Have Happy Thoughts
Photo credit: Bruce Mars Pexels.com
Let’s get real simple here. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or CBT is based on the notion that your thoughts and feelings are related to the actions you choose. These thoughts and feelings ultimately may lead to mental health problems if you see things in an irrational or unstable perspective. The notion that you might be seeing yourself, the world and other people’s actions in such ways as irrational or twisted might make you question your interpretation of events and situations. That is exactly what I am challenging you on. Try to look at your interpretation of events from an objective (non-emotional) perspective. The challenge for you is to have happy thoughts. How do you do that? Keep reading…
Twisted Thinking Takes a Toll on Everyone
Being a “brain-changer” challenges you too look at the way you think. When you are recovering from stress, depression, anxiety or other mental health problems, you are essentially working on your overall emotional well-being. By being a “brain-changer” I am offering you a simple way to understand or challenge your own thoughts. In turn, this self-awareness will lead you down a more productive, effective and successful path.
You are not alone in the sense that almost every person falls into destructive, stinking or twisted thinking at times. Sometimes it arrives suddenly. Perhaps you do not challenge it. Twisted thinking can eat away at your self-esteem, invite anxiety into your life or allow depression to creep in.
Body Image and Shaming as an Example of Twisted Thinking
Let’s talk about body image and what that has to do with twisted thinking. Not only do women suffer from body image issues but men do too. This topic is not often talked about, but men are playing against the Hollywood action-hero types or questioning if their penis size is big enough. Men also might suffer with an exaggerated emphasis on hairline, acne or their new “Dad-Bod”. Nonetheless anxiety plays into this type of distorted thinking and when energy and attention is focused on these types of body image-related issues, one can seriously start to engage in depressive or shameful thinking.
As a result someone might develop an eating disorder, a physical-workout training obsession, or suicidal ideations. Picture this realistic scenario: Male age 14- looks in the mirror and sees an acne-covered face. Age 15- starts training at the gym with weights. Age 19-has a sculpted and fit physique. Age 20- gives up sugar and processed carbohydrates. Age 21- feels depressed but in incredible shape; attempts first suicide due to isolation, withdrawal and having overwhelming and twisting thinking patterns about self.
Distorted thinking can present itself even in someone who seemingly looks healthy. Ideas about body-image might sound like, “If I could only look like that.” This type of negative thought might lead to the series of events described above. More than that, he might think, “No one likes me; I don’t even like myself, so why even be here on this Earth then?”
The Beautiful Truth- What To Work On
The truth is, what matters is below the surface. Hairline, “Dad-Bod”, physique, acne-NONE OF IT MATTERS. What matters is the smile across your face that shows happiness and confidence. What matters is the great sense of humor or an energizing personality. That kind of work happens inside and for some it can be harder than developing the close-to-perfect physique on the outside. That is the type of challenge we are talking about when it comes to being a “brain-changer”.
The other truth is that there are millions of people out in the world who are attracted to different types of people. There is someone out there for everyone. The saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is a lovely statement in the sense that each person has a set of interests and ideals that attract them to someone- and that someone might be you. Don’t underestimate your positive traits and the fact that someone might be super-turned on by your values, attributes and personality. (If you choose to get healthier to live a quality-driven life, go for it. What this article is about is your thoughts.)
Confidence Is Built in the Brain
Confidence is a real identifying trait that is the ultimate winner. Taking time to work on self and exuding confidence is one way others may come to desire you. There is an inarguable glow that comes from people who are certain of themselves. If someone walks in the room who is smiling, standing upright and has eye contact with you, you are typically more drawn to that person based on their body language alone. If you are withdrawn, having closed-off body languages, with a grimace or frown on your face, do you think others will think you are approachable? Your confidence-level can be more powerful and more recognizable than your physical traits.
Don’t forget, we are all flawed-to an extent. Therefore, let’s give each other approval in the sense that no one out there is better than you, because guess what? They are flawed too. When you can look at yourself and accept your flaws then make the choice to start working on them, you are on your way to a better version of yourself.
“If you can learn to love yourself and all the flaws, you can love other people so much better. And that makes you so happy.” –Kristin Chenoweth.
Take these steps to be kind to you! Take the steps below as modeled from CBT. If you still think you need help, contact a counselor to get to the root of the problem. Also, balance in life is essential. Balance in your life can be the difference between having an unhealthy obsession and keeping up with a health lifestyle choice. Moderating your workouts is a healthy lifestyle choice. Moderating food choices is another healthy lifestyle choice. Moderation is key.
Be a “Brain-Changer”-Catch, Check, Change It
Using the CBT Model
Situation: You look in the mirror and you see a skinny (or obese) physique.
Catch It- Negative Thought or a Common Response from Someone Who is Depressed: “I look disgusting. People don’t like me and it’s because it is the way I look.”
Emotions: sad, low, rejected
Actions: Isolate, withdraw, and continue to think negative thoughts about image
This can lead to negative, cyclical thinking and it can turn into depression or suicidal ideations. The more depressed you get, the harder it is to fight off twisted thought patterns.
Check It- Stop and Think about What You Are Thinking; Argument: “Is it really true? Do you have evidence to back it up? Would others interpret it the same way you are interpreting it? This is the hardest part of the CBT model because those with depressive thinking have a difficult time seeing his/her own thoughts objectively. If you need help, hire a therapist to aid you in your CBT journey. They can verbalize things from a different perspective-which is what you might need to hear.
Change It–Substitute or Reframe the Negative Thought: Think about a more realistic take on the situation. Substitute a negative thought for the opposite, which could look positive. If you do not believe the new thought, then make it believable; re-word it to be stable-minded, rational and above all, kind.
Changed thought: “I like my original look. The people I deserve in my life will get to know me and like me for me.”
This can be a difficult process. Practice makes all the difference in this new way of thinking. Having a diary to write down twisted thinking types of thoughts then reframing them into more useful, positive thoughts, could help your practice. The Catch It, Check It, Change It method is a simplified way of untwisting your negative thought process and a good place to start.