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The Healing Library > Articles > Mind Movies and How to Stop Them

Mind Movies and How to Stop Them

Are you absolutely miserable and suffering horribly with random bouts of crying, wanting to curl up in a little ball and never get out of bed, prone to extreme angry outbursts, etc. and all because of the thought or memory that just popped up in your head, unrequested, unwelcome, uncontrolled? And now you can't stop thinking about it? Over and over?

I want to tell you about something I learned to do while I was in those terrible deep dark days after D-day 1, after D-day 3, after D-day 6, after separation, when I desperately wanted to feel better but my situation was imploding all around me.

Change your thoughts.

If what your WS is doing or has done is tormenting you and you can't get it out of your head, here is some practical step-by-step advice for finding peace.

First notice your thoughts.

This is also called mindfulness. You have an inner world that is separate and distinct from what goes on outside your head. Your emotions can be triggered by both your inner world and your outer world. Getting control over what is going on in your head will help you FEEL BETTER emotionally because you will have fewer triggers that make you feel sad, angry, or afraid.

Try to name what TYPE of thing it is that's going on in your head.

A MEMORY of something that REALLY happened, like reading an email or picking up a phone and seeing a text, or seeing a receipt, or a hickey, or whatever. You are recalling something that actually happened and replaying it like pushing rewind on a movie. Mind movies.

A THOUGHT such as wondering if that "meeting" your WS has to go to is really for work or is really a hookup. Your brain is puzzling, having a question or idea in mind. You think it could be A but it also could be B. You're pretty sure it's A. How would you test if it's A? Investigation mode.

A FANTASY where you IMAGINE something that you didn't directly experience. You imagine your WS in a hotel room with another affair partner. You imagine their sex acts without you in them. You start with an idea or thought but take it down a speculative path, playing out possible scenarios.

CATASTROPHIZING which is a kind of imagination but more about you playing out your fears. You imagine you will have to move out and you'll be living in your car. You imagine going to pick up your kids at school but they've been taken and abducted by WS.

You FEEL an emotion, like despair, or helplessness. It takes over your body, pulling tears from your eyes, making you sink into your chair. Anger makes you get up and pace about the house, fists clenched, teeth grinding.

Many of these kinds of mental processes are not really helpful, particularly if you get stuck in a loop RUMINATING and playing over the same memories, fantasies or catastrophes again and again, or you get so stuck in your emotional state that you can't break out of it.

So how do you break out of ruminating and get your brain back in control so you feel better?

Actively choose an alternate thought.
You need to come up with about 3 different alternate thoughts that you practice thinking about. It helps if you can work out these thoughts into a "standard" or "go to" thought by repeating them to yourself when you are not stressed, as an exercise. My IC gave this to me as a homework exercise and I believe it was one of the most important things I ever got out of therapy. I have a VERY active brain and my ruminating was making me miserable.

Here are some of my go to alternate thoughts. I still use them on occasion.

If you scroll up you will realize these are long, complex, visually stimulating, memory intensive STRINGS of thoughts. I can "go to" one of these thoughts and start at the beginning and work my way through and it will be a little different each time. And it takes several minutes to do it. Try it. Go read them again. You will see that these are personal to me, related to my real life, contain no medications, and do not require a co-pay.

Practicing "go-to thoughts" is super effective in killing whatever thought was in my head before. Ruminating about that hotel room? GONE, gone gone. I can't even remember sometimes what I was thinking about before. And each of these thoughts ends with a moment of meditation and finding something to be grateful for.

Try to think of a couple different scenarios that would work for you that are based on your life and your environment. They need to be thoughts that don't take you to triggery places. For example, I don't worry about running into the AP in the grocery when I'm shopping for salad, so that works for me. If your WS is into playing out sexual fetishes with vegetables that might not work for you so much, so work through your thought ideas and see if they have triggers in them. If that thought keeps hitting on a trigger, find a different one.

Practice all three thoughts for three days. Alternate between them. Work on developing the pathway, the story line in your head. Reproduce these thoughts DELIBERATELY.

Changing your thoughts is VERY possible with this method. It is a great way to get yourself calmed down, to break your rumination, to kick out that AP that is living rent free in your brain.

This is an awful process to have to go through after discovering infidelity. Your situation and your mind take you to terrible places and you need to be able to extricate yourself when it is unbearable. Take control of your thoughts and you will be on the way to getting control of how you FEEL. Sometimes we feel so helpless and victimized and like everything is falling apart and we have no control over anything. But we can OWN our own thoughts. Nobody can take away going to your happy place in your head. Happiness is out there for you, you can get back to a place of contentment and peace, no matter WHAT happens.

May you all find a moment of peace and contentment when you need it.

~ heartbroken_kk

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