RAIN – You can not eliminate negative thoughts

““One way to eliminate self negating thoughts and behavior is by gaining more understanding through realizing that you cannot force others to see that what you feel is real.” ― Iyanla Vanzant

 

Of the 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts that we have every day, approximately 70% of them of them are negative. Just the thought of those numbers would be sufficient to make you feel depressed. However, one of the most effective mindfulness techniques that you can use to help manage those negative thoughts is the RAIN method. It’s a 4-step mindful meditation activity that can help soothe distress; reduce the number of negative thoughts; help lift you from a bad mood, and generally reduce the number and frequency of negative thought patterns.

So what does RAIN stand for and how do you use it?


R= Recognize

Recognize the thoughts or feelings that are hurting you. You can even give a name to them. Having a name for your thoughts and feelings helps shine a light on them so you have something to work with. Strangely enough, I call my negative thoughts”cow” thoughts. I am reminded that as cows ruminate, so do we on the negative. Hence the name.

A= Accept

Acknowledge that negative thoughts are your present reality. This is a way to put the feelings in the spotlight, instead of letting them quietly fester and potentially worsen. I recognise that something has triggered those negative thoughts. Something from the past that has come to the present moment. Or a thought and fear for the future, where I feel unable to deal with the thought. These “past-future fear thoughts” come to me in the present moment and I have come to say that they do not have any effect on my present moment reality.  

I= Investigate

Use a childlike curiosity to delve into these thoughts or feelings. Answer the “Who, What, When, Where, Why?” questions. What caused these thoughts? Are these realistic to have? What actions are possible? Try to investigate the whole scope of the feelings involved with the thoughts. For me personally, I sometimes write down the “5 W’s” and try to answer them. Taking the time to do this, actually stops the rumination and escalation of feelings. It makes me step back and reflect.


N= Not Self

The negative thoughts and feelings you have are not who you are. They are simply an experience you are having and will arise and fall away if you let them. This happens naturally. Your thoughts and feelings are impermanent. Knowing this can help you step back from them and move more fluidly within the ebb and flow of the human experience we all share that includes negative and positive thoughts and emotions that endlessly come and go. For me, my thoughts are not a reflection of the real me. The real me is always present. Here. Now. My thoughts are self-actualised memories and fears and hopes for the future. Not what I represent in the present moment. I hope that makes sense to you.

Anyway, the next time you feel a wave of stress, give this a try!

I leave you with the following quote:

“Only in the world of mathematics do two negatives multiply into a positive.” Abby Morel

 

The Theatre of the Mind, hallucinations and Mindful Presence

“How the theater of the mind could be generated by the machinery of the brain” – Charles Bonnet (1720-1793)

A couple of articles I have read recently have resonated with both memories of my grandmother and also my current mindfulness practice.

The theatre of the mind quote at the start of this article comes from Charles Bonnet, a natural scientist, naturalist and philosophical writer. In 1760, he described a condition now called Charles Bonnet Syndrome, in which vivid, complex visual hallucinations occur in psychologically normal people. He documented it in his 87-year-old grandfather, who was nearly blind from cataracts in both eyes but perceived men, women, birds, carriages, buildings, tapestries and scaffolding patterns. It is quoted in a TED talk given by Oliver Sacks. To see the talk, click on the link below:

http://www.ted.com/talks/oliver_sacks_what_hallucination_reveals_about_our_minds?language=en

My grandmother, Lorna (born in 1914, who died in 1998) was blind for over 60 years of her life. She was born with perfect sight and for the first 24 years had no problems at all. Just after she and grampy got married in June 1938, she developed septicemia and subsequently lost her sight. She was a fighter all her life; having 3 children; bringing up two of them and trying really hard to lead a normal life. I remember visiting her in her later years and often she would talk about people as if they were there in the room with her. I now wonder if she was impacted with Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Else, it was her fantastic memory. I can still remember taking her shopping and her ability to be able to remember the prices of goods was astounding.

The other article I read concerned mindful presence. In it, the author dissects the phrase into two sections:

Mindfulness is simply a clear, non-judgmental awareness of your inner and outer worlds. In particular, it’s an awareness of the flow of experience in your inner world – an alert observing of your thoughts, emotions, body sensations, desires, memories, images, personality dynamics, attitudes, etc.

Presence refers to the stability of mindfulness, which means the degree to which you are grounded in awareness itself.

Often over the past week I have been caught up in the elements of the day, but, I have also had those moments (and they are getting more frequent) of a sense of calm; of being in the moment; without the rush of thoughts, feelings, emotions. If you have a couple of minutes, you might like to read the full article her:

http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practice/what-is-mindful-presence

As always, I leave you with a quote:

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF STRUCTURED HELP THROUGH RAPID MEMORY CHANGE

“One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.” ― Rita Mae Brown

I love this quote so much I’ve used it again. Further to the previous article I wrote on memories – Are memories really real? How do they work?, I wanted to follow up on the idea that memories are not “real”, rather they are reconstructions of past events, recreated every time we try to recall the event. This means that memories are plastic. They are malleable, they can take different forms. And if you come to understand this, then you begin to realise that all of our memories – constructed every time we recall that past event, incident, trauma, moment, etc. – can be changed.

Yes, you can change your memories, as much as your memories can change you.

In fact, thinking about this, you begin to realise that everything we experience in life; the adverts on the TV; TV programmes themselves; movies; books; magazines; etc are stories that are designed to be imprinted on your sub-consciousness and then reborn within your own personal context.

Even in the work environment; stories and anecdotes abound; marketing plans are devised to inform the purchaser of the benefits of product X, or service Y. In the B2B [business-2-business] world, we even spend money and effort asking our customers to give references on the superiority of our products and services so that they can be used to sell those products and services to others.

So, stories and the way we capture, store and reference them in our memories is the glue that holds humans together in society, in work, in social situations and in personal relationships.

So, if memories are not fixed, but are reconstructed every time you come to access one, then it means that it is possible to adjust that memory – somewhat like how you adjust the pictures and sounds on the TV that you watch. You can change the contrast, picture depth perspective, colour tone, brightness, surround sound, type of bass, almost anything is possible. So to, it is possible to change your memories.

Now, the art of changing memories is vast and the techniques do different that I could write every day for the rest of my life and probably not cover every possible approach, However, I like to think of a framework that can help focus the approach you take. These are:

Self Help & Self-Talk: These are the guided self-help guides you can buy in the shops. Think of the Paul McKenna “I can make you rich / thin / stop smoking” style. These are there to help set up a set of stories in your subconscious and through habit change [I’ll talk about the power and harm of habits in a separate post].

Structure Help through counselling. There are a myriad different types of counselling. They generally fall into the following categories:

Cognitive and behavioural therapies:
Behavioural therapies are based on the way you think (cognitive) and/or the way you behave. These therapies recognise that it is possible to change or recondition, our thoughts or behaviour to overcome specific problems.
# Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
# Behavioural therapy
# Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT)
# Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Psychoanalytical and psychodynamic therapies
Psychoanalytical and psychodynamic therapies are based on an individual’s unconscious thoughts and perceptions that have developed throughout their childhood, and how these affect their current behaviour and thoughts.
# Jungian therapy, Psychoanalysis, Psychoanalytic therapy and Psychodynamic therapy

Humanistic therapies:
Humanistic therapies focus on self-development, growth and responsibilities. They seek to help individuals recognise their strengths, creativity and choice in the ‘here and now’.
# Existential therapy
# Gestalt therapy
# Human Givens psychotherapy. I would love to do this programme, but would need to invest thousands of £’s, something I do not have.
# Person-centred therapy (also known as “client-centred” counselling)
# Psychosynthesis
# Reality therapy
# Solution-focused brief therapy
# Transactional analysis
# Transpersonal psychology

New and Developing therapies:
Although psychological therapies generally fall into the categories above, there are also a number of other specific therapies that are emerging.

# Equine assisted therapy – I have seen this in action and find it amazing.
# Integral Eye Movement Therapy (IEMT)
Family & Group therapy
Neuro Linguistic Programming
Hypnotherapy
Mindfulness

As you can see, there are many approaches that can be taken and I have trained and been certified in a number of them [those in bold & Italics]. Most of them take time and a significant investment in both the therapist and the client. Depending on the condition, this can be months or even years. There are benefits to a gentle approach to change work, but for some people, rapid change is what they are after.

One of best rapid change therapies is Integral Eye Movement Therapy or IEMT. The Integral Eye Movement Technique is a brief change work process that generates rapid change in the area of undesired emotional and identity imprints. The process and algorithms of the technique answers the question, “How did the client learn to feel this way, about that thing?” and applies specific change at the right place within the client’s model of the world.

By building resources inside the problem state, IEMT brings the client more into the present and enables the client to stay out of past negative experiences permanently.

You can literally change memories in one session. The memory generally needs to be time and event bound – say a car accident, orr any other type of single event trauma. So if you have a trauma that you need to resolve quickly, then this is the one for you.

BTW, my IEMT profile is below:

http://www.integraleyemovementtherapy.com/profile/martin-summerhayes

As always, I leave you with this quote…..

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” ― Mark Twain

NURTURING TEENAGERS AND THE POWER OF REAL AND FALSE MEMORIES

“Right now I’m having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before.” ― Steven Wright

Working with teenagers is always a challenge, especially if you are trying to help and support them through their own growing pains. I don’t want to use the word, counselling directly in this context, rather, I would use the word “nurturing”. Nurture in the sense, that when a teen comes to me for support, advice, guidance or just to shout / cry / scream at me, I tend to feel that I am nurturing them to grow and develop and come to recognise their strengths and their own capabilities.Anyway, one of the teens in my world sat down with me and we were discussing some of the challenges she faces in her life. This involves engagement and acceptance by her mother, always a difficult subject to discuss without too many of the emotions coming to the fore.Obviously, I could have dived into her memories and perceptions of the issues; getting her to describe the scenarios and situations; the reactions she faced and how she dealt with them. This would then become a point by point discussion.Instead, I did not want to get into what are called the “why’s and wherefores” of the relationship. Rather, I wanted to get her to reflect on what occurred and relative positioning of her and her mother.So, using some props [different coloured blocks that were to hand] I asked her to imagine herself standing in front of her mother having a dialogue on a recent issue. Then I asked her to step outside of herself and imagine looking at herself; having the dialogue and reflecting on the tone of voice she was using; the facial expressions she was using; her body position; the angle of her head; how she was using & not using her hands to amplify the conversational points. In effect a 2nd position. For each element, I wanted her to think about how she was positioning herself in relation to her mother and the reaction that she was eliciting from her mother.Then I got her, to step behind her mother as if she was looking through her mother. In effect, in 3rd position. Now I got her to think about how her mother was acting – the tone of voice she was using; the facial expressions she was using; her body position; the angle of her head; how she was using & not using her hands to amplify the conversational points. For each element, I wanted her to think about how she was positioning herself in relation to her daughter and the reaction that she was eliciting.You could see the reactions crossing her face as she elicited the various states. It was fascinating and very gratifying to see her work through some of the issues.We then moved onto her memories of previous situations and how they had impacted the relationship she had with her mother. And this is where is got weird, but positive weird. As she started to think about some of the early life memories, there were confusing and contradictory movements of her eyes and her posture kept shifting, almost as if there was confusion and potential conflict which she was re-living.I asked her what the issue was and her answer was, “I am not sure the memories are all mine?”I have read and researched memories and the research suggests that there is a good chance that at least a few of your childhood “memories never actually happened!”. You might think you remember your 3rd birthday party, when what you really remember are the pictures, or you might believe you have a very vivid memory from primary school that in reality happened to your brother or your best friend that you shared everything with, including in that case, a memory.So why does this happen? Why do our brains seem to be so susceptible to false childhood memories?Elizabeth Loftus, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, Irvine, has done extensive research on the malleability of memory, particularly in children and false memories from childhood. “We pick up information from all sorts of places and times and use it to ‘create’ our memories,”. Loftus is the author of a well-known study from the mid-1990s in which she successfully “implanted” a false memory in college students about a time they got lost in a shopping mall as a child, even though they never had (Loftus and her colleagues checked with the students’ families). But simply by asking leading questions about the supposed memory, the researchers got several students to tell them that it had really happened. And the false memory doesn’t even have to be very realistic; in a later study, Loftus and her colleagues were able to successfully implant false memories in college students of going to Disneyland as children and meeting Bugs Bunny — which is not even a Disney character.So I asked the girl, to “Reflect, Remember and Recall” as much as possible the 4 or 5 points to the particular memory that was causing issues and to elicit whether if it was, in fact, real. It was not. She then said that it was, in fact, something that had happened to her brother.We then moved onto the idea that memories are not “real”, rather they are reconstructions of past events, recreated every time we try to recall the event. If you were to write the event down in as much detail as possible, then leave the memory alone for six months and try to recall it, it will, in fact, be different. That is why, in some respects, the decline in the use of personal diaries and people spending the time to pause, reflect and write down their recollections of the day and how they felt is such a loss to counselling and change work.We finished the session at that point and she went away with a much better understanding of the current situation she was in and how she could manage the dialogue with her mother in future. As they say, she had all the resources she needed to be able to deal with the situation. She just needed to pause, reflect and recognise them.For an interesting article on implanting false memories, got to:
http://exploringthemind.com/the-mind/are-your-memories-just-fakedAs always, I leave you with a quote.“The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe