Preparing for intrusive thoughts

I know it’s coming – usually when I least expect it, my brain gets suddenly ambushed with garbage thought processes.

Even (or especially?) when I think I’ve been making progress on my mental resiliency, I somehow always caught off guard when I lose my target mental state due to some intrusive thought.

Historically, what happens then is I feel bad because of the negative thought (e.g. oh yeah I have to file taxes soon…I hate doing that). That part isn’t a big deal. The bad part is when I start feeling bad ABOUT feeling bad. This garbage feedback loop is just so useless, but lately at least I’ve been consciously trying to pay more attention to it.

And as a bonus, I sometimes then start thinking about how I was supposed to be making mental progress, but now I have this failure, how could this happen, what am I even doing…yeah it’s a real bad mental loop that feeds on itself and can effectively put me out of commission for hours.

What I’ve been trying to do lately is to identify and catch this process before it can start creating a feedback loop. So as soon as I identify that I’m feeling a garbage thought, I tell myself that it’s ok to feel that way, and that the intrusive thought/feeling is inherently transient, and as long as I don’t actively engage with it, it will most likely dissipate pretty quickly.

Sounds simple, but in practice it’s extremely hard to do (at least for me).

This is me telling myself that my immediate mental state is extremely important to me, so let’s face this issue head-on, right now, before it does too much damage and burns a ton of energy. Call it ’emergency mindfulness’ if you will – whatever I need to do to stop this train wreck before it happens.

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