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Talk & Listen Sessions

Friday 28 July 2023

A Preoccupation With Negative Thoughts

A recent discussion amongst members centred around negative thoughts and being preoccupied with them. The question to which we sought an answer was how do we cope with the thoughts and how do we deal with the preoccupation. It seems that the level of distress correlates with both the perceived severity of the issue that gives rise to the thoughts and our inability to control the preoccupation. The more we can't see a way out the more stuck we feel. Our need to break free from the mental anguish remains unfulfilled and, the longer this lasts, the more despondent we get.

One of the members explained that their coping strategy was to allow the thoughts to play out but to actively engage in doing something that would provide comfort or pleasure at the same time. Eating food, not necessarily due to feeling hungry, but to feel the comfort it provides was one such strategy. Another was to fantasise about different scenarios in relation to the situation causing the distress. If our boss at work has been rude or demanding, or our partner has been hurtful or abusive, a coping strategy might be to enter a dreamworld of our own making where we "get them back" with a vengeance! 

If, in our fantasy, we're hurling abuse at our partner, but this is all in our head, then it still stays in our head! It then occupies a space that could be taken up by thinking about something more pleasurable or less challenging which in turn would allow us to experience positive, happier feelings. This is unless the fantasy is some sort of catharsis, in which case we are deriving a cleansing of negativity which has the effect or appearance of pleasure. It's some sort of masking mechanism. It seems to be the same with comfort eating. It could be the double quarter pounder with cheese and large fries provides an adequate level of pleasure to mask some of the discomfort of negative thoughts. It's temporary respite though, isn't it?

Someone commented that one of the most courageous decisions we can ever make is to finally let go of what is hurting our heart and soul. Perhaps though, in order to get to a point where we can feel ready for such closure, we need to first endure the emotional pain. If we don't, it will stay in our system unresolved, like a massive clump of molten lead weighing us down and clogging us up. We need to go through a period of processing what has happened, to work through all the positive and negative flickers of realisation, the "eureka moments", and to come out stronger than when we started. 

If someone or something has caused us turmoil in our lives we can't in a flash just banish the anger, despair or sadness that has been created; we are not a light switch! The initial pain is simply the start of a journey, possibly long distance, with many stops on the way. It's only when we reach our destination that we can get off the train.  

Talk & Listen Sessions

What we’re about

Talk and Listen Sessions


Feeling the need to talk about a troubling issue, share something that's playing on your mind or simply have something you'd like to talk about? You can do so in our small, informal and friendly group. This is a safe, compassionate and non-judgemental space.

You can take part for free as I don't charge for running these sessions. I use Meetup to manage the actual events. You can sign up for free here:

Talk & Listen

We actively and empathically listen to each person. We try and help the speaker identify and explore their feelings and needs if they would like this. We do not offer each other advice but can offer thoughts to help the speaker gain greater insight.

Everyone who wants to speak will have opportunities to do so and anyone wanting to just listen, empathise and provide feedback is welcome to do so. The talking and the listening are equally important!

A deeper human connection is sought during the session so that people can feel heard and understood with feedback from other members.


We follow an informal but considered way of sharing the space. We use ideas drawn from mentoring, psychotherapy, empathic listening and non-violent communication. Although this may seem a bit like group therapy it is not a formal therapy session. It is not suitable for anyone in crisis or requiring urgent help.

It is more informal, friendly and will involve some discussion in the group, where we can all share our own thoughts and feelings on the issues raised. We will also expand to a more general conversation about some of the subjects that come up and related topics.

The format is more "cafe conversation" rather than "therapy room analysis". The aim is to meet with people in a space encouraging deeper, authentic and meaningful connection compared to, say, a social night out in a pub or a bar where the expectation might be more on "small talk" and "banter" (although that's good too, just a different kind of event!).

Discussion Sessions

I'm also going to arrange some group discussion events where we will have an opportunity to talk about various issues.

These might include subjects such as personal growth, motivation, existentialism, psychoanalytic concepts, human connection, social psychology, emotional intelligence, traumatic experience, positive living, anxiety, depression, happiness and fulfilment, humanity and society, and other topics members wish to bring to the group.

Other Sessions and Events

I may also invite guest facilitators or speakers or arrange visiting events run by other groups or organisations that may be relevant and of interest. These might include seminars, classes etc.

Please feel free to make suggestions of things you may like to be involved in. All of this will take time to evolve and develop as this is a new group and I am trying to find a suitable path for it for the benefit of members.