Unsticking Ourselves from Sticky Thoughts
Let's talk about those sticky thoughts, shall we?
By sticky, I mean the thoughts that our mind gets stuck on like metal to a magnet. For me, it's usually unresolved stuff that I'm worrying over. It usually happens at night when I'm lying in bed. And never once have I worried myself into a spacious, generous resolution. Usually just much less sleep than I need.
I've tinkered around with different techniques, and there are a few I've found that can take some of the stick out of these thoughts.
First: call them what they are. That's a really sticky thought, I'll say to myself. Which gives me a bit of distance from it. And reminds me that while this is a spotlight-grabbing thought, it's not the only thought I have.
Second: once I've labeled it, I can choose where to place my attention. It's a choice I have to make many, many times. The easiest, though by no means easy, place for me to place my attention is on my body. I'll start naming what's happening: Tightness in my gut, softness in finger tips, slight crick in neck, breathing in, breathing out. It gets me out of my head and into the real flesh and bone of my self.
Third, be gentle with myself. It's a human tendency to glom onto unsettling stuff. And it's a human ability to un-glom from it. But, for me, it only happens with loving practice. Never once have I criticized myself into a better version of myself.
We will have sticky thoughts; it comes with the whole human package. But with consistent and caring intention, we don't have to be had by them. Call them what they are. Choose to place our focus elsewhere. And when we struggle or fumble, or really anytime, be gentle with ourselves.