In a powerful study involving the BBC with the University of Liverpool, they tested for what were the main causes of anxiety and depression.
They thought it would be what bad things have happened to a person in their lives. But actually, it came down to two core factors. It wasn’t the past traumas or the events or situations like bullying that happened. Instead it was, number one, dwelling on our negative thoughts, and number two, self-criticism and self-blame, putting ourselves down or lack of self-love.
So it’s not necessarily the situation or the problem that we’re facing which causes those anxious thoughts, but it’s how much we allow those repetitive negative thoughts to stay in the mind and how much self-blame that we incur. That’s what keeps our nervous system overstimulated. How much time do we spend in one of those modes, either overthinking or self-blame? Let’s reflect on that and let’s become more aware of our minds, so we can take responsibility for our moods and speak to our minds with compassion.
Regular meditation trains our conscious mind to observe these thoughts and emotions. Then eventually, with practice, we go beyond the mind, beyond the intellect, to just becoming that witnessing awareness within which thoughts and emotions just come and go.
Negative thoughts and emotions are just like clouds going in and out of our consciousness. If we let them come and go, it’s okay. But often we grab these thoughts, we grab these emotions, we identify with them and then we make them worse, because we attach too much importance to them. Instead, we can observe these patterns going in and out of the mind with awareness, and we ourselves identify with being the entire sky within which thoughts come and go.
Of course, we can’t be meditating all day. So how do we handle those particularly stubborn or repetitive negative thoughts, especially if they’re about other things, people, situations ourselves? I’d love for you to experience the New Groove technique (found within the free 10- Day Coronavirus Challenge) as another method of dealing with those repetitive thoughts.