• Monique Peats

Mental Diffusion

Often, when we have a thought, feeling or sensation, we may find ourselves strongly identifying with it. Sometimes, when we identify with something, it can feel like it overtakes us and becomes our identity.

Someone might say, “I’m depressed” vs “I’m feeling depressed”. Words are powerful.

What you say to yourself matters

and even though it might seem like there’s barely any difference between “I’m” versus “I’m feeling”, the use of “I’m” results in a stronger sense of personal identity than the statement “I am feeling.”

The latter statement helps us identify or label a short-lived, momentary emotional state. However, saying “I’m” is often experienced as a global, overwhelming personal statement about yourself. "This is all I am…” rather than simply observing that it is a feeling, emotion or sensation.

This tendency towards making the emotion our identity sets us up to wrestle with the thought or feeling, which we’re trying to push away because we tell ourselves, “No I’m not depressed. I’m not anxious or sad.” The result is that we get caught up in an exhausting mental noise cycle that dances between ‘identifying the emotion’ to ‘the emotion is my identity’ back to ‘identifying the emotion’ to ‘the emotion is me’. This results in us fighting it out with ourselves as we try to de-identify with the thought or feeling. This can be quite exhausting. However, there is a better way.

This technique is known as a “Cognitive Defusion”, and it can be quite helpful in reducing the sense of emotional charge or overwhelm that we experience when stressed.

Practise technique

This sheet is not saved or stored, this is your safe place to process your thoughts.

I encourage you to give it a try over the next few weeks. Just observe and see what you notice.