The Mental Art of Diffusing Harmful Thoughts

Automatic obsessive thinking

When we ruminate, our brain is signaling our minds to keep thinking about the same thing over and over. This process often time is automatic giving you very little control over deciding how you want to initiate a thought. This automatic process keeps you from being ahead of your mind. Instead of you being the initiator of a thought, your mind initiates what it wants you to focus on. If you do not notice this process when it happens and attend to it, after a certain period of time, the mind strengthens the automatization of these automatic thoughts. Each time the automatic thought that you are not aware of that your mind fed you happens, the thought becomes more automatic and stronger. At that point your mind automatically activates these thoughts that cause you fear and worry which leads to a sensation or state of anxiety.

Automatic obsessive thinking

Conscious obsessive thinking

I want to start by saying that although this next cluster of thoughts are not automatic, conscious obsessive thinking is equally harmful to the mind and to the body. Conscious obsessive thoughts are thoughts that you have more control over the process of initiating. In this cluster of thinking your behaviors and interactions with your environment are repeatedly engaged in making you believe that there is something unsafe, fearful, wrong, different, bad, insecure, and negative happening. As this process of perceiving your environment as unsafe happens your mind develops a state of anxiety. In this cluster of thinking, your mind activates the thoughts based on what you believe about certain items, experiences, people, and places in your environment. 

Diffusing these thoughts

The first step is to consider alternate thought. What else is true about the thought you had that your mind is not telling you. For example, if your fearful/worry/negative thought is “People are looking at me weird” it is also possible and therefore you must tell your mind to also think “It may be that people are looking at me the way they look at hundreds of others”. “I am worried about my kids” it is also possible and therefore you must tell your mind to also think “It may be that I am caring for my children by thinking of them.” “People are disappointed in me”, it is also possible and therefore you must tell your mind to also think “It may be that people are not disappointed in me.” “I should have found a therapist sooner”, it is also possible and therefore you must tell your mind to also think that “Waiting to find a therapist led to me finding the right therapist.”

A thought is just a thought. I have thousands of thoughts each day. Every person in the world has thousands of thoughts each day. It is scientifically proven that most of our thoughts are ineffective in giving us true and objective information about our environment. Most of my thoughts are subjective to my emotional state at this moment or this day. Most of my thoughts are focused on what has gotten automatized by my mind. My automatic thoughts have not given me an opportunity to decide what I really want to believe and feel. I have had these thoughts many times, perhaps hundreds or thousands of times. Each time this thought has been wrong because the outcomes I have associated with the thought have not happened. These thoughts have led me to believe information that is useless or false. These thoughts have kept my mind busy without a purpose. This thought is not meant to have a meaning, it is just another thought of the same group of thoughts. This thought is wrong again. This thought cannot be accurate this time because it has shown me that is wrong all of the other times. This thought does not have the power of making things happen,  I am the one who decides what I want to do with my environment at this moment in time. 

This thought makes me feel…Notice how the thought is making you feel. Find the feeling you are having. Name the feeling. Notice where it is happening in your body For example “this thought is making me feel scared, I feel it in my chest”. Now, accept the identified feeling. “I accept the way I am feeling.” “It makes sense that I am feeling scared because I had this thought”. I can understand that the sensation I am having is normal regarding the thought, but it is not true to my safety and wellbeing”. “I know this feeling was started and fueled by the thought””I choose to tell my mind that I am safe at this moment in time” “I choose to tell my mind that I want to change the way I think to change the way I feel.”

“I know I can come back to this thought because I have documented it. I have documented this thought. I have identified it. I am aware of the thought and the sensation. I am aware of the sensation. Being aware of the thought and the sensation gives me power and control. Now that I have identified the thought and the sensation I am better equipped and in a better position to attend to the thought the way I want to attend to it. I want to attend to this thought by considering the alternate thought”.

Set a time. It is key to set a time to go back to the worry, fearful, sad, negative, and anxious thoughts you have documented. This will teach your mind that you are attending to these thoughts. Neglecting anxious thoughts is not the cure, the cure is to attend to these thoughts and change the perspective, the point of view, or angle your mind has gotten used to using to cause you anxiety. “I have a time and place to worry.” “I will review this thought during my reserved time for worry.”


Commit to doing this for 3 to 6 weeks.

Be purposeful about doing this. Be consistent about documenting the fearful/worry/negative thought. Use your worry time wisely by taking the time to do it. Repeat those statements in each of the steps. Notice your fearful/worry/negative thoughts diffuse. Notice how much better you feel when you attend, consider the alternatives, and take over the outcome.

Dr. Yaro Garcia

Hello, I am Dr. Garcia, please call me Yaro. My degrees are in clinical psychology and I am a licensed mental health counselor. My approach is caring, warm, safe, non-judgmental, and straight forward. It is a difficult decision to seek therapy, I take time to build a trusting therapeutic relationship with you…