56. Letting Go of Thought Errors

Do you ever find yourself fixating on certain thoughts that you can’t seem to let go of?  Maybe even thoughts you wish you didn’t have to think?  Well, today on the podcast we are talking all about those thought errors or thought loops.

You will learn:

•What a thought error is

•The difference between a regular thought and a thought error

•Why your brain has a hard time moving on from thoughts about the past

•The two skills you can use to dissolve thought errors for good

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0:00 Hey, what’s up everyone, it’s Jennie Dildine, the LDS mission coach and you are listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 56. Letting go of thought errors. I’m Jennie, the LDS mission coach, and whether you’re preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential and never question your purpose. Again. It’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission. Embrace your life, and embrace what’s next. Hey, what is up everyone? Welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited to be hanging out with you. It’s one of my favorite things that I get to do each week is to come and give you some help and give you some insight. Super fun that a lot of missionaries are reaching out and saying, hey, I want to listen to your podcast on Google Drive. Which I’m thrilled. I used to host my podcast on Facebook as well as all the other places you can get podcasts. But I used to host it on Facebook. And then Facebook decided, I guess we’re not going to do that anymore. We’re not going to host podcasts anymore. So what I decided is, you know where the missionaries are is Google Drive. So if you just email me, Jennie at Jennie dildine.com, I want to send you a link to mp3 Ease of all of my podcasts. What is this like episode 56. That’s pretty awesome. Lots of good tools and strategies on there for all of you. We are midway through July. I can’t believe it. Where’s the summer going? We had an awesome little anniversary getaway, my husband and I. So that was fun. For 25 years we have been married now. And my second son is just a few weeks away from getting married as well starting their lives together him and his fiancee, my third oldest son found out recently that he is the drum major for the marching band at our high school, which is a huge accomplishment. I’m super proud of him. He has been trying to do that since he was a freshman. But if you have anyone involved in marching band, or in football, or any of those fall sports, like cross country, you know that starting in August is when all of those practices start again. And so the summer really is winding down. I can’t believe it, but we are enjoying every single minute of it. It’s so much fun. I wanted to remind you about my free training that I recently put together, it’s called one tool. It is the one tool that I teach all of my preparing missionary clients. It’s a short 10 minute video that has the ability to completely transform your mission experience. What this one tool will do is it will help you be the missionary that hits the ground running, it will help you be the missionary that gets to show up the way that they want to show up instead of being at the mercy of the mission experience. So if you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to go to Jennie dildine.com. Forward slash one tool and grab that video today. It’s very short. And what it means for you is you will be able to get some mental tools before you head out on the mission in just a very short time totally free so go grab that. Today what I want to talk about is what I call a thought error. Let me explain this to you because I don’t want a thought error to be confused with just a regular thought. Again, we have a lower brain that lower brain 50% of the time is going to offer us thoughts that make us feel feelings that don’t feel as good and half the time is going to offer us thoughts that make us feel emotions that we like to feel the difference between a normal thought and a thought error is as follows. Okay, so when you think of thought, a little synapse is created in your brain, so picture, a little line is created between point A and point B.

4:58 Okay, every time we You think that thought, we reinforced that synapse, and it gets a little bit thicker and it gets a little bit stronger, which is totally fine. That thought, then if we think it connects in our brain, it sends vibrations, hormones, chemicals through our body, and then we feel a feeling. But what I want to talk to you about today is called a thought error. And the way I pictured this is that the thought doesn’t just go from point A to point B, it actually this is the way I picture it circles back on itself to point A, over and over and over. So sometimes this will be called like a thought loop. Also, because it’s not going point A to point B, it’s going in a circle or in a loop. Now I’m going to give you tons of examples of different thought errors, and how this might sound in your life. I want you to see if any of these kinds of stories or ideas or examples you can relate to. But here’s what sort of happens with a thought loop or a thought error is it’s one of those thoughts that we just think I don’t want to think that. And maybe even we sort of believe like we shouldn’t be thinking that. It can be something that our brain just wants to fixate on. We sort of then when it comes up, we try to kind of argue with it, okay. But in arguing of it, what happens is the thought just becomes more incessant, and stronger, and our brain will just keep going back to it. So I know one of my clients is in a thought loop, or a thought error, because they’re sort of like, I just can’t quit thinking about this, it keeps coming up. I wish I wasn’t thinking about it. I wish I could think about it a different way. And it just keeps like replaying over and over and over. That’s what I know that they’re in a thought loop or a thought error. Okay? What we need to know is when we get in resistance to a thought. The same thing happens as when we are in a resistance to a feeling. And what I teach is when we resist a feeling, it actually gets stronger. When we resist a thought, which remember your brain thinks is really useful for you to think about and to pay attention to. When we resist that thought when we don’t want to think it, it also becomes stronger and more pronounced. So let me give you an example. I was working with a preparing missionary who had told me that he was working in the grocery store quite a while ago, that was his job. And he worked in the deli. And he was just starting at shift. And he was very kind of distracted. And he was on his way to get to the deli like he was supposed to do on time. And a customer came up to him and said, Hey, is this the right price of this meat?

8:28 And he said yes, I think that is the right price. And it was like discounted or something like that or a percentage off. And he said yep, that’s the right price, you can plan on paying that price. Well, my client later found out that it wasn’t the right price. And ever since then, his brain has sort of been fixating on it. He’s sort of believed like I did it wrong. I shouldn’t have done that way. His brain was fixating on the guy’s experience the customer’s experience, like what was the customer going to think about him? Like, should we have done it differently? And his brain just wanted to rehash and hash that situation, or that circumstance over and over and over again. Now, there’s a couple of problems with this right? Number one, what happened is in the past, so what our brain likes to do is it likes to loop on it as if it could try to find a solution for something that happened in the past. Like if we would have done this, the outcome would have been different is what our brain tries to kind of explore. But there’s no answer to that question. How do we know if he would have handled it differently? If the customer would have had a different experience? Because there’s no answer to the question that our brain is trying to solve for. His brain got into this thought error. or thought loop. So I have two strategies, what I’m going to call number one, the hamster wheel. And number two, I’m going to call it worst case scenario. So what I encourage my clients to do, and what I encouraged this client to do was use a combination of two methods, okay, again, the hamster wheel method and the worst case scenario. In this case, the hamster wheel method is where we just noticed that our brain is wanting to fixate on the experience fixate on the problem, and just hash it over and over again, what I actually think is, it’s like, I picture my brain as a hamster wheel, wanting to spin and spin on that. But we don’t ever actually, like, internalize that experience, or let it cause any emotion in us. We just decide, there goes my brain fixating and spinning on what happened at the grocery store. And we’re like, okay, brain, you spin as long as you want to, and I’m gonna get on with my day. Okay, that’s the first tactic. It’s the hamster wheel tactic, where we just go, Okay, you spin like a hamster wheel brain, you fixate as long as you need to, I’m just gonna get on with my day. And it’s sort of like, we let that hamster wheel just spin in the background of what we’re trying to think, feel and accomplish in our lives. Okay. So that’s the first tactic. The second strategy is going to worst case scenario. And what this sounded like with this client was, what if it’s true, that the customer in the grocery store, thought you were the worst? What if it’s true, that you did it wrong? What if it’s true that he was judging you? The whole time? What if it’s true even that he was like furious and decided not to buy the meat, what I want you to do is I want you to go to what your brain tells you is the worst scenario. And I want you to play it out, I really want you to go there in your mind. And then I want you to feel those feelings associated with the thoughts and that experience, the way that it might have happened. Worst case scenario. Remember, our brain is always trying to avoid pain, and especially future pain. So when we have resistance to this thought, and we’re resistant to feeling the feeling, our brains not going to let go, it’s gonna want to hang on to it even tighter. It’s the same idea that if I said, Hey, don’t think of a pink elephant. What is your brain gonna do? It’s gonna probably think of a pink elephant.

13:17 So when this client was like, I don’t want to think about that anymore. I probably did it the right way. And we get in an argument with our brain. And we’re resistant to it. And we’re like, we don’t want to feel bad, or we shouldn’t feel bad. All of that just perpetuates the hamster wheel perpetuates the thought error. And so this is what I encouraged him to do. When that thought comes up, and your brain starts fixating it on it, just go to the hamster wheel strategy, and then sometimes go to worst case scenario, what does your brain tell you? What’s the worst possible outcome? Go there, show your brain what it would look like, and then feel those feelings. Okay. I want to give you a few more examples. So you can see how this works. I was working with another client who is recently married. And when we were on our session the other day, she was like, I just keep thinking about the wedding. I just keep thinking that I did it wrong. I kept thinking, I keep thinking that, that it wasn’t perfect. And my brain keeps going back and fixating on all of the things that went wrong. And on the fact that it isn’t perfect. And again, in my head, I’m like, oh, yeah, this is a thought error. It’s in the past. There’s nothing we can do about it now in the brains trying to solve for a problem that we don’t know the answer to. So I encourage her, Okay, here’s what you need to do. Every time your brain start wants to bring up the past bring up your wedding. I want you to go live Like, oh, there’s my brain spinning like a hamster wheel wanting to fixate on the wedding. And then mix in here in there worst case scenario, I said, What’s the worst case scenario? And she said, the worst case scenario is that it wasn’t perfect. And then I did it wrong. And I said, Okay, so what? So what if we did it wrong? Maybe your wedding wasn’t perfect. What then? And so she felt all of that disappointment, she felt all of that frustration, she felt all of that regret. And she showed her brain, what worst case scenario looked like, and what it would have felt like, and I don’t see her for a couple more weeks. But what this process will do is it’ll allow her brain to feel quote, unquote, heard, it will allow her brain to let it go, it will break that hamster wheel pretty soon that hamster wheel will just dissolve. And in our brains, we’ll be able to move on. Okay, another example for you is of a returned missionary who came home earlier than they expected. And he sort of had this thought loop or thought error, where he would go back to the mission, replace stuff with his companion, replay things that were going on. And he just had this thought like, if I had only been better, if only I had done it differently, if only I had showed up for myself in this way. And again, it’s just like this thought error or thought loop where we can’t know the answer. Like if we had shown up differently, would it be different? Maybe? If it if we’d showed up the same? Would it have been the same? We just don’t know. So, but then what happened is every time he thought that he felt frustrated, he felt guilty, he felt ashamed. And so he avoided thinking about it. Now remember, resistance to that thought loop is gonna make it stronger. Your brain thinks that whatever it’s offering you is very important for your survival. Okay, which sounds crazy, but it’s true. It’s what your brain thinks you need to stay alive, you need to know this. So, again, I told them the two tactics, the hamster wheel tactic, every time your brains like, Oh, what about the mission, I should have done this, I could have done better. If only this, were just like, oh, there goes my brain fixating on all the things from the mission, I’m going to let the hamster wheel spin, and I’m going to get on with my day. Then go to worst case scenario every once in a while. Show your brain, the truth of what you really are afraid of. And for him, it was like, I’m afraid that I could have stayed on my mission, if I would have done it different. Okay. Let’s show that to our brain. What if that’s true, then what we’re home now.

18:20 Then we would just have to feel more emotion, we’d have to feel more disappointment. But we’re already feeling it now. So let’s just feel it. Show the brain, what’s the worst case scenario, and then your brain will be able to let it go. I was talking to another client who said that she has a boyfriend on a mission. And this other old boyfriend from high school keeps kind of popping into her mind because he just got back from his mission. And she’s like, I’m completely, like, diligent and faithful to my boyfriend that’s on a mission, but I just don’t want this other old boyfriend to be in my head anymore. And I said, notice how the resistance of that thought. The not wanting that thought only makes it more incessant, more apparent, and makes that thought loop stronger in your brain. So again, I told her, let’s try these two tactics when it comes up again, when you’re like, Oh, that guy’s home. I want you to be like, there goes my brain thinking about that guy. It’s okay, bring you spin as long as you need to, and we don’t let it land. We don’t let it cause any emotion. We just let it spin and we get on with our day. Or I said, I think you really should go there. I think you should just show your brain what it would have been like with him. Like, show your brain it’s super curious. It thinks it’s important for you to know what it would have been like with him. So there’s nothing wrong with thinking about it. Feel those feelings, feel that frustration, feel that disappointment, whatever you need to do go to worst case scenario, show your brain, and then your brain will be able to let it go. This actually happened with a friend several years ago, it was a similar situation. I’m like, try these two tactics. This is the way I like to think about it. Don’t resist the thought, let it hamster wheel or go to worst case scenario, show your brain what was maybe possible. And then she came back to me like two or three months later, and she’s like, I don’t think about him anymore. I just don’t think about him. Again, your brain will let it go. Once we show our brains, once we stopped being raised in resistance to it to that thought loop, it will slowly dissolve. Because our brain feels like Oh, okay. They got the message. They got what I was trying to show that. I have one more extreme example that I want to share with you. And I think this is just a good illustration. I was coaching in another program, where a woman said to me that she had been on a houseboat with her young children. And her young son, I’m not going to remember the exact age of the Son, but he was only like four years old or something like that. had come to her with a life jacket, and said, Hey, Mom, I’m done swimming for today. And so she took his life jacket off. Now, she found out later that the son had jumped into the water without his life jacket on and had done exactly what he knew how to do, which was doggy paddle, swim all the way back to the side, and he was fine. But as soon as her brain realized what had happened, it got into a thought loop. It started thinking, what if I would have this? What would have happened if that? If only I this? What was I thinking? How could I have prevented? What if this and was in this thought loop that couldn’t let it go. In fact, she was to the point where she was waking up in the middle of the night having nightmares about her little son floating facedown in the water. So what I taught her again, were these two strategies, hamster wheel, and worst case scenario. I said your brain actually thinks it’s really important that you understand the magnitude of what happened. It really is trying to protect you from pain and protect your son from pain. So when these thoughts come up, instead of like, I can’t think about that it’s too painful to think about, or I’m too afraid to face that. Just let it spin in your head, like a hamster wheel.

23:09 Oh, there goes my brain trying to solve that problem. Everything’s okay. Now, there it goes, fixating on the past. There it goes. Thinking about that day, you can let that hamster wheel spin and keep going on with your day. Don’t even let any of those feelings land. Just observe your brain. And then number two, I told her, I said I think you gotta go to worst case scenario. Go all the way there, which for her was a terrible worst case scenario that her son could have died. I said you need to feel those feelings as if it had happened. Just go all the way there, feel the feelings show your brain what that would have been like. And then after she did these two tactics after a while, her brain was able to just let it go. So if you find yourself in these thought loops, they’re not point A to point B, they start to feel like a spinning thought or a hamster wheel thought that we just fixate on. I want you to try these two things. The hamster wheel just let it spin and get on with your day. And number two, show your brain what we think would be worst case scenario and feel all of those feelings. Make sense? Everybody? All right. Let go of thought errors. They’re not getting us anywhere. They’re just keeping us stuck. So let them go use those two tactics and I hope they help appeal. Everyone have the most amazing week. Take care. Thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today. Listen, if you are learning a lot from this podcast and you like what you’re hearing, you will absolutely love hopping on a free strategy call with me. That’s where you and I meet up one on one and talk specifically about what is going on for you. I love teaching young adults the mental and emotional tools that they need to overcome worry and anxiety, serve the successful missions they’ve always dreamed of and navigate there post mission experience with confidence. So go to Jennie dildine.com, and click on the work with me link. I would love to meet you. And I would love to get you some helpful tools and strategies to help you fully embrace whatever is next for you. And in the meantime, no matter which part of the mission experience you are involved in. Just know that Jennie, the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day.

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Hey! I'm Jennie - The LDS Mission Coach.

Preparing for, serving and coming home from an LDS Mission can present countless changes and transitions. I’ve seen these changes put missionaries at the mercy of their emotions and questioning their abilities. With the tools I teach, young adults empower themselves to navigate every moment of the mission experience with epic, unwavering confidence.

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