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How to stop destructive, repetitive thoughts - any suggestions?

(5 Posts)
Hatchetfacedboot Tue 04-Mar-14 22:39:04

So I misjudged a situation, made a friend really angry. Apologised profusely (it was my fault entirely) and friend says all is ok between us now. I cannot stop replaying the moment when my friend blew up again and again.

I haven't felt like this for years. I used to get panic attacks, had CBT, totally got on top of it but this one incident (which was the culmination of a very stressful time for both of us) has thrown me completely. I really don't want to slip back to where I was, obsessing and panicking and out of control.

Can anyone suggest any techniques to stop these destructive thoughts in their tracks?

woodrunner Wed 05-Mar-14 13:56:32

I would have thought CBT techniques are the best thing for this.

It sounds like you need to regain perspective and also accept your own level of distress.

Acceptance First
E.g. It's normal to feel so sad about this. I really upset someone I love and it was my fault. It always feels horrible to be in the wrong. Anyone would feel deeply upset in this situation.

Normalisation
Everyone makes mistakes at some point. No one gets through life without making one or two big mistakes and this was one of mine. It was normal to make a mistake.

Rationalisation
I apologised. This was the right thing to do. I'm glad I did. She accepted the apology. It was the grown up thing to do. I acted appropriately as soon as I realised my mistake.

Nurture.
How can I take care of myself while I feel so raw? Maybe I could spend time with close friends or family who I haven't upset, to remind myself that most of the time, I get on fine with people I love.
Maybe I could watch a few comedies back to back with the children.

Blessings Counting
(I know people think it's cheesy, but it works)
Make a long list of all the things you have done right recently, and then as far back as you can remember. And make another list of all the things in your life, however tiny, that are good or OK right now.

Moving Forward
If you are really obsessively upset by it, book times to be upset by it and times not to. E.g. On the school run I will pay 100% attention to my DC and enjoy our walk/drive together. At home'on the way to work, I will set the timer on my phone for 10 mins to completely indulge in my self-hate fest about how awful it was to have fallen out with someone. When the timer goes off I'll get up and do something which takes my mind off it.

Pay the Debt
Do something that symbolically helps you feel like you have repaid the 'debt' of having fallen out with someone. Could be doing something for that friend, or for someone else, or in the community. Make sure that it's a finite thing - a single action like babysitting for a night, or helping at a charity jumble sale, or similar, and when it's finished you can say: right, paid off now, so you can move on.

HTH

TheWanderingUterus Wed 05-Mar-14 14:06:42

What woodrunner said.

I find the thoughts fade away if I don't give them any headspace. So I say to myself 'I feel bad about this, but I am not going to think about it until tomorrow' and then throw myself into something mentally time consuming (even if it's just a crossword puzzle). I imagine a box or wall in my head and put the feelings behind it.

After a while of it not being my central focus, whizzing around my brain and making me more and more upset, I find when I mentally unpack it I can look at it more rationally.

Sometimes I write it all down on a piece of paper, fold it up and put it away in an envelope, somewhere out of sight. Often the next day I can just throw the envelope away without opening it.

Sympathy though, it's horrible.

Hatchetfacedboot Wed 05-Mar-14 14:12:03

Wow, thank you both so much [smilw]

Wood runner, I think I have done most of those steps except the last few. My dh has been absolutely amazing talking me through this and the other situation that was making me so stressed but I am going to save this thread and keep a note of those steps. Fantastically clear and simple.

Wanderinguterus - I had forgotten about the putting in a box, I used to be able to do that! I'm going to try again,

Thanks so much for the replies, I really don't want to step off that edge again and your ideas will definitely help. thanks thanks thanks

Weegiemum Wed 05-Mar-14 14:16:04

This is great advice!

Also have you tried mindfulness techniques? Just being in the moment really helps me with racing, intrusive thoughts.

This Australian site was recommended to me by my clinical psychologist and has been very helpful Mindfulness

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