Have you ever been driving down the road and thought ‘what if I just turned the wheel and drove into oncoming traffic?’ or stood waiting for a train and thought ‘what if I just fell on the track as the train was coming?’ or been on a flight and thought ‘what if the plane crashes’ or something else just as bizarre…well if you have, you are not alone!
Most, if not all of us, have these random thoughts pop into our head.
Most of the time you will just dismiss them without even thinking about it – that’s good.
Sometimes we worry or obsess about them – that’s less good and is often where phobia’s and anxiety spring from.
Occasionally we may alter our behaviour because of them – that’s really not good, as this forms neurosis, O.C.D. and other mental health issues.
In Psychology these thoughts are often referred to as NATs or Negative Automatic Thoughts. There are many ways of dealing with these. The first is to recognise it for what it is, a random thought, not an absolute truth. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) teaches ways to spot these thoughts and challenge their validity e.g. how likely is it that the plane will crash, given that there are thousands of flights in the air at any given moment, yet we very rarely hear of a plane crash.
There are then various ways of dealing with it. You can dismiss it as unrealistic, you can ignore it, you can try and stop yourself thinking about it (often with the use of a rubber band you keep round your wrist and ‘ping’ each time you recognise a NAT) or you can accept it.
Personally one of my favourite ways to deal with these NATs is to make fun of them. You can’t stop them popping in your head from time to time, and trying to is just as likely to make you think of them more (try not to think about elephants for the next 5 seconds – you weren’t thinking of them before, but now you can’t stop). J K Rowling uses a similar method in Harry Potter with the Riddikulus spell – the kids think of the thing they are most scared of and then make it ridiculous by casting the spell e.g. a spider with roller-skates slipping and sliding all over the place. It’s difficult to be scared of something you’re laughing at.
So, next time one of these thoughts pops into your head, see it for what is – just a random thought – and laugh at what a bizarre, wonderful brain you have that will come up with such peculiar things and remember you can’t believe everything you think 🙂
If you need a little help dealing with your NATs, you should speak to a professional who can help. CBT, NLP and Hypnotherapy are great tools to help you.
Check out www.hypnotherapycoventry.org for more information