How to get rid of dark thoughts

Nicole asks…

“Wow, I’m so glad I found this website because I’m literally going crazy. Okay, so I’m 18 and my issue all started out with anxiety due to some things, where I started thinking about all these ways I could die, etc…

When that phase passed I was just sitting in my room studying when my sister was listening to some song where it mentioned the devil. I started to think about all those movies I’ve watched, from all the exorcism movies to the paranormal movies and so on. I’ve watched them all because I loved watching horror movies! God knows why. So I started thinking these intense thoughts how that could happen to me, how all those movies were based on a true story, etc.

I get scared even more when I start thinking that me constantly THINKING about it, makes me IMAGINE something, or in some way call out “the bad energies” or whatever…

I’ve seen in a comment on your “scary movie” post where someone as getting up at 3am. I’ve also heard that that’s when the gates of hell open or something, so when I get up during the night the first thing I do is look at the clock, when it’s 3 am I freak out.

I’ve had panic attacks, anxiety attacks, you name it just because of this. I’ve been to counseling and other professional people, but yet no one actually gave me good advice except for breathing techniques that DID help, but the thoughts are still there. I try not to think about it… but if you tell yourself for ex: ‘don’t think about the pig’, you think about the pig, right? :P Please help me :(“

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Okay… so… ATTENTION is the volume control for thoughts. That’s the root cause. You’ve been giving attention and meaning to dark thoughts so it’s no surprise that it’s those thoughts that are rattling around your head, and surface on a regular basis…

Not thinking about it is the right thing to do, and also to SEE clearly that attention and MEANING makes thoughts grow. So your attitude is also important and the right attitude is “don’t care.” Whatever comes related to all this horror… “don’t care” then remove attention and all that amounts to ignoring, consistently.

Do the gates of hell open at 3am? NOOO! That’s an example of giving meaning, giving truth and worst of all, giving FEAR to a thought can cause a mental nightmare. Now the first thing you do if you wake up is look at the clock… because you made it IMPORTANT, you feared it and so it’s right there in the forefront of your mind.

The only bad energy you call forth is the bad energy you feel when thinking dark thoughts, but you are in control so make a clear and calm decision… “I will not feed my mind any more horror, I will not think about this or any related subject any more.”

Don’t think of a pig yes, or what we like to call “the pink elephant” :-) Can’t be done can it? The trick is to put your attention somewhere else. So if I say “Don’t think of a pig” you immediately think of a cow. That’s the only way to keep piggy out!

So make this decision “NO MORE” and if it pops into your mind, have a don’t care attitude and put attention elsewhere.

Now drop THE PROBLEM because that is more attention. The end-goal is that these thoughts aren’t there and you’re not even aware they’re not there, they’re just NOT THERE.

For that to happen, remove meaning and attention every time a thought pops, give these thoughts the cold, cold, shoulder.

If any thoughts FEEL true, FEEL like they demand attention, then use reason at first to see… “It’s just a silly movie” “The 3am thing is garbage, I’m totally safe.” Thoughts aren’t true, they come with the quality you previously gave, that is all. So thoughts that seem true get told a new truth “Silly movie” etc, every time they come. And soon enough, you’ll see that the idea of 3am, rather than feel true feels like a lie, because that’s the new quality you now give repeatedly because of your new understanding. And it is a lie, so you’re safe to give it that quality.

Dark thought >> new truth if needed >> don’t care attitude >> remove attention quickly. Repeat until forgotten.

And… stop putting dark thoughts IN and then dark thoughts won’t come OUT. Garbage in, garbage out.

Oh and… these so called “based on a true story movies”… NOT TRUE, that’s all you need to know, trust me, they’re not true and you can trust that.

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Michael Kinnaird is the author of Happy Guide, the result of a 20 year exploration into what works for health and happiness.

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35 thoughts on “How to get rid of dark thoughts

  1. Dear James,

    Thank you for your kind attention and guidance. The trouble is that these thought are always accompanied by a body sensation, a feeling, that is difficult to ignore. Like a very dark cloud, or pressure somewhere in my body (head, stomach). And I say they seem to be coming from “outside”, because they literally smash me out of nowhere. I keep telling myself that a feeling is just a feeling, but I would prefer to get rid of this for good. I know it sounds wired, but it is exactly what is happening.

    I wish you all the best,

    LL

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    1. You’re very welcome Liuba. I can’t be 100% sure but that sounds to me like little “waves” of anxiety. I used to experience something very similar and it does feel “external” like it’s come out of nowhere. The answer is to remove all worries and causes of anxiety. All 6 lifestyle elements are important of course, but I’d definitely prioritize “listening” as we call it, and meditation. Achieving a still, peaceful mind is an absolute blessing :)

      https://happy.guide/2010/10/13/what-does-meditation-do
      https://happy.guide/2011/10/27/start-meditating

      Best wishes,
      James

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      1. James, thanks again. I will do a bit of reading and some effort on my side, hopefully in the right direction. All will be fine after a while…

        Regards,
        LL

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      2. James and all,

        Already I can share some miniature progress. I was not quite sure I understood the “ignore” and “don’t care” concept, I can’t hide I was struggling with that, but today I think I had a flash of “ahaaa” and is something like this: it all starts from saying “yes” in you mind to whatever it is you are scared of will happen or to whatever it is the person that stresses you wants. Agreeing and accepting it prevents you from fighting and once you stop fighting you will no longer be attached and you can simply say ” I don’t care.” Accepting the worse gives you some freedom, because you are no longer scared.

        Greetings,
        LL

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      3. Hi Liuba, as you practice living in the moment and awareness it becomes simpler than any thought like “don’t care” and “acceptance.” Acceptance is non-resistance to what is, and simple relaxed awareness of what is without resistance (a thought) is full acceptance. Now your ACTION, or words are coming from “authentic you” rather than distorted by concepts (shoulds, needs. wants. judgements). To get stable in the state all you need to do is OBSERVE everything that is not that (fear, thoughts, judgements etc).

        Since love is who you are underneath all the ego noise, then what you move into is “love in action” being authentically yourself. So then you realize that you don’t need to control anything on the level of thoughts, rules, behaviours, because the authentic you is so much more spontaneous, smarter and loving than you could ever “think” yourself to be. And you become amazed at how creative the unconscious you can be as you spontaneously and effortlessly respond to situations.

        In a sense, it is ALLOWING the unconscious creative part of you to function fully, and your conscious self is the witness and experiencer of the creative higher self. If that makes sense. It is wholeness.

        So to move into that state, observe everything… your moods, thoughts, reactions, tantrums, all of it. By observing it, you are not BEING it, and so you are bringing the light of awareness to it, which transforms. And soon your aligned thoughts become extremely helpful, insightful and timely. All by just simple awareness. So don’t care and acceptance are tools to release beliefs and resistance that are keeping you stuck in a mind-identified, controlling state, but for what you are talking about there, simple awareness is a better way to go, just watch it, watch your reactions, your thoughts. Watch it all.

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  2. Hi dear all,

    I have had trouble from time to time with negative and confusing thoughts of fear of hurting myself etc. It feels like they are coming from outside, not from myself. Like someone is sending negativity towards me and in those times I just feel like I want it to stop.

    I have been managing somehow, but its very unpleasant and it brings a lot of tension in my life.

    Please share some insight if you can. Thanks a million.

    LL

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    1. Hi Liuba, it may feel like they’re coming from outside but they’re not. These thoughts are created out of your overall state and by giving them attention and a sense of importance (this is completely understandable, they SEEM important).

      The best thing to do is follow the advice in the article. Remove attention and importance from these ideas by ignoring them, not caring about them, no matter how important they may seem. Thoughts come back depending on how we react to them, what sense of importance we give them. So “don’t care” / ignore is always the answer.

      Please also bear in mind that your whole lifestyle affects your thinking. it’s important to setup your life so that you can live in a healthy, calm, relaxed way. A hectic lifestyle for example, is conducive to stress and tension and this can play havoc with your thinking. Rational thought is very difficult in that state. Here is the “big stuff” of health and happiness. When you put these things in place, you’ll have both health and peace of mind, which results in what can only be described as “happiness for no reason”…

      https://happy.guide/2009/12/05/big-stuff

      Let me know what you think.

      Best wishes,
      James

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  3. Ok question!! So I had this thought several years ago with a terrible fearful emotion that popped in my head “what if everything is a dream nothing is real” for years I have had all kinds of what if thoughts answers questions and of course fear pop into my mind!!! I don’t want these questions or answers to be there it’s like my mind sees this as a problem and when I try to use logic example of course I’m not dreaming duh my mind will send me a thought yeah but what if????! And it will list it’s reasons nothing could be real!!! Why is my mind doing This???!why does is make up all these answers and what if questions? I don’t purposely think them they just come to me!

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    1. Hi Randi, Your mind is running the fear program. Your initial reaction to the thought was fear, so it doesn’t matter whether it is a thought you’re scared of, or a lion, the mind will react in the same way, not with logic. It’s actually an anti-logic state, flight or flight, or manic “problem solving.” Your mind will keep showing you the thing you fear, because your attitude is that there is danger. This is primitive. By understanding what’s happening, you can decide to simply ignore all thoughts with a don’t care attitude (the opposite of fear), which communicates to the unconscious that the “danger” is gone. After that, the thoughts die away if you remain consistent in the new meaning and ignoring.

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      1. I have read alt about people having the same thought over and over although I do have that I also have new related thoughts…I will try not to care and then my mind will say hey u haven’t considered this angle!!! And it creates a thought and bam it pops into my mind before I can stop it!!! Is this my mind trying to trick me into thinking by coming up with new related thoughts to torment me with?

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      2. No, your mind isn’t trying to trick you. If you think about real life dangers and fear related to them, the mind will want you to look at all angles. As I said, it’s quite a primitive function evolved to protect us from life threatening danger. Also, these things become habits. If you simply want the thoughts to stop coming, then you just stop caring and looking for meaning. That’s one of the pitfalls, the big pitfalls actually… people understandably want to know what these thoughts MEAN. They mean you feared and ran the fear program and got good at doing that the more you did it. Trauma can also cause fear flashes which can be quite disturbing, but when you understand what it is, then the relaxation you get from that understanding is part of the letting go process — it enables you to look at flashes, anxiety, thoughts etc from a new position of knowing and relaxation about it all. Also, understanding that it dies away will give you relaxation, because you know what to expect, so as it continues a while, reducing in frequency and intensity generally over time, you don’t freak out that it’s still there. Imagine with real dangers, like lions say, your mind will KEEP showing you what YOU SAID was danger, to make sure you are still sure the danger is gone.

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      3. Hey I know it’s been a while but I have another question….I have tried ur method and the what if questions seem to shout at me….sometimes it’s the same questions, sometimes it new questions or new thoughts that relate to the same topic of my fear it’s not one or two either it’s a lot of thoughts, lots what if this or that’s …sometimes it’s just a feeling of doubt…..but they are so strong!! It’s like my mind is convinced nothing is real and try’s it’s best to convince my conscious mind that I should believe it by telling me a million different ways….how do I deal with the doubt and fear? It’s hard to ignore an emotion that says believe every thought that comes thru ur head…..sometimes I feel like I’m living a lie like I’m already crazy but I know deep down that I don’t believe my thoughts but I get this feeling as though I do

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      4. Hi Randi, have another read of Michael’s answers if needed, to understand the fear / sense of importance connection. Also, it’s probable that you have setup the conditions for this kind of issue, in your life. Are you living in a calm, relaxed way? Are you getting enough healthy food, sleep, exercise? Are you practicing “listening”? All these things matter.

        Although ignore/don’t care is the answer “in the moment,” it’s also important to remove the causes of this type of issue. By changing your state, you allow your mind to relax, to feel that all is well, that you are SAFE. It’s easy to fall into the trap of living in a kind of permanent low-level stress. In this mode, your mind feels that there is a certain danger present, as Michael mentioned, and so it keeps looking at things from new angles, it keeps “reeling,” looking for solutions to the “danger”. By setting up a relaxed way of life, it’s much easier to ignore the thoughts and allow your mind to realize that the “danger” has passed.

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  4. Also Amanda, if you are sensitive and tend to react like this after horror movies and other media like news, then it’s best to avoid. Your brain is basically interpreting your experience in a way that means “there is danger.” And that is why we can freak out after watching some movies. We KNOW it’s just a movie, yet the primitive part of the brain still freaks out, reacts to it as if it were real.

    Here’s another article that explains about scary movies: https://happy.guide/2008/09/01/scary-movie/

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