Notice how much of your life is affected by negative spinning thoughts in response to the stresses of daily life. If there is a genuine crisis, these spinning thoughts can become intense. Chronic pain is a major stress. Over time these negative circuits strengthen. Talking about your problems just reinforces and adds complexity to these irrational thinking patterns.
Trying to ignore these thoughts by “positive thinking” or “mind over matter” is a form of suppressing negative thinking. Suppressing thoughts or emotions really fires up your nervous system. A re-programming process is your only alternative.
The strategies of suffering, suppressing, and masking are not effective in solving obsessive thinking. Our brains are programmable and you can take charge of your own programming. There are three aspects of reprogramming:
- Awareness of the pattern of thinking
- Detatchment (de-energizing)
- Creation of a functional alternative circuit
The basic principle of reprogramming is to use the same methods that caused the circuits to initially form. When a thought is associated with any physical sensation, a neurological connection is made. For example, if you stepped out in front of a car and were almost hit, it was the thought that you might be struck that caused your heart to race. There is now an intense connection between that thought and a physicial sensation that will not be forgotten. The most well known example of association is the classic experiment on Pavlov’s dogs.
There are many ways to develop new and more functional neurological pathways. Thoughts can be associated with:
Writing down your thoughts creates a physical distance between you and the thoughts and also connects the space with vision and feel. It is the foundation of the reprogramming process. Remember you cannot get rid of these thoughts. You are only separating from them. Creating an alternative pathway is accomplished by placing your attention elsewhere. Active meditation is an exercise where you focus on other sensations.
The results of reprogramming can be amazing. Holt’s Winning Run is a particularly spectacular one.