Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life
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Do you feel depressed? Do you feel you will never be happy? Do you feel like everything in your life is negative? If so, you may have a pessimistic view of life, and this pessimism may be preventing you from being happy and may make you depressed. What we think affects how we feel, and how we feel affects how we think. Cognitive behavioral therapy shows how our thinking and feeling interact, where a feeling can suddenly appear without our control, but we are the ones who can be in control of our thinking. Changing the way we think about a situation can affect our mood which also affects our behavior, and when we control our thinking there is better potential to feel better and act in a more productive way.
How To Control Your Thoughts
Controlling our thinking means identifying our thoughts, evaluating the reality of the thought and then using thought replacement techniques to be able to act or behave in a more positive manner.
1. Identify your real current feelings.
Try to determine what is making you feel helpless, angry, sad, etc. Try to be specific about your feelings. Many people use the word “angry” when they really are feeling frustrated, disappointed, agitated or other more specific words for the feeling, so knowing what you are really feeling can help you to change your thoughts related to the feeling. Use a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being extremely upset, determine where you should actually be at on the scale. For example, a doctor running 10 minutes late might be a 1 on the scale, where someone stealing from you might be more of an 8 or 9 in terms of upsetness. Knowing what you are actually feeling and knowing what an appropriate emotional response should be can help you to change your thinking. For example: Let’s say you went to the doctor’s office and the doctor was 15 minutes late. You become very angry and actually snap at the doctor when it is your turn. On a scale of 1 to 10 the feeling should have been very manageable, more like a slight agitation. If you had been aware that the feeling was at a “1’ you could have used self talk to determine that over reacting would not be necessary.
2. Identify any long term issues.
Sometimes there are underlying issues or feelings that get in the way of enjoying your life. Maybe there was a lot of emotional pain in the past, and maybe there are scars from physical or sexual traumas. There can also be long term resentment simmering beneath the surface. Therefore, if you are able to identify real and underlying issues, you can begin to resolve them. When you work on underlying issues, it can change your current thinking and perceptions, which can help you to manage your feelings.
3. Focus on the here and now
When any painful situation occurs, know that it is a current situation and not a reflection of past issues. Each situation you encounter is new and unique. Fixating on the past stops you from experiencing the present and can have a negative impact of your future. If you bring your past into the present, it can negatively impact your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. If you can live in the moment, it can help maintain balance in your life.
4. Take care of you
When you take care of your body, you are also taking care of your emotions and thinking. When you eat right, exercise and sleep well, you can more effectively manage your feelings and thinking. When you are tired, you may be more irrational or easily agitated. Your thinking and judgment may be compromised. Same is true with not eating well. Your body can not function correctly when it is deprived of nutrition. When you are hungry you may not see things correctly and may not respond to the situations in the most appropriate manner. When you exercise, you release neurotransmitters in your brain that make you feel good. When you are physically and emotionally well, you can see the worked in an optimistic way. This will change your thinking and outlook on life.
These steps can help you change how you think. When you change how you think, it can change how you feel, thus change your behavior or the outcome of a situation. When you think about a situation or experience as negative, it can evoke a negative feeling, this in turn evokes negative thought, which then evokes negative behavior. The key is to change your thinking to have happiness in your life.
- Kim B.