This week my therapist was explaining that it is impossible to properly focus on two thoughts at the same time. At least, I think that is what she said, I was busy thinking about something else at that particular moment. The point, and I do have a point, is that this reality is bad news for people struggling with intrusive thoughts caused by things like anxiety and depression.
I’ve been criticized for sometimes getting stuck on a thought I want to share at the expense of the conversation. Other times intrusive thoughts from anxiety and depression may make it seem like someone isn’t paying attention, or that they don’t care. The problem is controlling your thoughts isn’t always something in your control. It certainly doesn’t seem to be something in my control at least.
Instead, my homework has been to work on acknowledging and redirecting those thoughts, something I’ve had limited success with, and something that is a part of the larger approach of mindfulness, which is also something I’ve had limited success with. The problem is, as my therapist pointed out, you can’t focus on two thoughts at once. And you can’t stay mindful if you chase anxious thoughts down the rabbit hole.
I’d like to wrap up this post by saying I’m doing better at being mindful and redirecting distracting thoughts, but I’m just not there yet. And that is okay. Part of this blog is simply raising awareness of the struggles of mental illness that might not be visible and part of that is recognizing that sometimes you’re not doing so well at implementing the tools your therapist gave you because you keep getting distracted by other thoughts. All that matters is that you and all your thoughts keep working towards a better self, even when thought battles keep distracting you from your goals.