Perspective is Everything! Thoughts are Powerful! Are they Helping You?
Proverbs 23:7 says As someone thinks within himself, so he is.
Lao Tzu said, “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
Muhammad Ali said, “What you’re thinking is what you’re becoming.”
And Seneca said, “We are often more frightened than hurt, and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.”
When going through something difficult, we tend to notice how we feel before recognizing what we think. We may even have a sense that the feeling is generating our thoughts and actions. However, the reality and the position of Aaron T Beck’s CBT (Cognitive-Behavior Therapy) are that the thoughts take priority as the seed to the feeling and behavior. Our perception and the way that we think about the situation are powerful. Of course, how we feel and our actions are essential as well, but if you want to change the feelings and actions, change the thoughts.
Similarly, and to Lao Tzu’s point that …your thoughts become words…, it is essential to be careful what you say about the situation, about yourself, about others, and life.
Proverbs 15:4 says, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
How powerful can our words be too?
When you speak about yourself, are you guiding yourself towards flourishing or discouragement?
When I was in college, most people around me were smarter than be by formal testing standards. For the first couple of years, not only did I lack a vision/a goal of what I wanted to accomplish, but I felt inferior. That is what I noticed first. But, when I took a closer look, I realized I believed “I am not good enough to succeed. Guess what? My actions and grades reflected that.
Many things happened, and I certainly struggled with doubt and discouragement. After a while, though, Is started to fill my mind with positive messages, truth, and encouragement.
I started to focus on my strengths, what I did well, and people who loved and believed in me. I began to feel more confident. But, more importantly, I started to believe, “Even if I’m not the smarted person in the room, I can do my best with what I have.” Guess what? I gained clarity, actions aligned with values (studying, nutrition, overall lifestyle), and I GRADUATED.
That was an example of CBT in motion.
Don’t think or speak of yourself in terms of “loser,” “stupid,” “failure,” “worthless.”
Nelson Mandela said. “I never lose. I either win or learn”. Think about that. What if you said: “I am a learner,” “I am intelligence in this area, and I need more education here,” “I am highly loved and valued.” What impact does that have on the associated feelings and the direction your rudder is steering? It is different, isn’t it?
If you have created the habit of thinking and speaking to yourself in a discouraging manner, it may be hard to foster encouraging dialogue. If so, try this: Imagine someone you love and care about; maybe it’s a sister, a niece, a best friend, a stranger- If they were in the situation you are in and came to you with the problem, how would you talk to them? You may say something like, “I am sure you’re doing the best you can.”, “You did well with this…”, “Keep your head up, you can do better next time.” You know, what would you say? Practicing this may help to encourage you towards your goal.
In difficult, potentially traumatic experiences, it is not always about what happens to us (the situation), but it is about how we internalize that experience (thoughts and beliefs). It is about the thoughts, perceptions, images, attitudes, and beliefs we develop in that instance, and over time- about ourselves, others, and the world. Sometimes, those beliefs are negative and unhelpful. You will benefit from addressing these. For instance, if you go through a dramatic change in the family dynamic, you may internalize a negative core belief. Dramatic changes could include divorce, death, illness, addiction, fight, new sibling, adoption, or a move. You may internalize such events as “I am a terrible kid,” “This is somehow my fault,” “I am not loved,” “I am not valued,” “I am not good enough.” Having negative thoughts like these is a normal process. However, it is also a cognitive distortion or an error in our thinking. This is an opportunity for Reconstruction. These thoughts are negative and unhelpful.
These thoughts, if they grow unchallenged, can become negative core beliefs. , it is going to negatively impact the way that we feel and act in situations. So, it is essential to develop an awareness of the “seeds in the garden of your mind.” A collaborative and benevolent relationship can best address Cognitive Reconstruction. With such a relationship, you can develop awareness and challenge the thoughts. It is kind of like excavating and transplanting. You take a thought that is [Negative, unhelpful, inaccurate, and worst-case], and you convert it into a thought that is [Positive, helpful, accurate, and best-case]. If nothing else, this can help to have a full perspective.
This may sound like, “I am a great kid!” “My parents’ divorce had a lot to do with their relationship, and, even though I feel sad about their separation, it is not my responsibility,” “I am loved,” “I am valued,” “I am good enough.” This thinking also opens up the opportunity to have a positive attitude, like, “And I will make the best out of this situation.”
When you think about the negative aspects of the situation or yourself, that is okay, that is normal. But, don’t stop there. Train your mind to see the full spectrum. Sometimes the worst experiences are great teaching experiences and catalysts for success. Consider what strengths you utilized in those experiences, the skills that you developed, and how the experience benefited you, making you better or stronger.
The way that we think is very important. Our thoughts influence how we feel. Our thoughts and feelings impact the way we act. We can change and choose how we think in a way that is positive, helpful, accurate, and includes “the best-case scenario.” Once you gain that perspective, you can make them habits and routines through a process of positive affirmations.
Reconstruct your core beliefs, choose the positive, accurate, and helpful perspective, and let them be “Adopted Daily”!