On average, we have 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day and if you are anything like me and have a constantly racing mind, you’re probably pushing 100,000 thoughts daily. That’s A LOT of things to believe, especially if your thoughts are less than positive. It’s important to know that it’s our brain’s job to think thoughts but it’s our job, as the thinker of the thoughts, to decide which thoughts we want to keep and which thoughts we want to discard.
The majority of our thoughts are repeated- meaning that the thoughts we have today, are the same thoughts we had yesterday and the same the day before that. Overtime as these thoughts get repeated, they become “wired and fired” in our brain, deeply engrained and part of our belief system. This is why it can sometimes feel so challenging to free yourself from negative thinking because these thoughts have been accepted as fact in your mind after running around and around on replay. Our thoughts and beliefs impact the actions we take which ultimately reinforces the original thought or belief and this is how we get stuck in automatic negative thinking.
Using the CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) model of thinking, we can begin to understand our thoughts, behaviors and feelings, which means we are not stuck on our negative programming. If you can learn to stop negative thoughts, you can take back control of your mind, care for yourself more effectively and become more resilient through life’s challenges.
The essence of CBT is that what you think you feel and what you feel you do. If you can learn to control your thoughts, you can manage your feelings, which ultimately changes your behavior. In order to do this, you need to be able to look at your thoughts objectively. For example, if the thought is “ I can never do anything right” after a write up at work, it would be helpful to look at the evidence for or against this thought and ask yourself, “Is this really true? In your entire work history, have you never done anything right?” Once you’ve looked at the objective evidence to support whether this thought is true or not, the goal would be to come up with more balanced, neutral or positive thought. For example, “This is a learning experience and I am doing the best I can. I am going to work through this just like I always do.” Keeping a thought record, like the one I have shared below can be a powerful to view your thoughts and beliefs on a logical level, rather than personalizing them and getting stuck in a negative downward spiral.
For more information on how to reframe thinking, check out the most recent episode of the Aligned Life Podcast where I walk you through how to combat negative thoughts, how to name your emotions, explore your top thinking errors and how to live a more positive life. Working with a behavior coach or therapist like myself can be a helpful support if you’re looking to free yourself from negative thinking once and for all and take back control of your life. If you have any questions or would like to set up one on one consultation, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
**CBT triangle image curtesy of pacificcognitivebehavioraltherapy.com