A Good Tip for Negative Thoughts

 Because we feel the most secure when we are safe, our brain is designed to look for danger. This was great when we lived on the plains and every day was a matter of survival; today, we live with a negative bias, which can lead to an automatic lean into negative thoughts. In the book “The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living” by Russ Harris, he writes:

“Whether a thought is true is not that important. Far more important is whether it’s helpful. Truthful or not, thoughts are nothing more than words. If they’re helpful words, then it’s worth paying attention to them. If they’re not helpful, then why bother?”

This stood out to me as an important tip when trying to deal with an automatic thought that is taking up too much energy and space within us. When we lean into guilty thoughts that have no merit,  thoughts of self-blame, insecure thoughts tied to core beliefs or worries that we have no control over, we help to feed the loop often generated by negative thought. Our brain is ‘searching’ for a way to solve the danger that the negative thought implies. Harris notes that by asking ourselves “Is this thought helpful?” we begin to question the validity of the thought, relying more on fact and less on perception.

If we find ourselves ruminating or leaning into an automatic thought, we can begin to ask ourselves “Is this thought helpful?” And if it isn’t, we can move towards a thought or action that better promotes the mindset we wish to create.

Tomorrow’s post will look at another good tip from Russ Harris about action.

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A Thought from Oprah

I often listen to Oprah’s podcasts and one of the things I have heard her say that resonates with me is:

“We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”  – Oprah Winfrey

When we are caught up in the busy activities of daily life; when our feet hit the ground running and we don’t take time to pause, spirituality gets set aside. If we spend a lot of time in a negative head space, or get caught up in the drama of others, we may not be connected with the spiritual side of ourselves.

But when we pause, when we find the time to be silent, we find the center of ourselves. It is in absolute stillness that we are able to feel the connectedness of the universe, the peace that comes from feeling settled in knowing that our soul is the foundation of everything that brings us value.

Every time we do an act of kindness, speak nicely to ourselves or others, live to our value system, encourage and praise our loved ones and forgive those who have hurt us, we are in a state of spiritual being. When we focus and feel grateful for our blessings, we are in a state of spiritual being. We when take the time to be silent, to be in a reflective state, we are connected to our soul.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience. When we understand this, we are free to begin living it.

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Another Tidbit by Dr. Eger

Yesterday’s post featured an excellent book by Dr. Edith Eva Eger entitled “The Choice.” She talks at one point about deriving her own approach to therapy and I quote:

“If I had to name my therapy I’d probably call it Choice Therapy, as freedom is about CHOICE – about choosing compassion, humour, optimism, intuition, curiosity and self-expression. And to be free is to live in the present. It we are stuck in the past, saying, “If only I had gone there instead of here…..” or “If only I had married someone else…,” we are living in a prison of our own making. Likewise, if we spend our time in the future saying, “I won’t be happy until I graduate…” or “I won’t be happy until I find the right person.” The only place where we can exercise our freedom of choice is the present.”

I like the concepts she proposes in her anagram, as well as the overall theme that we have the choice as to how to approach the challenges in our lives. There are times when we must reach for our compassion (including to ourselves) or see the humour in the situation. We can choose to feed the negative thoughts, or choose to find the silver lining. Our gut only helps us if we listen to it – and if you read this blog regularly, you know how important I think being curious is! 🙂 And finally, finding our voice. Our telling of our story and the freedom we find in sharing it.

Some excellent thoughts to ponder from Dr. Eger – thank you for your lived wisdom.

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A Thought From Dr. Phil

If you listen to Dr. Phil at all, you will often hear him say “We create our own experience.”

On the one hand, this refers to the active decisions we make in our daily life. It aligns with the goals we have, how we want to proceed, move forward, and purposefully ‘design’ our lives so that we feel fulfilled at the end of the day. But it also includes our reaction to challenge and hardship. Those are the things we don’t always have control over.

None of us expected 2020 and the pandemic that would quickly halt society. Sometimes we are blindsided by a break up, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job. We can’t get through life without some struggle; without disappointment. We create our own experience through our reaction to events. This is where the choice is still ours. We are much better served to feel what we need to feel and lean into the process of what is happening so as to move towards acceptance.  We stand at the crossroads of process or avoidance. We stand at the crossroads of giving up or pulling up our boot straps. We stand at the crossroads of staying stuck or deciding to heal.

“We create our own experience;” a valuable thought from Dr. Phil.

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