You will learn today how to replace these lamentable thoughts, which have doubtless tormented you for a long time, with much better ones. I feel excited and eager to share this psychological health tool with you because it is very liberating and empowering.
The tool that I like to use with my clients for this purpose is more or less based on a CBT technique from Katie Byron called Thought Mediation. The goal is to slow down and examine a painful thought by applying four simple questions.
To realize that your thought is just a story you’re telling yourself, to realize the impact that story has on your life, and to find a story that’s just as valid and will serve you better. From a reactive thinker you will become a proactive thinker, from a position of victimization you will pass to a position of valorization.
Our emotions often follow our thinking. I can’t easily target emotions when working with clients, but I can show them how to change their thought process, and as a result, more positive emotions will follow. In summary, bad thought habits lead to psychological transformation health issues that can play a key role in reversing them.
Alright, let’s get started.
Choose your most painful thought.
Pull out your list and identify your most painful thought. Look for a story related to great emotional discomfort, such as “I’m flawed and unlovable, no one will ever want to be with me”, or “I’m a useless loser, I don’t deserve to be a father”. Often the most painful thoughts will relate to stories about not being OK, not being good enough, or being worthless.
Write down your painful design on a piece of paper and then ask yourself the following questions.
Can you absolutely know that this thought is true?
Can you absolutely know that your thought is true, that you are flawed and unlovable, or can you absolutely know that you are a useless loser not deserving of being a father, or is there a chance are you wrong?
You may have difficulty answering this question at first. You may not be sure, and your brain may insist that your story is absolutely true. However, upon reflection, a faint voice may arise, suggesting that your destructive belief may be wrong.
Just because you have an idea that does not mean it’s true. Your brain doesn’t come up with the truth, it just comes up with a random array of stories.
What happens when you believe this thought?
When you believe this thought, does it bring you peace or stress? What physical sensations and mental images is accompanied by it? What do you feel? How do you treat yourself and others through family therapy near me?
This step will allow you to understand the total impact that this toxic thought has on your general well-being. Your painful thought is surely causing stress, muscle tension, painful mental images, and it will negatively impact the way you relate to yourself and others.
Who would you be without this thought?
Take stock for a moment, who would you be without this toxic belief? How would you feel about yourself? What kinds of thoughts and feelings would you have? How would you feel about yourself and the world?
You would undoubtedly feel much lighter and more joyful. You would feel like a ton of bricks have just been pulled from your shoulders.
Flip the thought and find another equally valid and more helpful thought.
It’s my favorite part. You are now invited to be a player and find a thought as valid, if not more, allowing you to have a more positive emotional experience. You now know that just because you have a thought does not mean that it is true and that you have the right to choose another that works better for you.
For example, you can flip the original belief 180 degrees. You might say to yourself, “I am whole and lovable, and I will do everything I can to have a meaningful relationship in my life” or “I’ve made mistakes but that doesn’t make me a failure. I will choose to learn from my mistakes, and I will do my best to be a good father now”. These new stories are close to being the opposite of the original toxic ones. They are also true, if not truer, and will be accompanied by much more pleasant emotions related to them.
Or could you replace your original toxic belief with a totally new thought such as “I’m done wasting my time criticizing myself, from now on I’m going to protect myself and choose more encouraging thoughts”. There is an unlimited amount of equally valid and more useful thoughts to choose from, the possibilities are endless.
The next time your old painful thought arises. It will no longer have the power to hold you hostage since you will be ready with new replacement thoughts. And every time you trade toxic belief for productive thought, your psychological health will thank you. Now you know how to support your thought process and increase your overall well-being by choosing good stories.