Junk Thoughts

This week's trek is inspired by clinical psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen's work on anxiety and the role thought-action fusion plays in our mental health.

Have you ever had a strange thought that made you think "I must be taking crazy pills"? 

When I lived in SF I would sometimes drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and think "If I turn my steering wheel a tad to the right I'd roll off this bridge and into the ocean." Next, I'd think, "Wait, does this mean I want to drive off this bridge?" And then I'd hold my breath in an anxious fury for the entire mile across. 

Hendriksen would argue that this is an example of
thought-action fusion, where we "assume that thinking about something is equivalent to doing it." Just because the thought about the bridge popped into my head didn't mean I had to give it power. Instead, she would argue that thoughts like this - the ones that show up like a spammy infomercial in the middle of your fav show - are junk thoughts. They'll appear every now and then but you don't need them and you reserve the right to change the channel at any time. 

Introducing Your Junk Thoughts Exercise

What It Is
A 5-minute way to clear your mind of junk thoughts so you can get on with your day and make room for what's important. 

Why We Love It 
We all have outlier thoughts that creep up on us -- ones that range from blurting out "this is stupid" in the middle of a work meeting to wondering what might happen if you drank from a fish tank. (For the record, I have not tried fish tank water.) Sometimes those thoughts clutter our brains just like the Gmail promotions tab bloats the inbox. This exercise gives you a way to identify your thought spam so you can trash it and get on with your day. 

How It Works
1. Next time you find yourself having a strange thought that's not helpful, take 2-3 minutes to clear your mind. Start by saying to yourself, "This is a random thing to think. It's likely that I don't need to act on it."

2. Then, remind yourself that this particular thing you're thinking classifies as a junk thought. You don't need it and you definitely don't need to file it away in your memory for safe keeping. It needs as much consideration as the items in your email spam folder.

3. Finally, take 3-5 deep breaths and focus on the sounds of your inhalation and exhalation. As you breathe in and out, give yourself permission to delete your junk thoughts from the spam folder of your brain. Remind yourself of the following:
"This is just a thought. It comes and goes with ease and only holds meaning if I decide to give it power. This one is random or not helpful to me right now. Time to clear it away and make room for the next."

Source: Hendriksen.

Want to dig deeper into this topic?
Shout. It. Out. To Dr. Shala Fardin for her pro tips on this trek.
Shout. It. Back. To treks@lifetrekkers.me and tell us which  treks you've liked, what we can improve on, and what topics you'd like us to cover next. We're taking requests! 
Here's what your fellow trekkers have to say about past treks:

"The What's Your Tutu? exercise couldn't have come at a better time. I've always had a hard time showing emotion in romantic relationships, so it's helpful for me to to check in with these questions after a date." 
Beebe Xia, Copywriter and Single Lady
Tweet Tweet
Email Us
Learn More
Copyright © 2018 LifeTrekkers, All rights reserved.

Want more information? Drop us a line at info@lifetrekkers.me.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can unsubscribe from this list.
Shankar Desai