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The Way You Think

Written by: Ryan Light, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

One of the biggest misconceptions I find is that people believe they can control their thoughts.


In actuality, you have no control over your thoughts, but you DO HAVE CONTROL over the way you think!


How is this accomplished?


By first defining how you attach to your thoughts, such as cognitive distortions and self-limiting beliefs.

Cognitive Distortions


Those who struggle with unresolved trauma tend to evaluate, view, and see life through a "broken lens."


Your current life experiences are filtered through this broken lens and directly correlate to your actions, reactions, and behaviors.


Let's take a look at a few of these cognitive distortions below:


  • Magnification/Minimization: This is where you tend to either magnify (make a mountain out of a molehill) or minimize (sweep it under the rug) situations or experiences in your life.

  • Catastrophizing: This distortion might find you viewing yourself as "a complete and utter disaster." Everything in your life is perceived to the extreme as a catastrophe.

  • Overgeneralization: As an example, this is where you believe that just because one person hurt you, all are out to hurt you. You place people/situations into generalized categories and ignore the individuality of each.

  • Personalization: This could be the "Me, Me, Me" distortion. No matter the conversation or situation (whether good or bad), you believe it revolves entirely around you.

  • Magical Thinking: You want to throw pixie dust on everything with this distortion. You find yourself wearing a mask and reiterating "I'm fine" when that's about as far from the truth as you can get.

  • Jumping to Conclusions: Here is where you might find yourself in full-on anxiety mode. You make assumptions about a person, place, or thing where you have yet to uncover all the facts.

  • Emotionally Reasoning: This is where decisions are based on feelings versus rational thinking. And when you make a decision based solely on your emotions, it is often the wrong one.

  • Mind Readers: This is often referred to as "Fortune Telling." You believe you know what everyone else is thinking based on their reaction or even something as simple as a look on their face.

  • Disqualifying the Positive: When things are going well, this distortion is where you disqualify that and tend to self-sabotage instead.


Cognitive distortions are tied to our beliefs, which are connected to how we feel. When we live life through the broken lens of these distortions, unhealthy coping mechanisms are formed to avoid doing the exact thing we need to heal…..sit with and allow ourselves to feel.


Self-Limiting Beliefs


Life gives you what you believe and what you think is a byproduct of how you speak.


Your self-limiting beliefs are like a traffic signal stuck in red - they stop you from being able to move forward.


Speaking such words as the examples below is what affirms those limiting beliefs:

  • "But" is a way to justify excuses.

  • "Can't" is a justification for low self-worth.

  • "Must" justifies a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.

  • "Never" and "All" are justifications of black and white thinking.


All of which justify your cognitive distortions and keep you stuck in the likes of anxiety and depression.


You change the way you think by first changing the way you speak. Next, you learn and become aware of your type of thinking style.


Thinking Styles


I've discovered there are three different types of thinking styles:

  1. Feeler - Where everything you do is based upon your feelings.

  2. Analytical - You need all of the factual information to make a decision.

  3. Rationale - This is a meeting in the middle. You open yourself up to both sides of the equation.


The Feeler and Analytical thinking styles are both very rigid. When you start to become mindful of which way you think, you can then introduce the flexibility of Rational thinking into the mix.


Perspectives begin to change, anxiety is reduced, and depression dissipates when mindfulness comes into play, leading to the ultimate goal of Rational thinking.


Automatic Negative Thoughts


Distorted thinking often leads to ANTs, also known as Automatic Negative Thoughts.


When you are stuck in a rigid thinking style, it is a natural reaction to be negative/pessimistic as life comes rushing at you. This is seen as a protective mechanism. However, this "protective" mechanism is what will keep you swirling headfirst into the cycle of anxiety.


It would help if you allowed yourself to become vulnerable and let others in. When you become mindful and open, this is not only a way to help your heart heal but will also change the context of your other relationships.


Life Trauma Cycle


The way you depict life is viewed through one of the four quadrants of the Life Trauma Cycle:

  1. To Me - About 90% live life through this quadrant. You are stuck in your story and the "Why Me?" regarding your experiences.

  2. For Me - As you start to heal, you will transition to this quadrant and begin to understand the trauma in your life happened for a reason.

  3. Through Me - This quadrant is where you move from learning to teaching. You can now use your pain to work through you and help others.

  4. As/Is Me - Deep healing occurs when you reach this quadrant. You don't see life through a broken lens anymore and can now put meaning and purpose to your pain.


Remember that healing is a process that involves time and an investment in yourself to do the hard work it takes to heal.


Healing the Way, We Think


Acknowledging is the first step to healing. You need to become aware of and bring to light your cognitive distortions and self-limiting beliefs to change how you speak.


The way you speak influences your thinking style and Automatic Negative Thoughts.


Once you acknowledge these, you can delve deeper into discovering your thinking patterns and implement mindfulness. This will help you insert the changes needed to move from one quadrant to the next within the Life Trauma Cycle.


As I said in the beginning, you can't control your thoughts. Yet if you first acknowledge the pitfalls that keep you stuck in your story, you can implement the necessary tools to manage how you think.


Follow Ryan on his Facebook, Instagram and website for more info!


 

Ryan Light, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Ryan Light is a mental health coach, author, thought leader, and influencer in the mental health space. Having spent 20 years of his life attempting to run, avoid and hide from the pain of his childhood and adolescence. He struggled with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and panic disorder. After contemplating suicide, Ryan decided to finally confront his traumas through what he now coins “Feeling Work” and heal the real issues plaguing him with various mental health disorders. Today, his passion lies in guiding others through their struggles with anxiety, depression, and/or trauma through such avenues as social media, public speaking, self-paced courses, e-books, live workshops, and 1:1 coaching.

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