Your Pain Creature

Sometimes it is really hard to separate you, the driver of your VAN, from your painful passengers. This exercise can be used to help you get better at distancing yourself from your painful thoughts and struggles with them.

When you notice a painful thought, maybe a story your mind likes to give you a lot (e.g., “I’m never going to get better”, “I’m a bad person”, “I’m unlovable”), see if you can close your eyes and imagine that thought on the floor in front of you. Once you’ve gotten out on the floor, answer the following questions about it:

If it had a color, what color would it be?

If it had a size, how big would it be?

If it had a shape, what shape would it be?

If it had power, how much power would it have?

If it had speed, how fast would it go?

If it had a surface texture, what would it feel like?

Now you can really visualize what your pain creature looks like- you can even draw it if you are feeling extra creative! Look at the object and see if you can reduce any struggle you are having with it by letting it go. Is this thing and all its shape, texture, color, etc. something that is worth your energy? Take note of any thoughts or feelings you have about your pain creature. If you are having a hard time letting go of that struggle, do this exercise over again by visualizing your struggle on the floor in front of you.

When you are ready, invite the pain creature back inside you. Try to do so in a loving, welcoming way, demonstrating your willingness to have them. You don’t have to like them, just be willing to have them.

Pain and Panic | Wickedpedia | Fandom

Label Your Thoughts

First, check out our new webinar on “Mastering Your Mind”- it’s all about how our minds are really powerful and really “problem-focused”. Once you learn a bit about how your mind works, practice “defusing” from your thoughts by labeling them. Labeling your thoughts as judgments and descriptions is one good way to get distance from them. To take it a step further, see if you notice any themes in your thoughts that come up throughout today: are these familiar “stories” that keep you stuck? Come up with a name for that story- like the “I’m too depressed” story- and practice labeling it when it shows up! And then, of course, return to being present so that you can #MakeTodayMeaningful!

Experimenting with Mindful Eating

You’ve probably heard of mindful eating before and maybe you’ve tried it out from time-to-time. Today we’re asking you to experiment with another way to practice mindful eating. First, find a food item that your mind has a lot of “good” judgments about- like candy, sweets, or a savory snack. Then find a food item that you typically don’t experience a lot of cravings for- maybe carrots, celery, or some raisins. Try mindful eating with the “good” food item first: notice the descriptions and judgments your mind gives you while you smell, taste, feel, hear, and see the food. Some of those senses we don’t always use while we are eating, but you can find ways to get all 5 involved for this exercise! Notice the descriptions (5 senses observations) and judgments (evaluations about those 5 senses observations) your mind gives before you put the food in your mouth, while you are chewing, and after you have swallowed. Really slow down this experience and see if it’s different from your experience when you are normally enjoying this food. Now, try this same practice of mindful eating with the less appealing food item. Again, pay attention to the difference between descriptions and judgments that your mind gives you. After you have finished those two exercises, reflect on the difference in how you engaged with each food item. Was mindful eating easier or harder for one food compared to the other? Was there a difference in the number of descriptions or judgments your mind made for either food item? Was it hard to tell the difference between descriptions and judgments for one food item compared to the other? Did you spend an equal amount of time mindfully eating both? Keep a diary of this practice and try it again at your next meal. The purpose of mindfully eating in this way is to assist you in separating your descriptions from your judgments so that you can loosen the power that your “judgments” might have on your behavior!

How’s your aim?

On our Webinar 1: Finding Meaning page, you’ll see a Bull’s Eye activity to help you reflect on your actions in different values domains. Try it out and see how your aim is! Maybe some values have been easier to follow through on than others? Once you’ve done this exercise, start a values-focused activity that will help improve your aim!

VAN Challenge

Pick a value and do one small thing consistent with that value. Maybe it’s going for a walk, calling a family member you haven’t spoken to in a while, or starting to tackle that work project you have been procrastinating.