So telling yourself to stop worrying can actually lead to worrying more!
And we don't want that!
Social psychologist Daniel Wegner, PhD. at Harvard University, pioneered this research in his "white bear" experiments in 1987.
He asked people to think whatever they wanted for 5 minutes, but not to think of a white bear. If they thought of a white bear, they signalled this by ringing a bell. Guess what happened...
They thought of a white bear on average more than once per minute!
So why doesn’t our brain just stop thinking about something when we tell it to?
Wegner theorized that when we try not to think of something, one part of our mind does try to avoid the thought, but another part keeps checking in to make sure you’re not having the thought—which essentially means you’re thinking about it!
So your brains not really being rebellious, it’s just trying too hard and being really ineffective!
It even gets more interesting. The same group was asked to think for 5 minutes, but this time to try to think of a white bear. This group was compared to a group who didn’t do the initial exercise to suppress the thought.
What they found was that the group who was initially asked to suppress the thought, had significantly more thoughts about the white bear than the group who was never asked to suppress the thought.
They concluded that the act of suppressing thoughts can lead to more obsessive thoughts later.
So if you can’t avoid your unwanted thoughts and worries by telling yourself to stop thinking about them, what can you do?
Wegner has a few suggestions.
Guess what one of them is!
That’s right, “worry time”—the strategy that Contain Your Brain is based on.
Telling your brain that you will deal with the worry at a later time helps your brain release the worry in the moment.
So, isn't it time you try a strategy that works!
Contain Your Brain.
Worry Less. Live More.