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(Unhook from Thoughts)

If you are on this skills page, you are likely caught up in unhelpful thoughts.
Observing  thoughts from a more distant vantage point can decrease suffering. 

When we view our thoughts as mental activity, we are also free to choose our own actions (rather than doing what our thoughts tell us to do).
Skill Descriptions

Explore skill descriptions, audios and videos below. 

Try something new or return to your favorite.

Skill Descriptions

Mind as Critic


Take a moment to notice what your mind is doing right now--is it critiquing you, your body, your emotions? See if you can notice the mind's tendency to critique things. Maybe imagine your mind as a art or film critic sitting up in the stands, making commentary. Give it a voice and mannerisms. Notice that its critiquing is out of fear. It is afraid you will be hurt. Don't get lost in the content of the critiques. Instead offer compassion to the part of you that is afraid.

Name the Story


Our minds like to create stories. Stories about our past, our future, who we are, etc. What story is Your Mind telling You RIGHT now? Is it the "I'll never change story," for example? See if you can notice the story without getting caught up in the plot. Observe: "Aha, here comes the XYZ story! I know that one!" Practice observing the stories your mind tells, while you choose actions that enhance your life.



Sometimes we can get hooked by a thought or a feeling. It grabs us by the gut and starts to pull us around… just like a fish on a hook. If you have taken the bait, see if you can unhook from your thoughts and engage in something that matters to you .

Is it Workable?


When Your Mind gives you thoughts, You have a choice of whether to listen to them or not. Write down your thoughts and ask yourself "Is it workable to listen to these thoughts? Does it take me closer to the life that I want or further away?"

Thoughts are Bullies


Sometimes our thoughts try to push us around; Tell us what to do. See if in this moment You can choose, instead of being pushed around by your thoughts.

Funny Voice


Choose a fictional character (e.g., Donald Duck) and say your thoughts out loud using that character's voice. Thoughts want to be taken seriously, but see if you can be playful with them.

Mind is a Box of Junk


Our minds keep everything, even when things stop being useful to us. Is the thought you are having useful or is it old junk that you have been carrying around for a long time? See if you can imagine your thoughts as old junk.

Leaves on a Stream

(Audio - 13 min)

(Portland Psychotherapy)

00:00 / 01:04

Physicalizing Exercise

(Audio - 15 min)

(Portland Psychotherapy)

00:00 / 01:04
intrusive thoughts about self harm.jpg

Watch Thinking

Take a difficult thought that you are having. Say it over in your mind. Now, add the phrase "I am having the thought that..." Say it this way several times. Now, add another phrase, saying it this way: "I am noticing that I am having the thought that..."

Thoughts as Music


Imagine your thoughts are the lyrics of a song and sing along. You might try a familiar tune like "happy birthday." See if you can let your thoughts play in the background (like an old familiar song or maybe a doom and gloom radio).



We can get all caught up or entangled in our thoughts. This is most likely to happen when their content is upsetting. See if you can notice that thoughts are mental activity, nothing more, nothing less and see if you can untangle from your thoughts. It might help to use your 5 senses to get out of your heador go for a mindful walk (noticing what you can see, smell, hear taste, and touch).

Thoughts on Parade


Imagine that you are watching all of the thoughts you have right now marching by on parade floats and flags. Rather than joining the parade, practice being an observer and watching the parade go by.


There is you and then there is your mind. See if you can notice the difference between the two. Your mind is a tool that evolved for comparing/evaluating, predicting and problem solving. In some situations it is helpful, and in others, it isn't. If your mind is trying to insert itself where it is not helpful, politely thank it for doing its job, but don't get caught up in the content it produces.

You or Your Mind?

Our Programming


Everything that we have heard or seen is programmed in our brain. Nursery rhymes that we have not heard in ages can be cued up with a few words ("Mary had a little...). Notice that other thoughts are like this too ("Thin is..."). This is our programming and we can't change the songs that we have been sung, but we can recognize our thoughts as our programming, and base our choices on what enhances our lives. Right now, see if you can recognize your thoughts as programming that you can override.

Mind as Advisor


Consider the thought you are having. What do you get if you “buy” into that thought and the advice it gives? Does it bring you closer to your values (or the life you want), or further away? For example, consider the thought: "I do not deserve love." Is "buying" this thought a good investment? If not, practice letting it go.

Tin Can Metaphor

(Audio - 15 min)

(Joseph Ciarrochi)

00:00 / 01:04

Mindful Eating

(Audio - 8 min)

(Portland Psychotherapy)

00:00 / 01:04

Leaves on a Stream

(Video - 4 min)

How the Mind Evolved to Create Suffering

(Video - 4 min)

Sushi Train

(Video - 2 min)

I'm Noticing the Thought

(Video - 2 min)

You are Not Your Thoughts

(Video - 4 min)

Thanking Your Mind

(Video - 2 min)

Passengers On a Bus

(Video - 5 min)

Choice Point
(Video - 3 min)

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