Handling Noise in My Head
I complain and anger myself a lot. I'll have an internal dialogue that loops over the same points, making me feel worse and worse. I'll sometimes write down why I'm so angry or anxious, and find out my thoughts aren't as important as I wanted to believe.
This is Chatter, where our brain gets stuck in negative thought loops, usually about a past event e.g. something someone told me (rumination) or about the future e.g. what will happen (worry).
I subconsciously like this feeling and sometimes catch myself looking for something to complain or be angry with. I'll look for someone to validate my feelings, having a one sided conversations about my problems and complaints. I won't notice solutions they suggest since I'm too fixated on my problems. Later on, when I reflect on what they said is when I'll see their solution and angle.
What seems to work for me is:
- cycling. When I reach some point of exhaustion, I stop thinking and my mind calms down for the rest of the ride.
- writing. This makes the fuzzy thoughts less so, and I see what the problem is, rather than feel them.
- smiling: Forcing myself to smile makes me look at my thoughts from a different angle, and I've found myself laughing at some of the thoughts I had.
Other ways I've read that might work are:
- distanced self talk, where instead of using I/me while thinking I use my name or other pronouns like you, he, she.
- practice meditation and mindfulness
- do something else that takes my focus from the rambling thoughts like color naming, count, recite, run, tidying up, taking a walk.
- Talking/Writing. Thoughts tend to be abstract and unordered and verbalizing these helps generate meaning from the thoughts.
- Practice changing my perception:
- Reframe thoughts (cognitive defusion), for example, "life is meaningless" becomes "I'm having a thought that life is meaningless"
- Train myself to recognize a negative thought I fall on, and consciously create a new thought that's based on reality to replace it (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy).
- Instead of trying to change my internal state, accept it with kindness. Change internal dialogue to 'Its hard to feel this way but I can get through this' instead of blaming myself for anxiety.