What Are You Thinking?
As a counselor, one of the most common things I talk with people about and try to help them change is the way they think. The way we think directly affects the way we feel. For instance, if you commonly have anxious thoughts, such as “I’m going to fail this test,” or “I hope I don’t get chewed out by my boss today,” you are likely to feel anxious as a result of those thoughts. Thoughts such as “I am such a loser,” or “I can never do anything right,” often lead people to feeling depressed. Often, we just outright accept all of our thoughts as truth without ever considering other possibilities, which can have a very negative effect on our mood.
For instance, if you find yourself having thoughts that are getting you down, ask yourself a few questions to try to gain some perspective. Ask yourself: “Is this thought true?”, “Is this thought helpful?” and “What’s the evidence for or against this thought?”
We often get stuck in certain ways of thinking that can cause us a lot of distress. For example, the people who have thoughts like, “I can never do anything right,” or “Nobody cares about me,” could benefit from examining those questions listed above. They probably won’t have to think long before realizing there are plenty of things they have done right and that other people do love them. The problem with not asking these questions and examining the evidence is that without any further thought, those negative thoughts are automatically accepted as truth by us. Some people find it helpful to rephrase negative thoughts when they appear. For instance, if they think “I’m a loser,” they rephrase that more accurately to, “I’m having the thought that I’m a loser.” It may seem like a small difference, but it can have a huge impact on how you feel. It makes the thought more objective and less personal, which means you’re less likely to personally identify with it.
Some thoughts just pop into our heads and we have no control over them, but we do have control over what to do with them after that. We can either believe them outright and let them govern how we feel or we can challenge the degree of truth in our thoughts and gain some better perspective. And through it all, we should remember that we are loved by an Almighty God. If we sought after His truth each day instead of our own, we might truly be changed.
Yours in Christ,