Bad thoughts unfortunately are inevitable due to the very nature of the human condition. We all look back at events in our lives that bring up old memories and darker feelings. We also have a tendency to think the worst or go forward in time and imagine what could happen. So how do we suppress all this? We shouldn't. I know from personal experience both within myself and to loved ones around me that the suppression of bad thoughts simply does not work. There is a build up of pressure that will need to be released one way or the other. That is what lead to a major breakdown in my own life and in the life of someone I know dearly.
Thought itself is simply that. It is thought. Now this is where I will get controversial. Thought has absolutely no inherent power of itself. It is the intent and focus behind the thought that gives it the ability to effect us deeply. I can remember times in my past that were embarrassing. Looking back just after the event made me cringe. Now when I look back it is hysterical. The thought has not changed only my attitude to the thought. If I decided to focus on the humiliation aspect then I am infusing that thought with that particular attribute and thus it will bring out that response within me. However allowing the thought to be just that,a thought, allows it then to be a fleeting image as if I am just watching a cinema screen.
Now, dealing with heavy or traumatic thoughts is more difficult because we have attached more meaning to those thoughts. The emotional response I get from remembering an embarrassing moment compared to a severely traumatic moment is obviously different. Yet suppressing those thoughts gives them extra power by forcing them down into the back corridors of the mind where they fester and gain more power simply by not being released. I once had a psychiatrist who told me, during an intense recounting of an incident that happened to me, that he could see I was broken but basically do not worry and here is some medication. The thoughts were not dealt with and thus my condition became worse. Things improved as I released those thoughts by not attaching any power to them.
Now, I know what I am saying is purely a personal view. Yet it is based on what worked for me when I had no other option. I was given no external help and so I needed to deal quickly and efficiently with the trauma so that I could move on and no longer be bound by the past. My method for dealing with bad thoughts had three steps.
I had an intense look at the past circumstances, acknowledging the intense anger that was contained within me and most importantly allowing myself to be angry and even hateful without guilt of any kind. This was vital for moving on because it acknowledged how I truly felt. All the talk of "let it go" or "get over it" was nonsense. I needed to acknowledge the hurt and in my minds eye I even imagined revenge scenarios to help release the build of anger. I would not necessarily recommend this approach however, it worked wonders for me.
This next step involved withdrawing power that I had instilled within the thoughts back to myself. This process allowed me to then see that the people and events that had occurred no longer held any power over me and thus they became weaker as I became stronger. This reclaiming of my own personal power was another vital step. I need to be me again, free of the chains that I thought others had placed upon me and acknowledging that I was now in control and that they were nothing brought about an intense feeling of freedom. This then lead me to the next step.
This final step was not possible without the other two, for this step involved forgiveness. Now when I talk of forgiveness I am not talking about simply "turning the other cheek" or "I forgive you for what you have done to me". No, forgiveness here was an extension of the previous step and involved an honest look at my part in the situation. What role did I play? In the long run have I benefited from the experience? I certainly found a lot out about myself and how much strength I have. I have also gained valuable insights that have helped others too. So all in all the experience was important to my growth as a human being. In fact I looked back on one of the incidents and was grateful that it occurred for the valuable lessons I had been taught and for the discoveries I had made about myself. That is when forgiveness starts to work and "turning the other cheek" becomes "turning the other mind" and thus looking at the situation with a completely new and fresh outlook.
So from anger to reclaiming power to forgiveness, this is how I dealt with those bad thoughts. It is a method I devised due to circumstance and a method I still use. Suppressing all of that would have been disastrous in the long run. I did not want to forget, I wanted to heal and healing is what I found.