One of the most powerful tools you have, and I would argue it is THE most powerful tool, is your brain. In addition to running all of your bodily functions, it is responsible for how you view yourself, others, and the world around you. That is a pretty big job.
What can become problematic, however, is when you accept all of your thoughts as true, especially if you tend to focus on the negative side of situations. For example, let’s assume you texted someone and they did not text you back for a day. You may think something like, “They are mad at me and I don’t know why”, which would create certain emotions which could include anxiety, stress, worry, sadness, or loneliness to name a few. The reality of the situation, however, is that you texted a friend and they did not text you back for a day. That is the circumstance or the facts that everyone would agree on. Your thought that your friend is mad at you and you don’t know why is a thought, not a fact.
When you believe all of your thoughts at face value, you react to them emotionally and with your actions, without considering if there is another way of thinking about a situation. In this example, there could be many reasons why your friend didn't text you back for a day, however, you lose the ability to consider any other option when you accept your thought as a fact. Your thought is one possibility of many, not necessarily reality.
Over time, this acceptance of thoughts without challenging them can result in what is called “thought distortions”. These are faulty thinking patterns that develop over time, and if gone unchallenged, they can become very problematic. This example could fall into a couple of thought distortion patterns. One is “catastrophizing”. This is when you assume the worst-case scenario without having any real evidence to support your assumption. It could also fall into the category of “mind reading” where you think you know what someone else is thinking about you, without any actual evidence to support your thought. To learn more about five common thought distortions, what they are, and to access a step by step process for changing them, you can grab my Guide to Understanding and Changing 5 Common Thought Distortions here.
When you understand this concept and start to challenge your automatic thoughts you will feel more in control of your life. This is because your thoughts impact your feelings, your feelings impact your actions, and your actions impact the results you get in your life. If you are walking around with lots of negative thoughts, you will walk around with negative feelings. If you are walking around with negative feelings, you are more likely to take negative actions that create negative results.
If you want to start to feel more in control of your thoughts, go through the following steps which will help you challenge your negative thoughts, rather than automatically believe them.
You can make your brain work for you when you understand that thoughts create feelings, not circumstances. When you raise your self-awareness to your thinking patterns and how they impact your feelings, you can take control of them, change them if needed, and make them work for you instead of against you. If you want more information about changing problematic thinking patterns, grab my guide that will walk you through how to do this here.
Live your best life!
Karen Vincent Solutions
If you are interested in more information about how to manage unhelpful thinking patterns, you can grab my free 5 Common Thought Distortions Guide HERE.
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