Exercises- Letting Thoughts Go

So let’s start. Don’t try too hard with this, and be sure to give yourself some time to learn it first. Make sure you’re in a comfortable place before starting.

  1. Step one. Identify your negative or intrusive thought. Notice it. Does that thought make you feel anything negative? Locate that feeling. Name that feeling. For example, if you feel sad, identify that feeling and then the thought that might be causing it. Perhaps it is a simple thought like: “I can’t do anything right” or something along those lines.
  2. For step two, we have two options. I’ll take you through the first one, and then give you another option.
    1. For option one, imagine you are a firm and steady rock, grounded in the middle of a flowing stream. 
    2. The water rushes over you, but you do not move. You are centered, strong, unmoving. 
    3. Imagine the negative thought you have identified as a leaf that fell from a tree into the stream. That leaf, that thought, slowly flows downstream, perhaps even flowing right over you. But it does not land on you for long. With the flow of the water, it washes over you, past you. That thought was only a “leaf”.
    4. For option two, continue using your imagination. Imagine that you’re laying down outside, watching the sky. Perhaps you are lying on a blanket that’s been warmed by the sun. Perhaps you’re lying under your favorite tree.
    5. You look up and you see a brilliant blue sky, with just one or two small clouds floating from right….to left. Imagine that these clouds are your thoughts. They are not attached to anything, they cannot control you. They simply come….and….go. These clouds pass by and do not have to disturb you. 



And that’s it for this one. That’s it. Just a few quick steps.

Our feelings become problematic and stressful only when we ruminate on them. You are not your thoughts. It’s important to keep remembering that. You are not your thoughts. When we can learn to simply observe our thoughts as thoughts, and let them go, we increase our chances of feeling calm, centered, and peaceful.

You can use this exercise at any point of the day, with any troubling, or intrusive thought. While it’s best to use this exercise in a quiet place without distraction, when practiced over time, it can work in almost any setting.