I've been trying to manage my negative thoughts and I've stumbled on an interesting technique. In order to increase my mindfulness of my ruminations and my thoughts. I started making a check mark on a piece of paper when I had specific thought. I didn't feel like I had the emotional strength to battle every thought, but at least making a little checkmark was easy. Then, deciding I wanted to do this anywhere, I started instead making a quick checkmark gesture with my pointer finger.

The results have been interesting. One effect is I can now more easily sense the heartbeat of my mood. Usually, I could tell how I was feeling at any one time, but I never noticed the flow of things. But with gestural movement, I can remember how often I've been doing it. I can also see if I'm doing it every few minutes or every few seconds.

There's another result that's very interesting and offsetting. Sometimes, the movements are semiautomatic. This fits in with a modular theory of the brain, I think. So, I'll have a fleeting negative thought, reflexively make the gesture, and go "Oh, I just had a negative thought, I didn't notice that. Maybe I should do something." It feels a little strange from the inside.

So, just something that was interesting to me. I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts or interesting information.

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Well this had more upvotes than I was expecting.

[-][anonymous]11y 5

Fascinating! Maybe you could write a step-by-step post, and elaborate on the specifics?

Personally I'd like to have the following questions answered:

Edit: Do you tag both emotions and thoughts?

  • How do you define emotion?
  • How specific/big is your Tag-cloud?
  • Does it ever happen that you are unsure what to tag an emotion as e.g. what you are really feeling? (I guess you could tag that as feeling confused)
  • Does tagging have any reinforcing effect?

I could do that. I feel a little silly writing a post right after this one. It feels redundant or like karma-hogging. Can anyone deprive me of my delusions?

Edit: Done

[-][anonymous]11y 3

Do it. I really want to see the specifics, and I'm guessing others do as well.

[-][anonymous]11y 1

I as long as you are thorough, concrete and specify your method, you should have nothing to worry about, this post is pretty short and doesn't really tell how to implement your strategy, so you should not be running the risk of just rephrasing this post, if done right.

Good luck!


One akrasia technique that's helped me a lot is to learn what the kinesthetic sensation of aversion feels like to me. By noticing when I'm averse, it makes it easier to notice that I should actually think about what's happening.

Normally the thinking makes the aversion go away. Especially if I try to evaluate the question "If I were going to tell someone else how to do X, what would I tell them to do?".

It seems like these techniques work on the similar principle of noticing when you're feeling a particular emotion, so that you can actually act based on it.

Interesting, I'll experiment with that technique.

Actually, perhaps one could combine those two: make an "X" in the air with your index finger whenever you're feeling averse to doing something that you know you should do.

That's very cool. I have had good results with a variety of thought-labeling techniques, but I've never tried setting up a nonverbal labeling habit. The results you describe make sense and sound positive... I'll have to try this the next time I experiment with thought-labeling.

That's interesting. I'll try it!