Just Changing Our Thoughts Can Influence Our Emotions And Behaviors
When we are young, we often have a vision of how our life could be or should be. But unexpected life events can often derail us and make it seem like there are some dreams that cannot be or that may take us much more time to come to fruition.
Through these unexpected life events, we learn that they are other plans for us in our life’s journey. It does not matter whether they occur by fate or some divine intervention. Maybe it is for the growth of our soul or maybe we are just an actor in larger series of events in the universe.
Opportunities That Therapy Can Bring Offer Us
Therapy gives us a unique opportunity to explore and process the depths of our thoughts and feelings about these issues.
Sometimes these discussion are philosophic in nature and we draw from various schools of thought. For example, Stoic philosophy argues that: Your thoughts and beliefs create the world you inhabit, not external circumstances, so you ought to take responsibility for your mind. They called this the “art of acquiescence;” the giving up and assenting of whatever things are so that they can be what they are to become.
Many people do not know that Stoic philosophy was the original philosophical inspiration for modern cognitive psychotherapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is based on the idea that how we think (cognition) and how we behave are interconnected. Stoicism’s emphasis on personal virtue ethics and the practice of virtue as necessary for achieving happiness has influenced CBT’s focus on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors to improve mental health.
Stoic philosophy believes that the mind functions as an intermediary between our perceptions and actions and that a wise mind can navigate this relationship well. In therapy sessions, we have an opportunity to explore our thoughts and their relation to our feelings and behaviors.
Research on Positive Thinking
Interestingly, research suggests that positive thinking can have a significant impact on behavior. Studies have shown that people with a positive outlook are less likely to have heart attacks or other cardiovascular events. Positive thinking can also help with stress management and improve overall health. Additionally, CBT therapy skill building exercises include replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, which has been shown to reduce pathological worry and anxiety. Did you know that in the average individual, negative thoughts tend to outnumber positive thoughts? This is not to say that we should replace all of our negative thoughts with positive ones. Having negative thoughts can be helpful to us in order to protect us in some way. And it is sometimes the case that a so called positive thought can have a detrimental impact on your life. We sometimes see this when a person is experiencing a stressful life event that they don’ t want to, or feel they cannot deal with.
Are Negative Thoughts Serving You?
The question we often ask in therapy is “is this negative or positive thought serving you now?” In addition, we often ask, will changing these thoughts help us to cope or change our lives for the better? If we decide to change our thoughts, research has taught us that it is possible, through therapy skill building, to reduce some unhelpful thoughts and replace them with more helpful thoughts that can better drive our feelings and behaviors.
There Comes A Point In Time When Thinking Is Not Enough; You Must Take Action
If this article has sparked an interest in you about seeking therapy-lets have a conversation to see if therapy with us is a good fit for you. Schedule a free consultation.
Beck, J. S. (2011). Cognitive behavior therapy: Basics and beyond. Guilford Press.
Carver, C. S., Scheier, M. F., & Segerstrom, S. C. (2010). Optimism. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 879-889.
Scheier, M. F., & Carver, C. S. (2018). Optimism, coping, and health: Assessment and implications of generalized outcome expectancies. Health Psychology, 37(5), 495-497.
Daily Stoic Emails: There Are Dreams That Cannot Be