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Filtering Thought-Spam

Monday, September 16, 2013
Written by:
Christy Johnson, Ph.D.
Image of spam thoughts being put into a trash can filled with colorful paper

Unhelpful and often untrue thoughts create much of the suffering in our lives, relationships, and the world.  What if your brain came with a thought spam folder?   Imagine ignoring meaningless, counterproductive, and destructive thoughts with just one click!  Suddenly your “Untrue” filter would prevent thought-spam from imbedding itself in your brain sending out continuous distress signals.  You’d just ignore thought-spam as not pertinent, maybe slightly dangerous, and quarantine it appropriately.  Luckily you do have a built-in thought-spam delete button known as “Ignore.”

Thought-Spam 1: “I must hold myself to a higher standard than everyone else.”  Truth: Accepting everyone, including yourself, invites health and happiness for all parties.  The higher standard idea reframes your fear of being abandoned as somehow being special, virtuous, different, and thus isolated.  Yet considering a huge cross-section of humanity think they must adhere to this particular piece of thought-spam, your perceived specialness can’t be “true.”  Ignore.

Thought-Spam 2: Any “I should.”  Truth: Remember every should belongs to whomever created it, not to you.  You inadvertently internalized someone else’s external command.  Ignore.

Thought-Spam 3: Any negative thought.  Truth: Most negative thoughts are false.  Judgments, recurring fearful thoughts, negative self-talk, or buying into other people’s belief systems don’t contain soul level truth.  Ignore.

Thought-Spam 4: Excessive guilt, regret, or fear.  Truth: Guilt and regret keep you in the past.  Fear sends you to an unlikely future.  Ignore.

Thought-Spam 5: Illogical or irrational suggestions.  Truth: You don’t have to eat the whole bag of cookies just because you ate one.  You don’t have to wait to start over.  Downplaying anything putting you or others at risk, say drinking and driving, represents significant thought-spam too.  Ignore, ignore, ignore!

What kind of thought-spam plagues you?  Have you learned to notice and ignore it?

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