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Managing Invasive Thoughts

Invasive thoughts have their appointment-otherwise they can wait.

Easier said than done but it's an aspiration I have for myself.

I'm a coach, I help people manage their thoughts and behaviors to get better outcomes. I study this stuff and I believe in it passionately.

And I am a human being, imperfect and evolving-I succumb to the moments of weakness we all experience.

Here's a few habits I've established that help me stay focused and on task when those moments of self-doubt and fear rise up.

1. Give it an appointment-just the act of putting time on the calendar to allow my thoughts to run amok has helped tremendously in the struggle to stay focused. I know there's time for it, not now but later-and maybe by the time later comes around the fear, invasive thought or doubt will have abated or evolved on its own.

2. Sit in it-sometimes those feelings are real big and they are impatient, they don't, won't, can't wait for their afternoon appointment. So I let them do their thing, but they get a time limit. I'll often journal my thoughts during this time to facilitate their exorcism from my brain.

3. Practice Mindfulness-it might sound similar to sitting in it-the difference is not indulging in the feeling but being more of a third party observer to the feelings that are happening. There's plenty of advice from mindfulness practitioners who advocate viewing our thoughts like leaves in a river flowing by. They appear, we notice them and then let them go their way. Jack Kornfeld had a great interview in the NYT during the early days of the pandemic where he said that "feelings are your organism trying to handle things."

Expressing gratitude to ourselves for our automatic self-protective qualities is a way to acknowledge, reset and move on with a sense of agency and purpose.


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