Thursday, May 29, 2014

5 Ways I Wrestle With The White Bear

I recently saw an article on Psychology Today's site about how to get your brain to quit nagging you. It was about intrusive thoughts and ways to deal with them.

Referring to a test, the intrusive thought used was a white bear. Subjects were asked to either not think of a white bear or to think of a white bear.

My head is polar bear central!

Please click here to refer to the article. It is worth a read.

I'll go through the recommendations and how they work (or don't work) for me.

Invite the bear in

Embrace the intrusive thought and write it down or talk about it. Ha! yeah. All that does with me is justify the thought and give it dimensions I could only imagine it having before. My cat's idea to turn up her nose at her wet food becomes a horrible disease that will somehow spread to my dog and then to me.

Assign "worry time"

All day every day is "worry time"! How about I set aside 10 to 15 minutes to NOT worry! Wait - if I could do that then keeping the white bears at bay would be a cinch.

Immerse yourself

This idea is actually the only one that works for me. I have to get so involved with something else that the white bear is slowly pushed from my peripheral vision and out into the cold. The idea is for me to become so obsessed with, oh, I don't know, let's say watching the entire series "Breaking Bad", that I really forget what color that bear was anyway. I may see other bears! Oh, yes! But - they won't be the white bear that drove me to the Netflix in the first place.

Make a plan

This doesn't work for me for the reason that writing it down just makes me think of more little white bears to add to the first. And then I have a whole group of them. Taunting me.

Do it

While this would be good if my white bears were actual actions that needed doing, mine are more ethereal in nature. And since I have a PhD in procrastination - no, wait, I forgot to pick that up - I have learned that my timetable is not the world's timetable.

All in all the suggestions were very good for someone who doesn't suffer from my degree of crazy. For that occasional, worrisome little white bear, the ideas should work. Having just climbed out of bed after a two day jaunt through "Breaking Bad" land, I know that at least one of them, immersing myself, works for my jumbo size polar bears.

And now I have something cute to call my intrusive thoughts. White bears.

How do you handle your white bears?


  1. I have just spent three days doing a boot camp called "Inner reflections". We practised lots of different meditation methods ranging from standard, guided meditations to watching a candle flame, eating a box of sultanas as slowly as possible and taking twenty minutes to walk from one side of the room to other. I've come away from there with no white bears frolicking in my head so something must have worked!

    1. Yay Julie! Mindful breathing does help me when I am in public and have intrusive thoughts and my therapist says that is a form of meditation. I would like to practice meditation more but occasionally when I try it I have a panic attack. Go figure. I am happy for you. That must have been an amazing experience!

  2. very good reading my friend keep up the good work xx

    1. Oh thank you for the kind words melbunny! I appreciate you!