Breaking Patterns

Thought Patterns

Thought Patterns

As studies involving the brain continue to push the envelope with technological advances and genetic findings; the amount of material on what we are finding out about the way our brains work is truly — well — ‘mind blowing!’

Whether we are chemically addicted or not, it is believed that we all become addicted to our thinking processes – which pretty much stands to reason since we do it so many gazillion times in our lives. When our system is triggered by an intense emotion, a process is started internally in our systems converting (for lack of a better word) the emotion into a thought and then possibly converting the thought into a behavior or action.

The newer information however is not just based on logic, it is more rooted in a physiological occurrence in which chemicals are released inside our bodies and our brains accompanying the inward response to the stimuli.

This all may sound quite technical so let’s break it back down into more basic understanding. We get used to doing things a certain way over and over again because we tend to think the same way each and every times we feel certain feelings. Here’s an example: My mother was did not take good care of herself and was not a very healthy person, so most often, she would take medication and fall asleep sitting on the recliner because the medication made her drowsy. So when I came home from school, quite often, I would find her fast asleep (non-functioning) and I began to feel alone, abandoned, neglected and other negative emotions based on her being asleep during the day and so unavailable to me and my needs.

Intense Feelings

Intense Feelings

These intense feelings reappear today, many years later whenever my current partner naps during the day or when I don’t feel well and need to sleep during the day. The scenario of daytime sleep causes a lot of anxiety for me to this very day because of the connection I have to it.

But, I am slowly learning how to become more and more accepting of my intense emotions rather than fearing them thanks to my practicing mindfulness. I am learning that the feelings will come and that they will wash over me and I’ll still be okay. I prevent the almost automatic leap my feelings make into a thought process. And this is a good thing because for me, the thought process that they lead to is a very incorrect and unhealthy one.

Acceptance of Feelings

Acceptance of Feelings

By allowing myself to feel the feeling of anxiety and stress that are there, I can put them into proper proportion. “They are just feelings.” They will not last forever and they are no more important (although that is not how it seems to me because of my history) than any other feeling I have throughout the day. I have felt the intensity, I have survived, and NOW I can think more clearly and decide what I want to do about that feeling that I get.

I may choose to say something to my partner about how I feel. I may not. I may choose to talk to someone else about it or to write about it. I may not. I may just choose to know that I have experienced this and learned something new about myself and how to be who I am – and maybe just for now, that is more than enough!

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

3 responses »

  1. Emotions are small, part of the ego, minuscule compared to the true self, the right creative side of the brain. No dialogue, words, judgments, right or wrong even exists. Emotions are a golf ball floating in the right side expansive mind, the Pacific Ocean.

    We all have the same emotions, why do we think, believe emotions separate us. Moment people feel only one or two emotions as they shut life off and isolate.

    Emotions are part of us, not who we are. If you sit quietly and explore your inner world, emotions such as fear will become friends with familiarity and practice.

    Sit with your fear exploding with PTSD and see those thoughts and emotions fade as the mind clears itself of diversions thoughs.

    Rick Hanson says we have one with a million zeroes behind it for opportunity at the cellular level.

    Most of the that opportunity is below the ego, not cognitively connected.

  2. I am oh, so slowly learning to use mindfulness to help free myself from the automatic patterns related to early trauma. The progress is so slow that I tend to get discouraged and distracted and forget to pay attention to it in the press of dealing with what feels like a struggle for survival. So my therapist reminds me to go back to the book that she has me reading and using for practice time and again. This last time I thought about starting to meditate again to see if I could help to calm my brain as it was coming out of crisis state before she brought it up. As I go back to being more mindful about the practice of mindfulness, I seem to finally be starting to integrate and make use of the concepts.

    For instance, it has been a revelation to recognize when I am starting down a well worn and very unpleasant path and know that I can make a choice to not go down that path this time, but to instead sink into the awareness of where and when I am. That path might be the beginnings of a flashback, ruminating about a painful topic, or falling into feeling young and overwhelmed. I don’t always recognize what I am starting to do in time, but even starting to shift the patterns is a hopeful sign for me.

    I do have to say that at the stage that I am at, the intensity of the emotions that has come up through meditation has been all consuming. I am working on faith that as I work with the emotions, they will become easier to tolerate.

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