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Thoughts are just thoughts – not facts.
I’ve had a busy start to the year, and I’ve had to keep reminding myself to just pause at times and think rationally! We get so worked up over thoughts in our minds and the beliefs behind them, that we often forget that it was just a ‘thought’ and not a fact. When people see me, they are experiencing the emotions associated with thoughts that they don’t actually realize they are having. I try to explain to them the concept of ‘Thoughts are just thoughts – not facts’.
A common thought is one of potential failure of an exam or a task. The emotions often associated with an actual failure are usually shame, sadness and anxiety.
However, many people worry about future failures e.g. What will happen if? The actual thought of potentially failing spins them into a spiral of emotions of anxiety and sadness and despair. These emotions can be as intense as if the actual event really happened (i.e. you are already feeling like a failure even though you haven’t even started the task you are worrying about).
If you can pause and look at the actual thought behind the emotion and realize that it is just a ‘thought’ – which only has power to cause negative emotions if you run with it. It is not a fact – it is not true.
Think about people with low self-esteem. When they think about themselves – they commonly label themselves useless or stupid. This label would result in deep feelings of sadness or shame. However, just because they think they are useless, doesn’t mean they actually are. Try not to interpret your thoughts as facts.
If you were able to identify this thought before you sunk into the emotion, you might be able to rationally remind yourself that ‘Just because you think it doesn’t make it true’. Too often we get lost in our thoughts and accept them as the absolute truth.
Imagine if you could stop and think about the thought rationally – you can stop and soften the emotion felt. Pausing and rationally considering your thought (and telling yourself it is not a fact) allows the overwhelming emotions to soften and become a more appropriate emotion.
Get back control over your mind, rather than your mind controlling you.