f you experience intrusive thoughts, registered social worker and psychotherapist Nadia Addesi knows that it’s unrealistic to simply wish them away. Instead, unwelcome thoughts can be shifted so that they aren’t as jarring or overt and you are less likely to ruminate on them. Though everything takes practice, the trick that this Ontario-based therapist provides is simple to implement in your daily life, and we recommend you give it a try.
In a TikTok video with over 140,000 views from late July, Addesi explains that all you have to do with an unwelcome thought is label it as such: a thought. This tactic comes from acceptance and commitment therapy and is a form of cognitive defusion, she said in the footage above, adding, “What we believe in acceptance and commitment therapy is that thoughts are thoughts, thoughts are not facts.”
By labeling an overwhelming or negative thought as a thought, you’re inviting the possibility that it isn’t true — you’re validating the concept that it’s not fact. The example Addesi gave is if you’re thinking to yourself “I am stupid,” but you shift to “I’m having the thought ‘I’m stupid,'” or “I’m noticing I’m having the thought ‘I’m stupid.'” Just by being able to recognize it as a thought, “we’re reinforcing the idea that thoughts are not facts, they are just thoughts,” she noted. “And that takes the power away from the thought.”