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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