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Transform Your Thinking In 3 Easy Steps

Written by: Claude L. King, 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.


Your mindset dictates how you navigate the world! Have you ever followed a “hunch,” or your “gut feeling” and you were completely wrong? This happens a lot more than we would like to admit to ourselves. Occasionally our gut feeling can mislead us based off prior negative experiences. What gets people in trouble is that they are not aware that this feeling is based off distorted or inaccurate thoughts.

Change your thoughts and you will change your world - handwriting on a napkin with a cup of coffee.

There is a concept in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), called the “Cognitive Triangle.” This concept demonstrates that thoughts influence feelings, and feelings determine actions. Based on these actions there are consequences (positive or negative) that will shape your worldview. The pattern becomes cyclical. If you are not mindful of this process, it can be easy to cycle through each step rapidly which can lead to assumptions, rushed conclusions, and impulsive decisions based on inaccurate information.

For example, if a person were driving down the expressway and was run off the side of the road by a semi-truck, he could develop a distorted view of safety. All truck drivers are careless, expressways are dangerous, I am vulnerable, I am not in control, I am not a good driver, this is my fault, etc. The way you interact and respond through this distorted lens can lead you to validate negative beliefs about your safety through confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories. This validation of negative beliefs about yourself or the world could evoke strong emotions and impulsive action. Continuing the example of the semi-truck using the Cognitive Triangle. Thought: expressways are dangerous, Feeling: I am fearful/anxious about riding expressways, Action: I refuse to drive on expressways.

You see how this can be process could be detrimental to your functioning?

What would it be like if you could slow down this process in real-time and be mindful each step?

What would it be like if you could transform and shape thinking to help you regulate your emotions, replace distorted thoughts, and achieve desired goals?

Here are 3 Easy Steps to Transform Your Thinking

Step 1: Self-Regulate

It starts with self-regulation. You can regulate your mood by incorporating different grounding techniques. The simplest and most effective way of self-regulating is through breath work. Slowing down your breath, breathing in deeply and fully through your nose for a count of three and breathing out through your mouth for a count of four. If you can slow down your breathing, your heart rate will follow, and soon you will notice your thoughts will steady. With breath work, it is important to engage in it when you are not already triggered. Just like any sport, you would not go into a game without practicing and expect that you will be able to perform to your optimal capacity. Practice breath work throughout the day when you experience mild stressors so when you encounter the bigger issues, you will be more effective at navigating them. This can be done first thing in the morning, while you are riding in the car, while you are watching tv or listening to music, or as your laying in the bed preparing to fall asleep. Some other ways you can ground yourself is talking to a supportive person, going for on walk, progressive muscle relaxation, listening to guided meditation, exercise, yoga, and listening to music.

Step 2: Self-Evaluate

Once your body is grounded it is time to move to your thoughts. Be mindful of the thoughts that are flooded your head. You can ask yourself these questions. Where are these thoughts originating from? Is this true based on my prior experiences? Does anybody in my family think this way? What about my friends? Has anybody or anything negatively influenced how I am viewing this issue? When is the first time I felt this way? Am I engaging in all-or nothing thinking? Am catastrophizing? Generalizing? Am I taking it too personal?

Step 3: Reframe

When your body is regulated, and you feel in control you can began reframing your thinking. You can do this by thinking about all the times you have driven in a car, and you arrived at your destination safely. Affirm yourself... repeat to yourself “I am in control,” “I am a safe driver” “I am a cautious driver” “That accident was not my fault, “Sometimes accidents happen.” It may seem weird but repeating affirming statements aloud can empower and motivate you to overcome a negative self-belief. It can transform your thinking and give you the confidence you need overcome whatever obstacle is in your path.

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Claude L. King, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Claude L. King is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and is the owner of CK Psych PLLC, a therapy practice located in Chicago, Illinois. In addition, Claude serves as an Employee Assistance Consultant for corporate clients providing short-term consultations and corporate-wide trainings in the areas of mental health, wellness, and other issues that impact work performance. His passion is to advocate, promote, and increase access of mental health services, especially within marginalized communities. Throughout his career as a clinical therapist, Claude has provided individual, group, and couples therapy for those impacted by traumatic stress, community violence, depression, anxiety, work stress, parenting stress, and issues affecting sexuality and intimacy. As a speaker, he has been featured on Newsy TV and served as a panelist for, Inc., Discover Financial, The Chicago Urban League, and various colleges and universities. His mantra is "Transformation Through Conversation."



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