Managing your thoughts

The way you think, feel and act are all linked and can help you to manage your chronic pain. Learning how to manage your thoughts is a big step in helping you to Be Pain Smart.

The first step to managing your thoughts is knowing what they are. If you want to learn how to notice your thoughts, go to the Noticing your thoughts tool. Try using some Thought swaps, to identify helpful thoughts that you can swap for your unhelpful ones. Remember, helpful thoughts allow you to deal better with your problems and to manage your pain. Unhelpful thoughts make you feel worse, get in the way of things and stop you doing what you want to do. When this happens, it is helpful to learn ways to handle these thoughts so that they are not controlling you.

There is an interactive relationship between what you think, what you do and how you feel.

There are lots of ways to manage your thoughts. The two main tools are:

  1. Thought defusion – this is defusing or distancing yourself from your thoughts
  2. Changing your thoughts - this is when you weigh up the proof you have that the thought is true - the Changing your thoughts tool will teach you to learn more

Both take lots of practice, read the section below to see how you can manage your thoughts to help you manage your pain.

Thought defusion

Often you can get swept away or stuck in unhelpful thoughts. Thought defusion is about to making space or distance between you and your thoughts to let these thoughts come and go without holding onto them. When you have more distance between you and your thoughts, you can have time to respond rather than react to what is going on around you and your pain.

There are many ways to try thought defusion. Read through the different ways in the Managing your thoughts guide.  Try using one of the tools for a minute or two and take notice of what happens to your thoughts. Do your thoughts lose their power?

Then use the Managing my thoughts worksheet to pick two of the tools that you will try using for the next few weeks. Give them a go and then write down what you noticed afterwards about your thoughts to help yourself Be Pain Smart.

Use the links below to download the files