Raise your hand if you sometimes have unwelcome, unwanted thoughts. Know this: Every one of us has uncalled for thoughts at times. Why are they so troubling? Well, because they can make us feel ashamed, disturbed, or flat out crazy.

Fill in the blanks: “I’m worried that_____.” “I just know that_____.” So can’t we just ignore those inner thoughts or images? Easier said than done, sweet friends. But all things are easier done, once said. Sometimes we end up with toxic beliefs, and for some reason we become fixated on them. We simply can’t let go. But the more we focus and fasten onto them, the more energy we give them; so just like an unwanted guest, they keep coming back. Then, again, my brain is like the Bermuda triangle. Information goes in, and then it’s never found again. The truth is that worried thoughts are notoriously inaccurate.

Trying to suppress them? Don’t bother, my friends. Try this: Whatever you do, do not imagine a fuzzy, white polar bear in your mind. How many are picturing one right now? That is how our mind works. The harder we try not to think about something, the more likely it will appear in our mind. Intrusive thoughts will do the exact same thing. And no, you are not a bad person because of them. Then again, the only reason some people get “lost in thought” is because it’s unfamiliar territory. Lol.

Of course, this makes us anxious, or depressed, or both. But expecting to feel better without working on that negative committee in our heads is kind of like waiting for a ship at the airport.

So what exactly do you do to cope with those unwelcome guests? Do you even know? Tip Number One: Create distance between what you are thinking and feeling, and the whole of you. What does that mean? First things first: Please just accept the thought for what it is. No, you do not have to take it personally or to act on it in any way. Anxiety will surely get activated when certain ideations show up; but remember this: It is not the thought, but what we do with the thought that causes us distress.

If you respond by ruminating and wondering why you keep thinking that to begin with, trust me: It will stay for tea. If you simply observe it as neutrally as you can, it will fly away like a butterfly. If you falsely believe that you are not a good person, or not good enough, your neurotic fixations will constantly reflect this. So what needs adjusting, sweet friends, is your core belief about yourself or the world around you. You say you’re trying to be a more “positive” person, so today you’re positive that everyone’s demented? Uh, oh.

All sorts of things wander through our minds during the course of the day. Ever wonder what you’re having for dinner during that important business meeting? Then again, if you wait long enough to make dinner, everyone will just eat cereal. It’s science. And speaking of work, the best thing about being self-employed is that when you talk to yourself, you can call it a staff meeting. Heh.

Notice all the harsh things that you say to yourself about yourself or others. Try closing your eyes and taking a deep breath. Say to yourself, for example: “I’m having the thought that no one will talk to me at the party.” “I’m thinking that I will never find a better job.” Now realize that you are not the thought and it is not you. Try to replace it with a thought or image that makes you nice and calm. Lying on the beach? “If you need me, call me on my shell.” Heh. Snuggling in a warm blanket. Whatever will do it for you. Tell everyone that you are multi-slacking today.

Showing compassion toward the alienated parts of ourselves is the ideal way to alleviate the anxiety caused by those unwelcome trains of thought. Whatever you do, please don’t label yourself neurotic, obsessive, or abnormal, even as a joke. Closing yourself off into that little box leaves no real opening for the whole of your essence and soul. You are not your dark side.

When life throws you a curve ball, instead of screaming, “Why me?”… say, “Try me.” You might as well, because the sad truth is that a negative mind will never give you a positive life. And while you’re at it, try a mini-trip. A change in latitude may just change your attitude. As always, feel free to reach out. I am right here.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.