This is a really simple exercise.  The first part is not something I developed and is actually very difficult to give credit to the source.  I have heard this described in Buddhist teachings and also have heard it described by Andy Puddicombe, the co-founder of the Headspace App –

It’s a really simple way of helping to get some distance from difficult thoughts and feelings.  The thing is that it isn’t so much the thoughts and feelings that we experience that cause problems but our reactions to them.  I was actually quite offended when I first heard this but after careful examination, it does appear to be true.

What happens to cause pain is that we experience the thoughts and/or feelings and we attach to them. If these experiences were foodstuffs, we metaphorically throw them into a pan, cook with them and perhaps even serve them at a dinner party!  The attachment creates pain.

Now simply, the next time you experience a painful thought or feeling, practice acknowledging it by simply saying “thinking” or “feeling”.  You will normally find that this allows some space for the thought or feeling to be let go of.  Interestingly this also can work with unpleasant images that pop into the mind  – “picturing”. I suppose, if we work on the premise that all thoughts, feelings and pictures are messages in some form, the labelling presents us with the choice of letting go.  It also tells the sender of the message that it has been received and so both parties are happy.