycle through them pretty quickly as I guess we have all experienced fear turning to joy when something we thought was lost was found. But there is only one emotional parking space to be filled at any one time!  So one has to move out to let the next one in!

What this little exercise showed this girl was that she experienced what she was focusing on. She had allowed sadness to park up, invited it into her mind and then made it supper, gave it a bed for the night and was still entertaining it. When I asked her to focus on pride, sad HAD to move out and make room for pride.

What I can't guarantee is that sad won't come back but now she knows she has a way of moving it on.

Gratitude is another really strong and powerful emotion to focus on when those darker emotions fill the slot - and there is a lovely saying that I sometimes use - shadows can't exist in bright light (they only exist when you block that light!!)

By focusing on positive emotions, these lighter, brighter feelings overpower the darker 'shadow' emotions.

So if you are down, or sad, see if you can turn your focus onto achievements, on to things you are proud of, on to things that make you happy. It may not stop those shadows from creeping back in when the focus is removed but it is away of teaching your mind that you can turn that light back on at any time!

I find this to be a really powerful technique and over time, your brain learns to call up those happier thoughts as soon as the dark ones try and park up!  What about you? What do you think of this technique??

Published by Caroline Cavanagh Clinical Hypnotherapist and author of Anxiety Alchemy. on |

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