True Happiness Blog

Thought Defusion

October 30th

Most people are slaves to their thoughts. Are you one of them? An important part of the work that I do with most of my patients is to teach them how to separate themselves from their thoughts. This skill is an essential happiness strategy. Thoughts are not the truth – period. In fact the majority of thoughts that you have originate from past experiences and are therefore nothing more or less than distortions of present-moment reality. What’s more if we fuse with our thoughts, i.e. believe them and identify with them, we give our power to them and they start directing how we feel and behave. This is unconscious living! A healthy mature adult is able to choose whether they believe their thoughts or not. By all means if you have thoughts that empower you and enable you to move towards greater health, personal growth and intimacy wonderful believe them and use them to your advantage. However if you are like the millions of people who are plagued with life-depleting thoughts, worries and concerns, such as ‘I am not good enough,’ then you are suffering needlessly. You have a choice. Next time you become aware of a negative or unpleasant thought or image, take a couple of long, slow, deep breaths and then use one of the following thought defusion techniques:

  • Say to yourself, ‘Oh, that’s my mind speaking; let’s listen to what it has to say.’
  • Say to yourself, ‘My mind is telling a story about … ’
  • Say sincerely to your thoughts: ‘Thank you for your perspective, mind.’
  • Witness and observe your thoughts without judging them (see ‘Mindfulness’, p. 00).
  • Imagine those thoughts are coming from a small gremlin and say to yourself, ‘I see you and accept you.’
  • Imagine those thoughts on a karaoke screen – change the colour and font, make them small.
  • Say to yourself: ‘My thoughts on this situation are … ’


More often than not, using any one of these will reduce the intensity of the uncomfortable feelings that you are experiencing. It’s often just a case of finding the one that works for you.

Author: Dr Mark Atkinson