Invisible Injuries- Mental health ambassadors

S03 - Dealing with unwelcome thoughts 6

October 22, 2021

thank you sign on the road where paramedics rescued a roadside crash victim with messaging in text

"How to beat the 'if only' monster on the shoulder"

"If only" can be a handicapping recurrent thought for us, in that it has the powerful result of keeping us stuck in the present.

Combat/duty stress survivors have found this activity both highly effective and fun to do... They're encouraged to "Externalise the problem" by sitting it on their shoulder, in such a way that it can be seen as an object in its own right, rather than as an internal part of them.

Once on the shoulder, not only can they get a good look at it, in its entirety, but also they can get into direct and assertive conversation with it. The object of the conversation is to "beat it"

The most important part is the next part, when the person comes up with 3-4 things they'd like to say to the monster...
e.g. "It's happened, and there's nothing anyone can do about it"
"Shut up, get out of my life, Im moving on"
"I'll give you more than "if only..." if you don't shut it!" and other ruder more explicit commands!

For best results –“horses for courses” applies. Some might find one tool or technique helpful, others will experiment with another that proves helpful. All are available to try and it’s often about finding “what works” for you. 

🖨 reprinted with permission @johnhendenauthor
@wiley-publishing @beatingcombatstress