Taming the Mind: How Cognitive Defusion Transforms Your Inner World


Kaylee Procter


silhouette of man standing on mountain during sunset
silhouette of man standing on mountain during sunset

In the whirlwind of modern life, our minds can often feel like a never-ending stream of thoughts and emotions. It may be like we’re trapped in a storm while at sea, being swept away by the waves and then brought back up to the surface, only to be swept away again. This is where cognitive defusion can help. Let’s explore this concept.

What's the Noise in Your Head?

We all have those moments when our minds are buzzing with self-doubt, anxiety, or worries about the past and future. "I'm not good enough," "What if I fail?" or "I should have done that differently" are common thoughts experienced by many of us. It's like a broken record that keeps playing, driving our moods and behaviours.

The Power of Cognitive Defusion

Cognitive defusion is like the volume control for this inner chatter. It's a technique that can help you separate from your thoughts and take back control of your behaviour so that you can live a life aligned with how you WANT to be showing up.

Here's how it works:

1. Observation Without Judgment: Instead of getting caught up in your thoughts, you learn to observe them as if they’re clouds in the sky. The key is to not judge or attach yourself to them, work on only noticing them.

2. Change Your Language: You start to recognize how the words you use can fuel your emotional state. By adjusting the way you talk to yourself, you can reduce the intensity of your emotions. An example of this is: rather than saying “I am anxious,” try saying “I am feeling anxious.”

3. Embrace Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness to be in the present moment is a helpful strategy for a variety of struggles. It can help prevent you from spending too much time in the past or the future, thus allowing you to live a life more aligned with your values in the present.

Practical Examples of Cognitive Defusion

  • ·Start practicing distancing yourself from your thoughts by saying “I’m noticing that I am having the thought that ________.” When we distance ourselves from our thoughts we can then start to analyze if they’re helpful/unhelpful, kind/unkind, realistic/unrealistic.

  • Notice the story that you are telling yourself. Normally the narratives that we construct about ourselves have a common theme. Is it the “not good enough” story, the “I have to be perfect” story etc.? Try naming this story and when you notice it arise in the form of thoughts, say to yourself “there’s the (not good enough) story again.”

  • Label your thoughts as “just thoughts.” So often, we accept our thoughts as facts, but this is untrue. For example, you can have the thought that the sky is purple, but we know that this is untrue.

  • Visualize your thoughts as leaves floating on a stream. As a thought appears, place it on a leaf and watch it float way. This helps to solidify the idea that thoughts are “just thoughts,” and we don’t need to hold on to them. It is possible to let them go.

Cognitive defusion is not about getting rid of your thoughts; it's about changing your relationship with them. It's like having a remote control for your mind, where you can turn down the volume on self-doubt and anxiety. In a world where mental well-being is so important, cognitive defusion is your ally, helping you lead a more peaceful and fulfilling life. So, why not give it a try? Your mind will thank you!

As always, if you would like to learn more about these skills or you need support cultivating the life that you want, please feel free to reach out for a complimentary phone consultation. I’m happy to help!