How thoughts in­flu­ence feel­ings & be­hav­iour

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Me­lanie Schilling

Have you ever found your­self in a sit­u­a­tion where you sab­o­taged your­self by your own thoughts? Ever talked your­self out of try­ing some­thing, as­sum­ing you were doomed to fail­ure? Our in­ter­nal di­a­logue or self-talk is the most pow­er­ful mo­ti­va­tor we have. If our in­ner voice is the voice of a ‘friend’ it can enhance feel­ings of pos­i­tive self-es­teem and pro­pel us to act in a way that will move us to­wards our goals. If, how­ever, our in­ner voice is the voice of a ‘fren­emy’, (a fren­emy is a blend of a friend and an en­emy), it can lead to feel­ings of self­doubt and stop us from tak­ing ac­tion to­wards our goals. Put sim­ply, our thoughts in­flu­ence our feel­ings and our feel­ings in­flu­ence our be­hav­iour, there­fore, our thoughts cre­ate our life ex­pe­ri­ence.

We all have an un­help­ful in­ner voice that rears its ugly head from time to time, but we also have a choice about how we re­spond to it. A dis­em­pow­ered ap­proach would be to be­lieve the neg­a­tive thoughts and

mind­lessly fol­low them, as if on au­topi­lot. A more em­pow­ered ap­proach would be to chal­lenge the thoughts and con­sciously choose to act dif­fer­ently.


1. Re­al­ity checking

• What ev­i­dence is there to sup­port the thoughts?

• Are they based on facts or your in­ter­pre­ta­tions and per­cep­tions?

• Are you jump­ing to neg­a­tive con­clu­sions?

• How can you in­ves­ti­gate and find out if the thoughts are true?

2. Al­ter­na­tive view­points

• What other ways could you look at this sit­u­a­tion?

• What else could this mean?

• If you were be­ing pos­i­tive, how might you per­ceive this sit­u­a­tion?


3. Put it in per­spec­tive

• Is it as bad as you think?

• What is the worst pos­si­ble thing that could hap­pen? How likely is this?

• What is the best pos­si­ble thing that could hap­pen?

• Will this mat­ter in five years’ time?

4. Come back to your goals

• Are th­ese thoughts help­ing you feel bet­ter in the mo­ment (Band-Aid) or help­ing you move to­wards your goals?

• What can you do to solve the prob­lem and move to­wards get­ting what you want?

• What can you learn from this sit­u­a­tion to help you next time?

By us­ing th­ese ques­tions through­out your day, you can be­come your own ‘thought de­tec­tive’. Gather ev­i­dence and chal­lenge your thoughts and if they don’t stack up, change them.


Over the next month, your chal­lenge is to make con­scious choices about your life rather than run­ning on au­topi­lot.

Week 1: Keep a thought jour­nal, ei­ther in a book or in a Mood­kit. Record all the thoughts you can re­call, pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive, help­ful and un­help­ful. The aim is not to judge the thoughts, but to sim­ply record them each day.

Week 2: This week, di­vide your jour­nal into two col­umns and record the help­ful and un­help­ful thoughts in sep­a­rate col­umns.

This will help you to iden­tify the qual­ity and quan­tity of your thoughts and start to eval­u­ate the de­gree to which your ‘fren­emy’ think­ing styles are creep­ing in.

Week 3: Now that you are be­com­ing more aware of your think­ing pat­terns, it’s time to start chal­leng­ing them. This time, di­vide your jour­nal into three col­umns; one for help­ful thoughts, one for un­help­ful thoughts and one for chal­leng­ing ques­tions. Use the third col­umn to jot down ques­tions to chal­lenge the ‘fren­emy’ thoughts – your ques­tions can re­late to re­al­ity checking, al­ter­na­tive view­points, putting it in per­spec­tive and com­ing back to your goals.

Week 4: In your fi­nal week of the chal­lenge, your ob­jec­tive is to re­frame any ‘fren­emy’ thoughts. Go­ing back to a two-col­umn page, this time record your ‘fren­emy’ thoughts in one col­umn and the new, re­framed thoughts in the other.

So, take the chal­lenge, step up and re­frame your self-talk to cre­ate a friend rather than a ‘fren­emy’ within ... and watch your life change as a re­sult!.

Me­lanie Schilling is a psy­chol­o­gist and dat­ing coach, reg­u­larly con­tribut­ing to Chan­nel 10, Chan­nel 9, print and on­line pub­li­ca­tions. In 2014, Me­lanie was ap­pointed Dat­ing and Re­la­tion­ship Ex­pert for eHar­mony, Aus­tralia and has worked across the Asia-Pa­cific and Mid­dle Eastern Re­gions. Me­lanie may be con­tacted via her web­site.

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