It’s The Thought That Counts!
by Crossroads therapist Lauren Jack MC, LPC
One of the many reasons why I love my career is that I get to explore the true emotions, desires and need of my clients. What I’ve come to understand about my clients and in turn myself is that we all desire to feel love, be connected and experience meaningful relationships.
During my own personal journey toward these feelings I have tried many different techniques such as: aromatherapy, reflexology, massage, exercise and dietary changes. I also completed my Master’s Degree in Counseling. While all of these techniques and education absolutely made a difference in my life, there was still something that seemed to be missing. What I was unaware of for many years is that often times I was inadvertently sabotaging my own happiness by the thoughts that I was thinking. The key for me was to be aware and more gentle with my thoughts.
Through Neuroscience research it has been discovered that every thought that we think creates a chemical reaction in the body. When we have good feeling thoughts some of the chemicals released include oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. When we have negative thoughts making us feel limited, stressed or anxious that can create a breeding ground for adrenaline and cortisol being released which in turn can break down the body and cause disease.
What’s even more fascinating is that as we innocently practice these limiting thoughts such as, ”I’m not good enough”, “I can’t get it right”, “and I am helpless” our brain will continue that same thought process and give us more of the same. So as it turns out the brain is very neutral just giving us more data based on what we are thinking. The problem is that most of us walk around as victims to our thoughts without realizing it.
So what can we do? I have come to find that these three simple things are helpful:
1. Notice the thought.
Simply notice the thought that you were thinking. Does it make you feel good? Does it make you feel bad about yourself or anxious in any way? Most of us just accept our thought as truth without any awareness as to how they are making us feel.
2. Accept the thought.
When you notice these negative thoughts just be gentle with yourself. Just be OK with where your thoughts are at this time. By remaining more neutral you are starting the process of reprogramming the thoughts and eventually your chemistry.
3. Replace or surrender.
There is a space in between our thoughts and if we become aware of it we will notice that we can either go down the same path or we can upgrade our thoughts. This is where we begin to ask ourselves “is this thought working for me” or “is this thought making me feel better or worse”? By contemplating our thinking we begin to move away from the old programs.
By being conscious and consistent of your thoughts we can greatly effect the way we think and feel . However, for people who have experienced traumatic events simply trying to change your thoughts may not serve to be enough. In those cases there have been incredible results using tools such as EMDR and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to name a few. We all deserve to be loved, have meaningful relationships, and to be connected…….remember it starts from within.