2. What if I struggle and struggle and seem to get nowhere?
There seems to be a hidden control agenda in our life. When we’re faced with thoughts and feelings we don’t want, we try to control or get rid of them. But how well does this work, and is it even possible that it might make matters worse? The following exercises is another opportunity to experience how trying to control thoughts is
EXERCISE 1: Don't think about a white bear.
We would now like you to try an exercise to illustrate that attempts at control often leads you away from what you want.
For the next two minutes, we would like you to not think about a white bear. Every time you do think about a white bear, just put a mark on a piece of paper, so you can keep track of how many times you think about it. You need to not think about its thick coat or its enormous size.
Ok, begin. Don't read on until you have tried not to think about a white bear for two minutes.
How did that go? How many times did you think about the bear?
Most people find that they think repeatedly about the white bear. People don't seem to have control over such a simple thought. How much more difficult will it be then to control your thoughts related to cancer?
And what about positive feelings? How easy is it to ‘make yourself feel good' when you're feeling bad? Try the exercise below.
EXERCISE 2: Think positively, or else!
We would you like to take the next five minutes to try to hold a positive evaluation in your mind, something like "I am perfect" or "I am great." We would like you to keep track of how many times a negative thought pops into your mind when you are trying to think positively. Each time a negative thought pops into your mind, just make a check mark on a piece of paper.
Ok, begin! Think nothing but a positive thought for five minutes.
How easy was it to think only positive thoughts? Most people find this nearly impossible. This was only for five minutes. Imagine how hard it would be to think positively all the time.