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Episode4 Segment 3 - What are unhelpful thoughts? How can they be managed?

Fast Fact

You are not
your thoughts


Our thoughts, feelings, and actions can affect each other, and how well we live with and manage chronic pain. There may be times when thoughts become unhelpful and get in the way of things. They may stop us doing the things we want to do. When this happens, it is important and helpful to get some distance from these thoughts so that they are not controlling us.

User Activity

This activity is about recognising unhelpful thoughts about chronic pain.

Instructions

One way to manage unhelpful thoughts is to recognise that they are only thoughts. A way to do this, is to put the phrase "I'm noticing I am having the thought that..." at the start of each sentence. This is a management strategy to see thoughts as part of you, not all of you. Shown below are some examples.

I’m noticing I am having the thought that:

if my pain is intense, then I will not be able to study for my exam tomorrow.

I’m noticing I am having the thought that:

if my pain is high, then I cannot go with my friends to the shops this afternoon.

Instructions

Finish the sentences below by typing in some unhelpful thoughts into each box. Read these out aloud, and recognise that they are only thoughts.

I’m noticing I am having the thought that:

I’m noticing I am having the thought that:

I’m noticing I am having the thought that:

Once you have recognised that the unhelpful thoughts you are having are only thoughts, try managing them by making fun of the thoughts, or think about them differently. So you might want to imagine some of the following:

  • hearing the thought in a silly voice
  • the thought is printed on a balloon which then pops
  • the thought is written on a cloud or a bubble which then floats away
  • the thought is written on a piece of paper or computer screen and it changes colour

The main idea is that by hearing or seeing the thought in this way, the situation may not seem so difficult to deal with.