People greatly underestimate the power of thoughts. More than anything else in our lives, our thinking holds the most promise for a greater future. Of course, it can be our biggest detriment.
Pia Mellody believes that all our feelings come from our thoughts. Rick Hanson says that because our limbic brain is always on guard, our brains notice and hold on to negative thoughts in a (mostly) outdated alarm for Stone-Age survivor.
He recommends that we really savor a positive experience by being aware of all of it. Then we ramp up all our sensations of it, live in it, and do this for 30 seconds a day. He writes that the repeated exercise will train our brains to hold onto positive thoughts.
The classic, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,” explains an exercise that never fails. In my Self-Esteem workshops I ask a volunteer to hold their arms up and sideways from the body. I tell them, “don't let me push your arms down,” and they don't, no matter how hard I try.
Then I ask them to repeat internally, “I'm a loser. I'm nothing” 10 times and really get into it. When they raise their arms again, I can push them down easily no matter what they do.
Then I ask them to repeat internally, “I am worthy. I have value, no matter what.” What happens? You guessed it. I can't move their arms!
The power of thoughts in action.
Altering our thoughts in any situation has the power to change our experienced reality of that situation. If we are quick to interpret a partner or friends silence as, “they are uncomfortable with me” or, “they are not interested in me” then our esteem and the relationship will be altered.
Stop the unhelpful thoughts. Watch the story you tell yourself about daily interactions.
Relationships, and life. Be sure these are helping you, not hurting you.
Lisa Merlo Booth and Wendy Allen
Wendy Allen, Ph.D, MFT is an expert in couples and marriage therapy. She has been practicing in Santa Barbara for almost 30 years. She is the only Marriage therapist in the tri-counties using the Real Relational Living model, from which all of these ideas are based upon.