Mind fishing and those negative thought patterns

Unsettling subconscious thoughts.

If you go looking for something, anything, a lost possession or missing information, what do you want to find? Something pleasing or something upsetting? Many of us may agree that we don’t want to discover something that will unsettle us. If we are looking for a lost possession then we want to find it and that will relieve us of our unsettling frustration. If we are looking for lost information, we hope to find information that will resolve a puzzle or put our minds at rest, or do we?

Many of us have been in the situation where our minds are not at rest, we find ourselves going over and over again, in our heads, scenarios, what if? And then what? I call this mind fishing. Just like the fisherman sitting for hours hoping to find that big fish, many of us spend time contemplating, looking for that big answer to relieve our worries. So often this can happen automatically, subconsciously, as we go about our daily life.

Sometimes, I think of this fishing metaphor and ponder over that silent fisherman sitting waiting for his catch. I wonder if he fished and fished in the same place and kept on finding an old boot instead of a fish; what would he feel and what would he do? My guess is that he would try and fish in a new location.

Catching those thoughts.

Going back to mind fishing, I wonder if many of us are aware that our minds at times are in search mode, thinking and thinking, trying to find a solution to our worries or maybe trying to explore; re-experience in our heads, to come up with the absolute truth and maybe solution to the problem. The difficulty is, unlike the fisherman, we may not always catch ourselves thinking and if we don’t catch ourselves, we may not be aware that our thoughts are keeping us in a place, where we can’t move forward.

Just like the fisherman who would make a choice to find a different place to fish if he kept getting an old boot, can it work for mind fishing too? Maybe if we can catch ourselves mind fishing and discover what comes into our thoughts, we can have more choice in whether those thoughts are what we need to move forward. If those thoughts are real or fictitious.

Check it out.

Not all our thoughts are fantasy and it’s important at times to check things out, our gut feeling, our intuition, as these thoughts and feelings are often, very insightful, helpful and valid. However, even with good intuition, there is room for distortion with our feelings and then this can impact our thoughts. So checking things out with others can be helpful, but not always easy. It takes a bit of courage to trust that you can have that level of openness and honesty with someone. However, by doing this, it is possible to find those reoccurring negative thinking patterns and sort out the boot from the fish.

Turning those thoughts upside down.

If we discover more boot than fish in our thinking patterns, there is a quite simple and helpful little trick, or maybe mind bate that we can use to help us. Firstly, try at moments in the day to become aware of those boot thoughts as they come to us. If they are negative, it may help to catch that thought and consider what might turn that negative though upside down and into its opposite... a positive version of that thought.

Here is a typical example:

You worry again and again that you were being laughed at secretly for what you had said last night when out with friends. You know this is something you do and have been assured that this is not what is happening by those friends. However, with this reassurance and knowing you can’t change the past now, you still go over the scenario in your head, analysing it and affirming that you really made a fool of yourself.

To turn this negative thought upside down, you can visualise your friends (the ones you are concerned that are maybe laughing at you now behind your back), doing something completely different; maybe getting on with their daily work or anything that is different to the distressing thought that is running in the background of your mind and fuelling your upsetting and negative fantasy about yourself in relation to your conduct last night with your friends.


To do this - to catch the mind fish, the thoughts, to work out if they are real and what we want or not -takes some time and perseverance, particularly if we want to turn them around and reevaluate them. However, over time if we persevere, maybe we can find some positive change. To begin with, maybe just try it out with one particular persistent thought first. If it helps, you can use this trick again when other thoughts, you don’t want, occur.

If you need further assistance, contact a counsellor or psychotherapist who can support you along the way. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Brighton, East Sussex, BN1
Written by Penny Wright, Registered MBACP
Brighton, East Sussex, BN1

My name is Penny. I am an integrative counsellor (registered MBACP) with a friendly and gentle manner. I can draw upon a wide range of therapeutic tools as an integrative counsellor. This can help you with the issues you wish to work through in counselling in a way that truly is geared to your very personal needs.

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