The metaphor I use for dealing with unwanted thoughts is Pandora. Almost everyone is familiar with this music service; give a thumbs up to the music that you like and a thumbs down to the things you don’t like. I don’t need to ruminate about my failed marriage – when that thought comes into my mind, I can give it a thumbs down and move on to the next thought. Perhaps author Rick Hanson says it better:
Sometimes the inner practices fail you – or at least aren’t matched to the pickle you’re in. You’ve let be, let go, and let in. You sat to meditate and it was like sitting on the stove. You tried to be here now and find the lessons – and wanted to whack the person who told you to do this. You still feel awful, overwhelmed, angry, afraid, inadequate, or depressed. Now what?
Sometimes it helps to change the channel, to take some kind of action. Watch TV, eat a cupcake, ask for a hug, get out of the house, something (not harmful) to shake things up, distract yourself, tune out, burn off steam, etc.
At some point you still have to engage the mind directly and do what you can with your situation. But there is certainly a place for respite or pleasure in its own right, plus these help refuel you for challenges.
Plus, changing channels has the built-in benefit of taking initiative on your own behalf. This helps counter the natural but harmful sense of helplessness that comes from tough times, and it supports the feeling that you and your needs truly matter.
Go to the source for more: Change the Channel | Psychology Today
It may be as simple as the old Perry Como song: “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative and don’t mess with Mr. In-between.”