We all want to distance ourselves from painful experiences. I am referring to thoughts, emotions and experiences which drain our mental strength.
We are sorting out our wardrobe and cupboards, our lofts and garages. We clear out, what is not serving us any longer. We get rid of it - its goodbye forever.
While this works beautifully for the old trousers, the beach towel or the "buy it now" disgusting holiday wine; this concept does not translate into working with those negative experiences that are part of our life. And it does not work for stressful thoughts.
There's no pile we can make to unload those feelings, no charity shop that will take them from us. And it seems the more we try to get rid of them, the more the stressful thought, depleting emotion or tiring behaviour comes back. Often with increasing force.
Why getting rid of thoughts and emotions is a problem
We cannot get rid of thoughts or emotions – because they are a part of our mind, hardwired into our brains. I'm not asking you to succumb to suffering. But to notice that there are different ways to deal with the mental stressors. Some strategies are depleting. Others nurture your resilience and better support your development to work with stressors in the present and the future.
Trying to get rid of the unwanted strengthens its existence.
Why? Because we must notice what we do not want before we say (or think) that we do not want it. In other words, everything that hurts us, which we want to extinguish must be elicited in the first place. What's more, neuropsychological research tells us that every time we evoke a connection in our brains and minds, we strengthen it. Not what we want, right?
Reconsider the belief that "getting rid of" is going to help
Resilience is based on the strengthening of your ability to bounce back from the difficulty. But bouncing back can only be achieved when we are encountering and facing those difficulties. Becoming aware that following the phantasy of "getting rid of" can fire back is the first step to change.