Thought Awareness And Reframing Exercise
Thought Awareness and Reframing
Part of emotional healing requires us to revisit past memories, perhaps even feeling some of the negative feelings associated with such.
Today, let me show you a quick technique that has helped me get in the habit of becoming more of an observer of underlying scripts that are running my life show (thoughts and belief patterns). Those oftentimes irrational thoughts that are freaking me out.
This exercise will just take a few minutes. Find a quiet spot and get comfortable. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and relax your mind and body.
Now, assuming you’ve got some codependent relating going on in your life, I want you to contemplate the idea of cutting ties with someone in your life who you experience a lot of anxiety with. Could be your partner, spouse, child, parent, friend, etc.
See yourself sitting down with that person, letting them know that you’re choosing to cut ties due to A, B, and C. (No reciprocating, emotional abuse, no efforts at getting sober or clean, etc.)
Now, pay attention to what your mind is thinking and how your body is feeling. Do you feel some anxiety arise? Do you envision this person getting mad and yelling at you? Is your heart beating faster? Are you freaking out inside? Or are you calm? Relieved?
How is the thought of cutting ties affecting you?
Are you afraid you won’t be able to make it on your own? Do you think life will be meaningless once that person is gone? Do you feel insecure?
However you’re feeling, see if you can think about a time you were feeling this before – maybe in childhood.
Whatever passes through your mind, make an effort to remain with that thought or memory. Explore it, dissect it, bring it out into the open. Also, pay attention to what’s going on in your body. Are you sweating? Heart racing? Stay with this for just a minute or two, making sure you’re breathing slowly and deeply.
Now, we could take this right into an Inner Child Healing, which you can it you choose. For now, pick up a pen and paper, and write down everything that passes through your head when you contemplate the idea of breaking up with a friend or life partner. Or, from the memory or memories that arise.
For example, let’s say being single and alone terrifies you. Once you discover the thoughts and/or memories that seem to fuel these feelings, you can then focus on reframing them. You can do this by finding an alternative, more rational thought to replace the old one.
- “If he leaves me, I’ll never be able to make it on my own” can be replaced with something like,
- “If he leaves me, it may be difficult for me to make it on my own, but I’ll find a way. I’ll work hard at it. I’ll be alright. I choose to trust God and life to have my back.”
- Or, “I will feel like a bad person if I end this toxic relationship. I will break his heart.” can be replaced with,
- “I am a good person, worthy of a healthy relationship, and this relationship is not healthy. This may hurt him, but he is not willing to do anything to heal himself or this relationship, so ending it is a healthy option.”
It’s about balancing your perspective and avoiding catastrophic interpretations like: “It’s horrible…”, “It’s terrible…”, “It’s impossible…”, “I’ll never make it…”, etc.
If the root of your codependent tendencies is a painful memory from your childhood, (Dad left, Mom checked out, Uncle hit me, etc.) you can still use reframing as a way of reducing the tension associated with that memory. Remember your Inner Child. Take time to be with your Inner Child around these thoughts and feelings. As an Adult, go to him/her and comfort them.
Remember to use your current mind, the mind of an adult who can see things from different perspectives. (Your Adult Self) Regardless of the event or events that may have fueled codependent tendencies, always remember that you’re a grown-up who can deal with childhood-related issues. You are smarter, stronger and wiser than you were during your first years.
Take your paper and keep it handy. You may have to refer to it down the road, to remind yourself of your truth and reality.
You’ll see that once you become more of an observer, and bring insecure or irrational thoughts out into the open, you’ll be more able to process and work through them from the viewpoint of Emotionally Healed Adult.
You can use this technique whenever you’re feeling some insecurity or fear rise within you. Or, you feel you have to cut ties with someone because they continue to give you crumbs or just aren’t emotionally healthy enough to provide a safe space for a relationship or friendship.
“God, help me heal and let go of any past experiences that cause me to think or act in ways that hurt me and others. Help me to realize truly that the past is over and the present is what matters. I declare that I am worthy to have a loving and healthy relationship with my partner and others. I commit to doing “the work” necessary to continue to expose any darkness or wounds, heal at a deeper level, and love myself and others at a deeper level.”
Dominica Applegate is an author, writer, and transpersonal spiritual teacher. Her teachings have helped millions of people experience emotional healing, relationship repair, and spiritual awakening. Earning her BA in Psychology and MA in Counseling, she worked 12 years in the mental health field before diving full-time into writing.
She runs Rediscovering Sacredness, an online portal that offers inspiration, essays, resources, and tools to help heal inner pain and experience more peace and joy.
Her books include Recycle Your Pain: It Has a Purpose, Into The Wild Shadow Work Journal, and a collection of poetry entitled, The Pain, It Shapes Her World.