Your thoughts are automatic. They just happen. Thoughts result from your body taking in sensory data (from your eyes, ears, and fingers, for example), information from your past, and complex processes in your body.
Neuroscience tells us that every thought you have causes complex chemical reactions in your body that affect how you feel… both good and bad. For example, close your eyes and think of a time when you truly felt loved and supported. Notice how you feel in your body. Most people feel a warm sense of happiness and physical relaxation.
The opposite is also true. When you have an angry, fearful, hopeless or anxious thought, your brain releases chemicals that may cause you to feel tense, maybe breathe less deeply or get cold hands.
Thoughts are Sneaky
Thoughts are also sneaky. Thoughts lie. A lot. I call this Stinkin’ Thinkin’. It’s these negative, erroneous, and often uninvestigated thoughts that keep us stuck, fuel anger, and unhealthy behaviors like over-eating.
When you believe these damaging, incorrect thoughts, you begin to act as if the lies are true. For example, if you think your husband never listens to you, even though he has many times, you act as if he never does, and you yell or act defensively. If you think you have no self-control over what you eat, you give yourself permission to eat whatever you want whenever you want.
Is It True?
It’s possible to change thoughts, but it’s not easy. You’ve been under the influence of your thoughts for so long that you may not be aware of the tone of your thinking. Even when you begin to notice the connection between your thoughts, feelings and actions, you may not realize or believe you can change them.
When talking with our ten-year-old daughter about a run-in she had with her older brother, she expressed that she feels sad and angry because he “always says” certain things about her. I asked her, “Is it true?” Her answer, of course, was “no.” We went on to talk about how she can then choose to not give credit to what he said. She can choose how she will feel and react in response to what he said.
You can do that with Stinkin’ Thinkin’ too. Asking “Is it true?” can interrupt your thought pattern and may prevent a binge, short circuit anxiety, or some other negative reaction. Whether you’re telling yourself “I can’t find the time to exercise.” Or “I can’t eat healthy because I travel.” Or “I can’t ask for that project, I don’t have enough experience.” Ask yourself, “Is it true?” Is that thought really true? If not, replace that thought with correct information.
One of the most critical steps in becoming healthy or in achieving anything that’s truly important to you, is to get control of your mind. Be mindful. Whenever you’re feeling angry, anxious, obsessive, sad, etc. consider writing down the thoughts that are going through your head. Examine them to see if they make sense and if they’re really true or not.
Learn it. Apply it.
- What thoughts do you have, regularly, that are simply lies that may be keeping you stuck? What is truth?
- In what areas of your life do you have incorrect thoughts or beliefs that are resulting in negative behaviors or affecting performance?
- How can you be more mindful of your thoughts and how they are affecting your feelings and actions?