Unwelcome Visitors

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Sarah Parker

Change coach, therapist, human being, and founder of Well of Being.


This is my first blog post…. ever. My mind tells me I’m not a natural writer, I’m not creative, just stop writing. Still, I appear to be writing!

I had all sorts of ideas about what I ‘should’ write about. Those ideas did not seem to translate onto the page, so here I am, having scrapped all the ideas I thought about; I’m just writing whatever words arise moment to moment. I currently have no idea how the writing will end, or what words will land on the page. What I do know, however, is that trying to conjure up a blog from my mind rather than my heart will not serve me very well – or any possible readers, for that matter!

Isn’t it sad how our beliefs and rules can get in the way of us doing so much? If I engage with my beliefs that I’m not a natural writer, or I’m not creative, then I’m unlikely to get any words on the paper. Similarly, if I believe the thought that a blog has to be brilliant, or even good, I won’t put anything out. Fortunately, today I see all those thoughts, and I know they are just that – thoughts. They are not ‘the truth’; they are not even ‘my truth’ all the time. They are just like unwelcome visitors who visit me regularly and have done for many years.

In the past, I entertained those ‘visitors’ with lavish parties even though their company didn’t bring me joy. I welcomed them in, believing they had something important to bring to my life. I hung on their every word, followed their lead and allowed them to make my decisions for me. Why wouldn’t I? – I believed they were my thoughts, I believed they were me, so I had no choice but to have them around

A 2020 study from psychologists at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario suggests we have 6,200 thoughts every day. Imagine that! 6200 thoughts every day for all our lives and yet, there are some which we see clearly and hold onto and others which pass on by without any fuss or bother. Those that we hold on to tend to be the very ones which are hard to experience – the unwelcome visitors. Thoughts like ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I don’t deserve…’ – I’m sure you have some of your own.

When all is said and done, all thoughts are equal. None has more significance than another until we attach meaning and an identity to it. So, in fact, a thought like ‘I’m not good enough’ is no more important or meaningful than ‘I’m going to wear blue pants today’ until our human minds become involved.

When we begin to interact with certain thoughts, perhaps because they resonate with our experiences or things others have said, we innocently give them importance and they return again and again. They become habitual visitors. Each time they show up, we invite them in, make them a drink and listen to their words intently. Each time we invite them in, we give them power and they return again and again, until they almost take up residence in our minds.

So, should we stop letting them in? Is that the solution? We could perhaps try, but what happens when you knock on a door of someone’s house and they don’t answer?

Generally, we knock again harder. That is kind of what our thoughts do if we try to keep them out. They get louder and more persistent. If keeping them out isn’t the answer, and entertaining them isn’t either, what could possibly help?

I would suggest you let them in, but make sure the back door is open and the kettle isn’t on! Let the thoughts enter so they don’t get louder but try not to engage with them in the same way. Let them spend time wandering round. Observe them without entertaining them and give them space. You will find that soon those unwanted visitors will get bored of being there and they will leave through the back door.

For sure, they will likely return again and again but as they begin to see that they are no longer valued by you, they will visit less frequently and have much less impact on you.
Imagine that – you don’t have to entertain difficult visitors in the same way and you don’t have to share your tea and biscuits with anyone! That must be a great result.

With love
Sarah x

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