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Posted 12/05/2023 in Christian Mental Health Tips

Cognitive Defusion: A Powerful Tool for Managing Difficult Thoughts and Emotions


Cognitive Defusion: A Powerful Tool for Managing Difficult Thoughts and Emotions

Have you ever had a thought that just wouldn't go away? It could have been a negative thought, a self-critical thought, or even a thought that was making you anxious. When we get caught up in our thoughts, it can be difficult to move on and enjoy our lives.

Cognitive defusion is a mindfulness technique that can help you manage difficult thoughts and emotions. It's Cognitive defusion, one many mindfulness practices, teaches you thoughts are just thoughts. Like this content on Facebook.   based on the idea that your thoughts are just thoughts, and they don't have to control you. When you use cognitive defusion, you learn to step back from your thoughts and observe them without judgment. This can help you to reduce the stress and anxiety that difficult thoughts can cause.

In this article, we'll explain what cognitive defusion is and how to use it. We'll also provide some exercises that you can try to practice cognitive defusion on your own.

If you're ready to learn more about how to manage your thoughts and emotions, keep reading!



What is Cognitive Fusion?

Cognitive fusion is a state of mind in which we become so attached to our thoughts and emotions that they start to control our lives. We may believe that our thoughts are true and accurate, even when they are negative or unrealistic. We may also feel like we have to get rid of negative thoughts and emotions, or that we are bad people if we have them.

Cognitive fusion can lead to a number of problems, including anxiety, depression, and stress. It can also make it difficult to make decisions, solve problems, and build healthy relationships.

Here are some examples of cognitive fusion:

  • Thinking "I'm a failure" because you made a mistake.

  • Believing that you're not good enough because someone rejected you.

  • Feeling anxious and worried because you're thinking about all the things that could go wrong.

  • Avoiding certain situations because you're afraid of having negative thoughts or emotions.

If you find yourself getting caught up in your thoughts and emotions, and you're struggling to cope with them, it may be helpful to learn about cognitive defusion.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Visual difference between cognitive fusion and defusion

What is Cognitive Defusion?

Cognitive Defusion is a mindfulness technique that enhances psychological flexibility by allowing you to observe your thoughts without judgment. Defusion techniques work by shifting attention away from the content of thoughts to the process of thinking. The result is less mental turmoil and overthinking, as well as a more balanced perspective

When you practice Cognitive Defusion, you're essentially stepping back from your thoughts and recognizing that they're just thoughts, not absolute truths. This helps create distance between your thoughts and feelings, reducing their power.

Cognitive defusion can be used to manage a variety of difficult thoughts and emotions, including:

  • Negative thoughts about yourself or others

  • Self-critical thoughts

  • Anxious thoughts

  • Intrusive thoughts

  • Ruminating thoughts

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What Does the Bible Say about Cognitive Defusion

Cognitive Defusion, as a psychological concept, is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible. It is a modern therapeutic technique used in the context of cognitive and behavioral psychology. However, there are Bible verses that contain teachings related to mindfulness, managing thoughts, and finding peace of mind, which can be connected to the idea of Cognitive Defusion in some way. Here's a relevant Bible verse:

Philippians 4:8 (NIV): "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

This verse encourages believers to focus their thoughts on positive and virtuous things, which aligns with the idea of directing your mind toward more constructive and positive thinking, a concept that is at the core of Cognitive Defusion.

While the Bible may not explicitly mention modern psychological terms, its teachings often provide guidance on managing thoughts, finding peace, and cultivating a positive mindset. Many find wisdom and comfort in these teachings when dealing with the challenges of the mind.

You may also enjoy: How to overcome negative thoughts biblically

4 Cognitive Defusion Exercises To Free You of Negative Thoughts 

In the same way we can set boundaries with people and situations, we can also set boundaries with our mind (i.e., our thoughts and our feelings)—and thus feel mental separation from overwhelming feelings of guilt.

Like we just discussed, cognitive defusion is a strategy that effectively separates our mind from ourselves. By practicing the following thought exercises, all of which come from acceptance and commitment therapy, over time you will spend less energy fighting with your feelings of guilt and ultimately feel more confident when setting boundaries. Here are some ways to practice cognitive defusion:

Visualize the Sushi Train

The Visualize the Sushi Train skill of Cognitive defusion is a simple but effective way to reduce the power of negative and unhelpful thoughts. It involves imagining your thoughts as a train of sushi plates passing by. You can choose to eat the thoughts that you like and let go of the thoughts that you don't like.

This technique is based on the idea that our thoughts are just thoughts. They are not facts, and they do not have to control us. By imagining our thoughts as a sushi train, we can step back from them and see them for what they are: just thoughts.

To use the Visualize the Sushi Train technique, simply follow these steps:

  1. Imagine that your thoughts are a train of sushi plates passing by.

  2. Notice the thoughts that come up.

  3. Choose to eat the thoughts that you like and let go of the thoughts that you don't like.

  4. If a negative or unhelpful thought comes up, imagine that you are letting it go by on the sushi train.

You can use this technique as often as you like. It is especially helpful when you are feeling down or stressed.

Here is an example of how to use the Visualize the Sushi Train technique:

  • Thought: I'm not good enough.
  • Response: I imagine that the thought "I'm not good enough" is a sushi plate passing by on a train. I choose not to eat that thought. I let it go by.

Note, you can also use this technique to visualize positive thoughts. For example, you could imagine that the thought "I am worthy of love and respect" is a sushi plate passing by on the train. You could choose to eat that thought and let it nourish you.

You may also enjoy: 7 exercises to eliminate negative or unhelpful thinking patterns 

4 Ways Cognitive Defusion Work To Eliminate Negative Thinking Pin and Save for Later!

Add a Catchphrase

The Add a Catchphrase technique of Cognitive defusion is a simple but effective way to reduce the power of negative and unhelpful thoughts. It involves adding a humorous or catchy phrase to the thought to make it less believable and more manageable.

This technique is based on the idea that our thoughts are just thoughts. They are not facts, and they do not have to control us. By adding a catchphrase to our thoughts, we can step back from them and see them for what they are: just thoughts.

To use the Add a Catchphrase technique, simply follow these steps:

  1. Notice the negative or unhelpful thought.

  2. Add a humorous or catchy phrase to the thought.

  3. Repeat the thought with the catchphrase added.

You can use a variety of catchphrases, such as:

  • "But I'm doing my best!"

  • "Just a thought."

  • "That's funny."

  • "Who cares?"

  • "La la la, I can't hear you!"

You can also use your own personal catchphrases. The most important thing is to choose a catchphrase that makes you laugh or think in a more positive way.

Here is an example of how to use the Add a Catchphrase technique:

  • Thought: I'm going to fail this test.

  • Catchphrase: But I'm doing my best!

  • New thought: I'm going to fail this test. But I'm doing my best!

Note, it is important to be silly and playful with this technique. The more fun you have with it, the more effective it will be. You can use the Add a Catchphrase technique with any kind of thought, even positive ones. For example, you could add the catchphrase "But I'm so lucky!" to the thought "I got a promotion at work." This can help you to appreciate your successes and stay grounded in the present moment.



Make Your Thoughts Musical

A simple but effective way to reduce the power of negative and unhelpful thoughts involves singing your negative thoughts to the tune of a familiar song. This can help to make the thoughts less serious and more manageable.

To use the Singing technique, simply follow these steps:

  1. Notice the negative or unhelpful thought.

  2. Choose a familiar song that you enjoy singing.

  3. Sing your negative thought to the tune of the song.

  4. Repeat the thought as many times as you like, until you feel like you have detached from it.

You can sing your thoughts in a serious or silly voice. You can also make up your own songs. The most important thing is to have fun with it and to enjoy the process.

Here is an example of how to use the Singing technique:

  • Thought: I'm going to fail this test.

  • Song: Twinkle, twinkle, little star

  • Sung thought: I'm going to fail this test, I'm going to fail this test.

Note, you can also use this technique to sing positive thoughts. For example, you could sing the thought "I am worthy of love and respect" to the tune of your favorite song. This can help you to appreciate your positive qualities and stay grounded in the present moment.

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Thank You for This Thought

Thank you for this thought technique of cognitive defusion is a simple but effective way to reduce the power of negative and unhelpful thoughts. It involves acknowledging the thought, thanking your mind for it, and then letting it go.

This technique is based on the idea that our thoughts are just thoughts. They are not facts, and they do not have to control us. By thanking our minds for our thoughts, we can step back from them and see them for what they are: just thoughts.

To use the "Thank you for this thought" technique, simply follow these steps:

  1. Notice the negative or unhelpful thought.

  2. Say to yourself, "Thank you for this thought, mind."

  3. Let the thought go.

You can say "Thank you for this thought" out loud, or you can say it to yourself in your head. You can also use a sarcastic tone of voice, if that helps you to distance yourself from the thought.

It is important to be patient when using this technique. It may take some time to learn to let go of your thoughts without getting caught up in them. However, with practice, you will be able to use this technique to reduce the power of negative thoughts and improve your overall well-being.

Here is an example of how to use the "Thank you for this thought" technique:

  • Thought: I'm going to bomb this presentation.

  • Response: Thank you for this thought, mind. I appreciate your concern. However, I know that I am prepared for this presentation. I have practiced my speech over and over again, and I am confident that I will deliver it well.

Note, it is important to be sincere when thanking your mind for the thought. This is not about being sarcastic or dismissive. Rather, it is about acknowledging the thought and then letting it go.

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Tips For Using Cognitive Defusion Techniques

It is important to experiment with different cognitive defusion techniques to find what works best for you. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. The most important thing is to find a technique that helps you to distance yourself from your negative thoughts and see them for what they are: just thoughts.

With all of the above exercises, if you find yourself getting caught up in the thought, gently bring your attention back to whichever technique you are using. You can also gently bring your attention back to the present moment. You can do this by focusing on your breath or by observing your surroundings.

If you are struggling to use cognitive defusion techniques on your own, you may want to consider working with a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of therapy that can help you to learn and practice cognitive defusion techniques.


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About the Author: 

Corine Williams, Ph.D. is Clinical Psychologist that is currently seeing clients in the States of Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. You can find out more about her practice by visiting www.therapyforchristians.com/corinewilliams. In addition to providing individual therapy, Dr. Williams is also passionate about writing books and designing merchandise that educate, uplift, and normalize mental health subject in the Christian community. You can find out more about her at www.booksbycorine.com or by visiting her amazon profile here: https://www.amazon.com/Corine-Hyman/e/B00AWZ5FL2


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