Strategy 1 – Change your thought for another that’s more useful.
If you have a sticky negative thought that refuses to go away, then write out a replacement thought. For example, if your mind says to you “You’re going to fail this exam” write out a new thought that says something like “I know that I’ll do fine in this exam”.
Every time you hear your old Monkey Mind thought – swap it out for your new thought. Make sure your new thought is written down so that you use the same words each time.
Rather than eliminating or stopping the old thought, you are simply layering a new, positive thought on top. Extra stars for writing a new thought that’s funny or a bit silly (brains sometimes like that).
Strategy 2 – Sing your thoughts so they have different meanings
Singing your thoughts (especially thoughts that make you feel uncomfortable or edgy) is a great way to quickly rewire your brain! If you’re in the car all by yourself, you can sing your thoughts at the top of your voice – or even yell them out loud. The trick is to choose a melody or song that has a different mood to it than your thoughts.
So if your thought is about how bad you are at something, or how scared you are about something, you could choose an upbeat, hip-hop or jazz tune. Sing your thoughts to this tune to change the meaning of the thoughts! try it and see!
Sometimes you may prefer slower, more soothing songs to sing to – and that will work just as well.
What’s happening in your head is that your original thought was associated with fear, worry or concern and now with your singing is associated with feeling upbeat, happy and cheerful. At the worst, your brain will be confused and at best, it will feel less anxious and even happy.
Strategy 3 – Write them out and then put them into a container (try not to open the container all the time)
For this exercise, imagine that you have a large cooking pot on your desk – and it has a lid. You can make a lot of noise with the lid if you bang it down. Or you can have a quiet plastic lid if you prefer things to be calmer. If you want, you could actually find a container and keep it on your desk.
When your mind is busy and the thoughts won’t stop coming, you can imagine opening the lid to this cooking pot, so you can put things into it.
Take a piece of paper or a group of small cards and on each one, write down the thoughts that your head is saying to you. Be careful not to think about or evaluate what it is saying. Try not to make judgements about the sentences your mind is giving you.
When all the thoughts are written and you have put them into your imaginary cooking pot (or real container) you can place the lid on firmly and leave them there.
Next, choose a thought that will move you into your next activity. For example, if you would like to have a break next, think of a peaceful and relaxing thought, or if you have work to do, think positively about how you will tackle your next project.