Following my previous post Thought Challenging or Thought Accepting, here is a few tasks that may help to explore on how to “accept” your thought without causing too much emotional distress.
Pick a word that may cause slight distress in you (e.g. “cockroach”, “snake”, “work”, “boss”, “kids”, “boyfriend”, “presentation” etc). Now repeat this particular word as quick as you can (while still making sure that the word is pronounced clearly) for 30 seconds.
This tasks doesn’t make you feel better about “presentation” itself, but after repeating the word for so many times, you probably can no longer take the word so literally – it loses its meaning. Same goes to negative thought (e.g. “I’m a failure”, “everyone hates me”). If those thoughts pop up in your mind, try to see them only as some words, accept them as they are, but not to relate yourself to them, as if it’s just some unrelated persons saying it to you.
Sit down in an undisturbed place, close your eyes and imagine a tiger (or a dog if you find it difficult to picture a tiger in your mind). Let the tiger does whatever it wants to do there in your mind, not to control what it does or doesn’t. If the tiger stays quietly, let it be; if it moves around, let it be, too. Do this for about 5 minutes.
Next, for 5 minutes, try NOT to think about tiger at all. Do not think about tiger. Whenever it pops up in your mind, suppress it, avoid it.
What do you realize? Which part of task 2 is harder? To accept the tiger being there and does whatever it likes, or to suppress the tiger, avoid the tiger?
Take a few minutes to practise to complete the following sentence, “Right now I’m aware of …”, and putting different descriptions at the ending each time. For example, “Right now, I’m aware of the brightness of the screen”; “Right now, I’m aware of the sound of the air-conditioner”; “Right now, I’m aware of some numbness on my left foot”; “Right now I’m aware of my thoughts on completing the homework”. Name and describe, avoid making judgement. By using language to describe things, you get to control your attention and get to connect to your field of consciousness, rather than its content, so you’re becoming like an observer to your experience. This task requires more practice!
Now imagine this: A and B fell over badly in public.
A thinks, “this is so embarrassing, ah, but it’s so funny at the same time”, so he laughs at his own carelessness and let go of it.
B thinks, “this is so embarrassing! Everyone is going to laugh at me and watch me like a clown”, he gets so angry and ashamed.
Most of the time, it’s how we relate ourselves to those incidents, thoughts, feelings etc, it’s really not what that happens. If we choose to calm ourselves down and accept whatever that happens, that come to our minds, and allow ourselves to feel the waves of our emotions, the discomfort will soon no longer be “discomforting”.