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When I was doing therapist training in the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, we looked at a number of thought intervention exercises to experiment with when an unhelpful thought is anchoring you in a place of self loathing, or self criticism or stuck-ness. This is one of them.
Come to a place of mindfulness. Sit with your feet on the ground with your back supported. Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Without altering it and without judgement, notice what the quality of your breathing is. Don’t change anything, or think you have to take deep breaths, just bring your attention to it. Notice how your body moves with your breath. Just notice.
If thoughts come into your mind, simply notice them. Do not dwell on them or try to force them to leave. Just notice them, again without judgement. If you find that your mind is clogged with thoughts, imagine welcoming them through one door of your mind and gently moving them through a door on the other side of your mind and bring you attention back to your breath.
When you feel grounded and centred, isolate the thought you want to work on. Once isolated, bring it through the following series of ‘thought gateways’.
1. At the first gate, ask of your thought: Is this true? Is this a fact?
If it is, allow this thought to pass through the gate.
2. At the second gate, ask of your thought: Is this helpful? Is this necessary?
If it is, allow the thought to pass through that gate.
3. At the third gate, ask of the thought: Is this rooted in love and kindness?
If it is, take the thought with you as a useful resource through the gate. If it is not rooted in love and kindness, imagine closing the gate behind on you, as you pass through without the thought.
Take a moment, and notice how it feels to leave the thought behind. If you feel like the thought will be more persistent, have a look at ways you can bring love and kindness into it. Experiment with ways you can reframe it, so you can take it with you, but in a way that benefits you.