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Dancing with our thoughts. Saturday October 11, 2014

I recently read something that got me thinking about the critical thoughts that permeate my mind and how I deal with them. The focus was on what we do when we feel attacked by critical or difficult thoughts.

The text asked the reader to imagine the thoughts as being someone running towards you trying to attack you, and then to visualise responding in three separate ways. Firstly, reacting to the thought by freezing and allowing the thought to push you over. This reaction allows the attacker to keep attacking. The second response is to try to run away from the attacker but the attacker just keeps chasing. The final response portrayed is to fight back.

This highlighted that the three ways often employed are "fight, flight or freeze". All of which require energy to be centred around the negative attacking thought.

An alternative approach suggested was to be more welcoming of the thought, acknowledging it and inviting the thought to dance with you, thereby offering compassionate curiosity. This can allow for light to be shone upon the dark thoughts, thereby reducing their attacking power. So, rather than being afraid of the thought, become enquiring as to where it has come from, whose belief is it or whose rule does it belong to? Question yourself as to if it is a rule or a belief that you truly share, or is it something that you have adopted from elsewhere.

I have noticed that I often have thoughts that commence with "I should", "I must", "I must never"...I have started to try and take note when I have such thoughts and then at the end of the day reflect back and work out why I have thought in that way, where have I picked that rule up from?

It's not easy recognising these thought patterns, they happen quite frequently and so quickly it can be hard to notice them. It's hard work having to be so mindful but by looking into the thoughts more closely, rather than trying to flee or fight them, it's providing an opportunity to take a bit of their power away and reduce the ability to be attacked by them so strongly.

So next time you want to fight, flight or freeze, try dancing instead, and offering compassion to your thoughts so you can shine some light on them and bring them out of the dark and make them a little less scary.

A Moodscope member.

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Di Murphey Sat, Oct 11th 2014 @ 6:05am

Dearest Rosie,
"Compassionate curiosity" as a healing strategy while dancing with one's thoughts has already taken the fear away just by reading your insightful post. I really appreciate the idea of shining light on them to bring them out of the dark. Great post. More, please.
Di Murphey

Anonymous Sat, Oct 11th 2014 @ 6:20am

Dear Rosie,
Thank you forever for this excellent idea that you worded so well. I will keep it in my heart and mind.

Pawan Mittal Sat, Oct 11th 2014 @ 7:00am

Beautiful article Rosie. I am glad I joined moodscope:)

Diana Sat, Oct 11th 2014 @ 7:18am

Possibly - a quick prayer is the answer to this rather dire situation ?

Anonymous Sat, Oct 11th 2014 @ 7:52am

Rosie, this is a great idea and thanks for bringing it to us! As you say it's often hard to recognise the thought pattern but, practice and awareness...
So, I'm dancing if anyone's asking! :-D
Love from the room above the garage.

Hopeful One Sat, Oct 11th 2014 @ 7:59am

Great post Rosie. Dare I bore fellow Moodscopers with a bit of science this early in the morning? Here goes.

Our emotions are regulated by three interacting systems one of which-the flight and fright -systems sits in the amgdala in the brain.Inherited from our hunter gatherer distant past it it has only one gear and works fast sending out a warning burst of cortisol (bad) which we needed then(Is the lion going to attack me? .defend?...fight or freeze?... lie doggo).The lion is now replaced by criticism whether external or internal in our modern world but the amgdala does not distinguish- it sends out the cortisol regardless .In order to keep this system under control we need to generate counteracting compassionate thought generating a burst of oxytocin (the mothering/soothing chemical and endorphin feel good chemical from the hypothalamus/pituitary gland sitting above the amgdala) . One way is to try and exchange our internal critic with a more loving kindly forgiving one like you suggest. Another is a loving kindness meditation( if that is your cup of tea.) which keeps oxytocin floating over a longer period in the background .Both will keep the cortisol in check. The third is the activating /achieving srotonin system which is not really relevant to Rosie's post

I will lighten the mood generated by this post with this quip( remember laughter is the best medicine?)

A young girl is standing in front of her mother.She is asking her 'Mum when was I downloaded ?'

Well I tried

Anonymous Sat, Oct 11th 2014 @ 8:57am

Dear dear RATG, Glad you're dancing and not wavering on a rung of a ladder.
Dear Rosie - super blog, well written for us all to understand!
Karen :)

Anonymous Sat, Oct 11th 2014 @ 10:12am

I can remember a flight fight or freeze situation. It was a physical knocking on my door by a woman intent on raging about the behaviour of my son. I had a stone in my stomach but invited her in for a cup of tea. Her blustery mood deflated and she didn't know how to react. - So in effect instead of shutting the door (flight) or raging back (fight) or looking aghast (freeze) I had engaged her (danced) I only recognise that I took the better option when I read Rosie's post. It wasn't a thought it was a real woman. Incidentally my son was innocent which made for a better outcome in the end. It does prove however that dancing changes the scenario. M

Anonymous Sat, Oct 11th 2014 @ 12:10pm

Beautiful blog today Rosie; thank-you. Really helpful, and such a lovely idea - dancing with our thoughts ... Frankie

Juia Sat, Oct 11th 2014 @ 12:53pm

Yes great blog Rosie. It came at just the right time for me as I woke up thinking about an email I had received which had set me on a path of worry and fear that her words would affect me adversely and long term. Too complicated to explain here but I was wondering how to deal with the negative effects of the email. It has been preying on my mind. So.. after I had read your blog Rosie, I decided to confront my fears, stay with them for a while and gradually they disappeared or faded. I feel so much better just for doing that.

Anonymous Sat, Oct 11th 2014 @ 1:44pm

Karen, I'm probably doing both a la Harold Lloyd! :-) thank you x.

Linda Sat, Oct 11th 2014 @ 7:34pm

Wonderful post. Thanks so much for sharing.

Anonymous Sat, Oct 11th 2014 @ 9:20pm

Thank you to everyone for taking the time to comment. It was good to read my own blog today, I needed reminding that I can dance with my thoughts....they have been coming thick and fast this past week and I have sunk into a bit of a low. Time to take stock of where I am and draw upon my toolkit to lift myself. Knowing other people have gained something from the blog is so heartwarming xx

heather Sat, Oct 11th 2014 @ 9:35pm

Late as always, I wonder if anyone will read this, but Dancing with Wolves, leaps to mind. And yes I have a set of embarrassing or very uncomfortable memories that besiege me and when they arrive it is a warning that I am going "down". I have always been able to do nothing but try to push them away but now I am actually remembering them and dancing with them and examining why they make me feel so awful. Thanks Rozie. Love from Heather xx

Julia Sun, Oct 12th 2014 @ 8:37am

Hello Heather. I too have many bad memories that I always tend to push out of my thoughts but I am going to try Rosie's suggestion from now on. It's a bit of a revelation!

Amanda Mon, Oct 13th 2014 @ 8:59am

Thank you for this; very simple imagery but so powerful. It is really helping me to manage my thoughts rather than let them manage me. I hope that should you be feeling down at some time, you will remember how much long lasting help you gave a stranger with these words.

Tracie James Tue, Mar 17th 2015 @ 12:02pm

Wow! What a simple powerful tool to have.
It will take a lot off practice catching and recognising those intrusive, negative, destructive thoughts. Then to dance with them with compassion, to change the patterns of life, will be hard work.
I must say it will be well worth the effort.
I am already visualising situations where I know I get attacked by unfounded fears and am changing how I deal with these thoughts. It's good to practice using such tools outside of the storm so they become second nature.
I'm combining my knowledge of DBT and CAT with the tool you have offered.
Thank you.
Tracie xx

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