Have you ever had the experience of trying not to think of something? Like when you’re trying to go to sleep and something upsetting keeps coming to mind? You may attempt to squeeze it out of your mind, but it seems to come back with a vengeance.
What you learn about your mind is that when you try to shove something into a dark closet, your mind feels compelled to peek into that closet again and again to see if it’s still there.
Everybody has memories from the past they’d rather not remember.
Everybody has annoying, upsetting, or threatening events going on in their everyday lives.
Everybody is bothered by thoughts they’d rather not have.
Instead of pushing them away, invite them in and deal with them.
Some callers have told me that after a year or two of marriage, they think about an old high school flame, and they wonder if this is an “omen” that they’ve married the wrong person. No, of course not.
“Courting” is fun; marriage has obligations, responsibilities and challenges. Even the things we love can feel overwhelming. Fantasies and thoughts and dreams about someone else are brain “vacations,” taking you to a time when you had no worries. Invite those thoughts in and examine them: “Let’s see…if I married John instead of my husband Steve, hmmm…gee, I’d miss Steve’s smile and hugs, his manly chest, his tenderness with the kids, and eventually John would have probably ticked me off too in some silly ways.”
Once you’ve done that, it is no longer an obsession. The vacation is over, and a greater appreciation of what you do have takes its place.
Don’t fight the thoughts. Invite them in and talk to them. Take control, and they will leave on their own.