by Thomas A. Richards, Ph.D., Psychologist
We spend hours and hours dwelling and ruminating on the negative and fearful things in our lives. We worry about what could go wrong, instead of focusing and paying attention to the rational, the positive and the good.
We should train ourselves to focus on thoughts that will move us forward in the right direction. Read one of the following statements to yourself every day - and dwell on it. It's time we started paying attention to what is rational and correct.
If you only pay attention to darkness, you will never find the light.
If you study and relive your past experiences, analyzing them, and "getting in touch with your feelings," you will only reinforce those feelings. If you want to get away from a problem, you should not focus on it. Focus on what is rational, the positive, the beautiful, and the nice.
A content person is fully caught up in the moment,and is not thinking about the past or the future.
Too much thinking and analyzing just makes your problems worse. Today is a wonderful day – live in the present.
Why do little children think ghosts, goblins, and monsters are real? We know they aren’t.
Your thoughts aren’t "real" either. A thought is just that - a thought. It has no emotional content attached to it. Observe and then dismiss the thought. Don't onto it and give it meaning.
A thought has NO meaning in and of itself. You are the one who adds meaning to it.
You "create" and reinforce the thoughts you focus on - and the emotions that go along with them. Your thoughts are what you come to believe.
Instead of adding negative emotions to your thoughts, try observing them without judgment. Thoughts have no power by themselves. It’s only when you assign an emotional value to them that they develop power.
For example, let's say you are sitting alone in the dark, in your home. You are down, depressed and thinking gloomy thoughts. All of a sudden the phone rings and it’s a friend you haven’t talked to in years. When this happens, you become alert, your mood picks up, and you have a nice conversation with them.
Then, after you’ve hung up, you get blue again and fall back into a depressed mood. Why is that?
Here's a suggestion: Even though we don’t feel like it – we have more power over our thoughts than we think. We can decide to stay "up" after the phone call by doing proactive things - whatever it takes to keep from slipping back into the quicksand of rumination and worry.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, when done appropriately, gives us the tools and strategies to overcome anxiety and depression – and eventually to stay or "be" that way for good.
If your thoughts begin to change, you will feel better.
If you act rationally despite how you are feeling, your beliefs and emotions will follow behind.
- There is so much in life I can’t control. But despite outside circumstaces, I DECIDE to be happy. I can choose to be happy regardless of other circumstances. It’s not "when I get a promotion, I’ll be happy..." or "when I can speak in front of a small group of people, I’ll be happy..." - we must choose to be happy now.
- The focus should be on learning to be happy now. Tap into your peace and contentment.
- Happiness is a result of a decision to be happy.
- Your emotions and feelings are created by your thoughts, and you create your thoughts by what you focus on.
Unhappiness cannot exist on its own. It occurs because of thoughts.
Your past thoughts are about events that are no longer real. That bad experience happened yesterday, (in the past) and is over. It is gone and exists solely in your brain now.
Today is a new day, a better day, and worrying about the past just dooms us to have a depression-filled present. It’s how we process it now that makes a difference.
You are a thought-producing machine. When you realize this, you can begin to slow your thoughts down and allow your anxieties and fears to rest.
Your automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) are only thoughts: they are not real. Observe them without juding them. Don’t accept these thoughts as yours and assign them a negative value, like saying "these thoughts are so horrible! I hate them!"
Our tendency is to think TOO MUCH and to paralyze ourselves with our ruminations. We have a choice: Realize what we're doing to ourselves, get up, find a distraction, and do something interesting (positive).
- Happy people understand that to enjoy life you must "live" it - you don’t just "think" about it.
Watch a roomful of preschool children. They are enjoying life because they are focused on the moment and are not thinking or judging it. They are immersed and absorbed in living.
- Analysis creates paralysis.
Is anticipatory anxiety killing you? Stop thinking about it, take that step, and do it.
Thoughts grow with attention. If you focus on negative thoughts, they will grow and become larger. If you focus on your progress and the new thoughts you are learning, they will grow automatically and take control.
Even if you understand and know why you have a problem, this will not help you to solve it. Going over again and again the reasons for your problem is like pouring salt in an open wound.
The only factor making you unhappy is your own thoughts. Relax, release them, and let them go.
When you notice self-limiting and self-defeating thoughts playing over and over in your mind, say "STOP! I will not give you any more power over me! I have better things to do!!"
And then gently move on with your day, forgetting about these thoughts forever.