Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Counselors and Therapists in Tucson, AZ
Do Your Thoughts Run Your Life?
My father used to tell the story of a man driving down a not very well maintained side road in the country. After running over a sharp rock, he sustained a flat tire. He remembered passing a tiny gas station about 10 miles back. He started walking on this hot day and his mind took off.
“I’m so lucky it was a gas station I passed! The attendant will give me a ride back to my car and help me fix the flat.”
“At the very least, I’m sure this guy will let me borrow his jack and maybe give me a ride back.”
“Why would he let a stranger borrow his jack?”
“Well, of course he will…that’s his job.”
“What if he won’t give me a ride?”
This same type of self-talk continued. By the time he got to the gas station, he walked in and angrily said, “You can take your damn jack!” and … well you know the rest.
That might be a little extreme, however, we do talk to ourselves and not always in a loving way, all day long. We can look at someone and decide what they are thinking or feeling without saying a word. Basically, we make up stories all the time and we believe them! Then we proceed through life believing whatever it was we made up and accept it as the truth with no factual basis.
“Worrying is using your imagination to create something you don’t want.” (Abraham Hicks)
Humans are creatures of habit. We have a tendency to follow the picture in our mind that was created by our parents, friends, and what we have been exposed to. Doesn’t matter – good or bad. The good news is, we each have our own mind that is capable of imagining our life the way we want it. One way to make the most of that power is to:
Create a picture of the life you want and think about it often. Believe in it; Feel it; Journal about it. Be confident that you can make the picture in your mind come true. You may soon find yourself making different, more positive choices in your life. Just start taking small steps in a better direction.
Feels daunting…! And then there’s the “yeah but” excuses…yeah but I’m too busy. yeah but I’m too anxious to focus. yeah but I can’t do that. yeah but (fill in the blank). It can be overwhelming when everything in your life feels negative…”I hate my job, supervisor, house, spouse/partner, my body, etc.” That’s where the small steps come in.
There are some small ways to work towards changing the negative self-talk:
- Focus on paying attention to your thoughts and words.. Of course, give yourself some time to “get better” at “catching yourself.”
- Challenge the thought…challenging irrational/negative thoughts can help to change them.
- Ask yourself: Is there substantial evidence for the thought? Is there evidence contradictory to the thought? What would a friend say about it?
- If the situation is looked at positively, how is it different? Will it matter in a year?
It can be helpful to seek assistance whether it is journaling, meditating, reading, talking to a family member or friend and working with a counselor. Although one may feel anxious about talking to a stranger/counselor, it can sometimes be easier to talk to a stranger! And it can help having that extra support from someone with no stake in your outcome.
It really is possible to change the flow of your life by recognizing and changing your thoughts!