Thought Attack!

The next time you find yourself in a low state of mind, my hope is you won't analyze your life and try to find or fix the reason.
08/08/2013 05:41pm ET | Updated October 8, 2013
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Have you ever had a thought attack? You know, a wayward thought pops into your head, you feel kind of uneasy in your gut, then you have another thought, feel even worse and then the process repeats itself again and again.

I know it used to happen to me -- a lot. But thankfully, these days it rarely happens, if ever. We'll get back to why that is in a minute.

First, let's talk about why thought attacks occur. They occur because a person makes the mistake of attributing an uneasy gut feeling to a circumstance in his or her life. Thought attacks become extreme because uneasy gut feelings don't come from a circumstance in one's life. And the more a person looks outside to explain or remedy their feelings on the inside, the more they have to think, so the worse they'll feel.

To illustrate, I once blamed my sometime anxious moods on particular events from my childhood (I'll intentionally spare you, and myself, the details). Yet, what's interesting is that when I did this, other parts of my life became problematic, too. In other words, I'd feel bad and try to fix my feelings by coping with my childhood. And when that didn't work, I'd look to my present circumstances and delve into all that was wrong there. And when that didn't work, I'd look to my future circumstances and frustratingly do the same.

Talk about barking up the wrong tree. Looking for excuses for one's bad feelings might be what psychotherapy is all about, but I can assure you that doing this is what causes thought attacks. Just give it a try and see how many situations you find that aren't quite right in your life at this very moment. What you might overlook, however, is that when you feel good those same situations still exist. Like my childhood -- when my mood is high, my childhood is a-okay. When it's low, my childhood is a problem. Either way, it's the same childhood.

Here's the bottom line on thought attacks. At the root of every jammed-up head is a person who incorrectly attached his or her feelings to something or someone else. The reason I don't have many thought attacks these days is because it no longer makes sense for me to do this.

It works the same for you. The next time you find yourself in a low state of mind, my hope is you won't analyze your life and try to find or fix the reason. Doing so is a never-ending struggle that thwarts your instinctive ability to find clarity. Yes, thought attacks are preventable, but first you must understand the principle behind why they occur -- the natural ebb and flow of your thinking creates your feelings. Your circumstances are powerless.

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