Have you ever found yourself obsessing about something you know is trivial, but find it hard to break out of that thought pattern? Have you just had the same kinds of thoughts keep streaming into your mind, no matter what you do? If this has happened to you, you may be falling victim to what I’ll call the ‘thought gremlins.’ You may wonder if there is anything else you can do about this besides what you’ve already tried.
You Don’t Have to Remain a Victim of the Gremlins
Just because you may have tried a number of things to deal with your negative thoughts doesn’t mean that it’s all hopeless and you can never get rid of them. In fact, becoming hopeless is also another way that the thought gremlins show up. Usually, trying to somehow ‘think your way out’ of negative thoughts can serve to make them further ingrained. It’s like trying to tell yourself not to think of the color blue; which usually leads people back to thinking about the thing they want to avoid.
Thought Gremlins are a Hallmark of Our Time
After decades of being bombarded by all the literature and self-help gurus championing the benefits of positive thinking, alot of people have been left wondering if something is wrong with them for not somehow ‘getting on board’ with all this. The result is that negative thinking is just as rampant as it has always been. That’s because of the very reason I alluded to above, the more we try to consciously get away from negative thinking or the thought gremlins; the more they will tend to creep back in. Just look at how the suicide rate has been climbing in recent years and you’ll realize that the thought gremlins must be having a heyday right now. People wouldn’t be taking their own lives in record numbers if positive thinking ruled the land.
How to Get Rid of the Thought Gremlins
Doing hand to hand combat with these buggers might seem like the best thing to do, but that’s probably what you’ve tried over the course of your life for some time now. There are alot of different ways to deal with negative thoughts. Some of the more ‘tried and true’ routes are the focus of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. These involve identifying emotions or feelings that accompany negative thoughts, finding flaws in the thoughts, and refuting them on that basis. This can be helpful to alot of people. Some thought gremlins don’t respond well to CBT, especially if they’ve been around for years and tend to cut to the core of the person who’s having them. In such cases, other treatment methods such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and Image Transformation Therapy (ImTT) can be used to get at what is causing the thoughts to help get rid of them. In any case, there are definite ways to deal with the thought gremlins to put them to rest and to help you rest easier without having to put forth a lot of mental energy to keep them at bay.
How I Can Help You in Overcoming the Thought Gremlins
I’ve helped well over a hundred clients in my years of work as a social worker to take on and overcome the thought gremlins. Most of the time we can use some simple thought-stopping strategies and work to identify the cognitive errors in the thoughts to help you overcome them. For the more persistent and deeper-rooted buggers we can use EMDR, ImTT, or some mindfulness practices (or a combination of them) to help put them to rest. I have never worked with a client that couldn’t successfully subdue the thought gremlins with a decent amount of effort and help on my end. The main thing is your intention to get rid of them, and being receptive to help in taking them down. It is also important to understand that you have thoughts, but they are not who you are...especially the gremlins! Feel free to give me a call at 512-374-0100 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how this can work in your case.
About the author: Scott Kampschaefer, LCSW is a private practice therapist in Austin, Texas. He has an extensive background in working with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder at a clinic for older adults with these disorders in Austin. He now works with adults and adolescents of all ages in private practice.
Click here to find out more about how Scott can help you with negative thoughts.