Vibrant Mind: Skill 3
Skill 3: Beyond Reframing: Cognitive Tips and Tricks
Skill Instruction Videos Can Be Found Here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmH8iryD5abTUlk6N31DKiQ
There are many cognitive skills you can use to decrease problematic thoughts. Reframing offers you a powerful way to change your thinking style. Reframing is the easiest skill to grasp, and therefore I teach it first to Vibrant Mind students. There are three more skills I will talk about in this article: thought
The ranking of the most effective good thinking skills is as follows (based on my experience as a counselor and a student of rational thought):
These thinking skills require time and patience. They have two things in common. First, you must recognize that your unhelpful thinking style exists. (You have to recognize the link between negative thoughts and not feeling good). Second, the skills require deep, rhythmic breathing to work. Breathing creates a pause within which you can manage your thoughts.
Cognitive skills affect the way you think. You will notice that alongside thoughts there are emotions (feelings). Let the emotions be until we get to a more complex skill that balances thought and emotion. In other words, focus on getting your thoughts in order first. Target the looping thoughts that get in the way of your success.
Setting Aside for Later
If you notice you are recycling the same thought over and over (rumination or preoccupation) and these thoughts are painful or distracting, it might be time to say to yourself :
“I’m setting this thought (or topic) aside until bedtime.”
Then, before trying to sleep, take out a notepad or put on some music that facilitates relaxation. Allow yourself to ‘obsess’ on your topic while writing for 15 – 30 minutes. At the end of the writing session tell yourself:
“It’s time to put this away for now.”
If you continue to ruminate the next day, repeat the skill.
This is a quick, in the moment method to stop rumination. It allows you to drop the thought. Imagine a stop sign or a ‘halt’ hand in your mind’s eye, take a deep breath quickly and stop the thought. As you drop the thought, imagine it drops from your mind. Adding a blink of your eyes, head turn, or standing up pairs this skill with physical movement and helps the cognitive shuffle.
This describes deliberate, conscious distraction from negative thought patterns. Clients report this is the most natural choice. It’s tempting to use only distraction as a way to manage negative thoughts. This puts you at a disadvantage because over time it’s simply avoidance. It does not teach you how to engage with the thoughts and change them.
Final Words on Thought Skills
Think of your chosen skill as sharpening the frontal part of the brain. The pre-frontal cortex is
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