On this page, I provide two different (although similar) thought modifiers to help you in your stress management – two simple techniques that could help you reduce the negative impact of stress in your life. (These techniques can also be used to beat cravings, such as food or tobacco cravings.)
If you’ve read the opening page in this ‘stress’ section, you will know that stress is an individual response to a real or perceived threat. The thought leads to feelings, which can lead to physical or psychological harm.
This is not a new psychological concept – it’s fairly well understood: thoughts create feelings, which create actions:
Thoughts = feelings = actions
Thought modifiers are techniques that manage the first step in that process, thereby altering the subsequent steps. In stress management, using these techniques can reduce the negative impact of stress by disrupting the ‘thoughts – feelings – actions’ process at the beginning.
As with all the techniques on this site, read through instructions fully before trying to use these two simple stress relief techniques.
Thought modifier 1
Before you start to learn this technique you need to decide on what I’m going to call your ‘release thought’. What’s a ‘release thought’? Your ‘release thought’ is a thought (a place, or a person, or a time, or an event) that always brings you pleasure, a thought that has no negative attachments, a thought that brings you peace of mind, or a thought that brings you calmness. This thought must have no possible negative connotations – nothing attached to it that might make it sad or negative in any way – it must be a thought that creates inner peace for you on every occasion you think it. So take a few moments now to think of your ‘release thought’ – write it down if you wish, or if it will help you by reinforcing all the positive and peaceful emotions it creates within you.
This simple thought modifier (the simpler of the two) has just three steps:
- Whenever you experience a negative thought (about a person, or place, or event), then see in your mind’s eye a big bright red light (like a traffic light); shout in a large internal voice: “STOP”;
then bring into your awareness your release thought and hold it there until the effect of the original negative thought has passed.
So, by using this thought modifier, you can quite quickly and simply replace a thought that is causing you stress with a thought that gives you peace, so it is a very simple way of adding to your stress management programme.
- Once you have learned this technique, I recommend that you continue to reinforce it in your self-hypnosis practice. This is especially useful if there is one specific thought that regularly arises for you, and which routinely causes you stress. By addressing the issue, and using this thought modifier in self-hypnosis, you are reinforcing the modification in your unconscious mind – a much more powerful tool than your conscious mind!
Thought modifier 2
This thought modifier is slightly more complicated than the first – so please read through the instructions fully a few times before attempting it. You will need your ‘release thought’ again!
This second thought modifier can be used for visual thoughts that you find disturbing, or which cause a stress response to occur within you. So, if you visualise a person who is causing you aggravation, and the thought of whom generates stress in you, then it will be useful for you to learn this technique. Similarly, if you are visualising an event (in the past or future) or a situation, then this technique could help you. As you can see, this technique is slightly more visual in its nature and is particularly useful against stressful visual thoughts.
This thought modifier has eight steps.
Whenever you have your negative or stressful thought, do the following things to the image you see in your mind’s eye:
- Make the image black and white; (Most people ‘see’ in colour, so making the image black and white remove some of the emotional impacts.)
- Make the image smaller and smaller until it occupies just a small part of your ‘vision’;
- Move the image over to one side (in my opinion, it doesn’t matter which side – allow it to happen, allow your unconscious mind to decide, and the image will seem to naturally move to one side);
- Allow the image to move away from you until it disappears over the horizon.
- Then, as the negative image disappears away from you:
- Bring your release thought towards you from the other side of the horizon (so, if your negative image has vanished over the right-hand horizon, bring your release thought towards you from the left side);
- Make your release though large in your ‘vision’;
- Ensure your release thought is in colour;
- Hold your release thought until the effects of the negative thought have disappeared or reduced sufficiently.
There are a couple of enhancements that can be made to this process – particularly to the processing of the negative image. If the stressful image is a person, then as you make the picture smaller, you could give that person a ridiculous voice (very deep if the image is of a woman, very high and squeaky if the image is of a man), or make the person do something ridiculous (like a funny dance). For people with a spider phobia, why not give your spider image a set of clogs (one on the end of each leg) and make it do a clog dance before making it disappear over the horizon. I’m sure you could come up with other ideas of your own. The basic idea is to remove the negative emotional impact from the first thought before removing it out of your vision and summoning your release thought.
As with the first thought modifier, this simple technique can replace a negative, stress provoking thought with a positive, peace-provoking thought, and can provide effective and rapid stress relief.
Also, like the first thought modifier, once you have learned this technique, I recommend that you continue to reinforce it in your self-hypnosis practice. By doing so, you will reinforce the technique in your unconscious mind (giving it more effectiveness), and make it more likely that you will use the technique when you need to!