Anxious thoughts come in a wide variety of forms. Here are just a few examples: I'm freaking out. I'll have a panic attack.
I hope the hotel room isn't on a high floor.
- Did I lock the back door? Better check one more time.
- I can't let down my guard or something terrible will happen.
- Everything's falling apart: the taxes are due, bills are due, the roof leaks, and Jan's sick. A They're all laughing at me because I'm so clueless.
Anxious thoughts generally share two themes: worry about the future rather than a focus on the present moment, and fearful predictions of danger, catastrophe, or embarrassment that vastly exceed the likelihood that those things will actually come to pass. The defusion techniques that involve observing and labeling thoughts can reduce anxiety about the future by helping you detach from your thoughts and allowing you to see how they come and go.
Depressive thoughts tend to focus on failure, hopelessness, and loss. Here are some typical examples:
- What's the use of trying? Nothing works for me:
- It's hopeless
- I've failed again.
- Why did I lose__________________
The bleakly judgmental thoughts of depression are best defused by techniques that remind you that thoughts are transient and often just plain wrong. Remember, thoughts come and go, and they aren't necessarily true; they're just your mind trying to get your attention. If your depression leaves you feeling lethargic, use shorter defusion exercises that can be done quickly, such as "Thank You, Mind," Turning a Hand, or "How Old Is This?"
Angry thoughts are heated, defensive, and relentlessly judgmental. Here are some examples: What a jerk!
- How dare she say that?
- I'll show those bastards!
The best defusion techniques for the violently judgmental thoughts of anger are those that work quickly so that they can have an effect before rage escalates into shouting, breaking things, or hitting. Try white room meditation.
Shameful thoughts turn your judgment back on yourself. They also frequently feature rumination on the past. Here are a few examples:
- I'm no good.
- I'm damaged.
- I'm unforgivable.
- I can never lift my head in the world.
- I don't deserve anything pretty or fun or nice.
The judgmental thoughts of shame or guilt often focus on the past, so use defusion techniques.