When bad memories surface, there’s a tendency to ignore them or replace them with good thoughts. Although this seems like a reasonable thing to do, it does not work in bringing resolution to negative intrusions that can ruin our day.
Ignoring intruding thoughts and emotions has a paradoxical effect because of the incidental learning, (unintentional or unplanned), outcome that takes place. The more we attempt to avoid thinking about something the greater the tendency to rerun the content.
As far as replacing these intrusive predators with good thoughts or memories, incidentally, the negative context is associated with the positive, rather than replacing one for the other. In other words, incidentally, the negative coupling depletes the value of the positive experience by teaching our interpretative mindscape (default mode network) to connect pleasant experiences with negativity. This negative-positive unintended association, is responsible for sabotaging good fortune because of the incidentally learned equivocal contextual meaning given rather than because of malicious intent.
The Cloud Analogy Applied to Surfacing Negative Memories and Emotions.
When we see clouds we can only acknowledge them and watch them pass. We are not able to control their action or assume they are not there. By using a thought analogous to a cloud, we can learn to observe a negative intrusion without attempting to intervene or control its path. Rather than ignoring or associating negative thoughts with positive content, the intruder is allow to enter and leave our stream of consciousness without intervention.
Initially, learning the cloud analogy method can be challenging because our untrained mind constantly jumps from subject to subject, but as we practice treating the negative thoughts or memories as we do when we see clouds, we are incidentally disciplining our mind to navigate unwanted intrusive thoughts without engaging them. Consequently, when we identify the incidental learning implicit in our planned actions, the paradoxical effect can be used to our advantage.
For more comprehensive details read The MindBody Code