The impact of the Pink Elephant Paradox on our emotions and decisions - Deepstash
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The Pink Elephant Paradox

The Pink Elephant Paradox

Can you imagine a pink elephant? Is it big or small? Hot pink or pastel pink Give your pink elephant as much detail as you can. Now that you have got your pink elephant clear in your head, it is time to stop thinking about it. Think about any other topic for 30 seconds, and observe where your thoughts take you.

How long did you last without the pink elephant creeping back into your mind? For most of us, that pink elephant will appear back in our thoughts within seconds. The same is true of unwanted and intrusive thoughts: the more you try to suppress them, the more they will bother you. T


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The Impact of the Pink Elephant Paradox

  • Propagation of persistent negative emotions. Intrusive or unwanted thoughts are associated with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. However, individuals who are otherwise healthy can also develop intrusive thoughts that are comparable to a clinical obsession. 
  • Increased distractibility. The more an individual struggles with intrusive thoughts, the more distractible they tend to be. 
  • Poor decision-making. Rather than being able to make rational judgments, you may instead be swayed by persistent thoughts that lead you to make the wrong decision.


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How to Manage The Pink Elephant Paradox

  • Becoming more aware and accepting of negative thoughts or feelings can help to reduce the frequency of intrusive thoughts, as well as making them feel less distressing.
  • Engage in constructive distractions. When an intrusive thought arises, finding a constructive distraction is healthier than ruminating on it. Find something that requires almost all of your attention, such as reading, chatting to a friend, going for a run, painting or watching a film.
  • If you find yourself ruminating on negative thoughts, try to replace them with positive ones.


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