Our brain and our body are linked. Our thinking produces chemical changes in our body, and our body produces chemical changes in our brain, causing our feelings and influencing our thinking.
This is good news because it means that we can do things to influence the way that we feel. We can do this in two ways:
• Change the way we think or interpret the events that are around us.
• Change our physical actions.
When we are under stress we tend to become focused on the negative. While this is normal, it is not necessarily helpful, as it is our thoughts, which cause feelings, which drive our behaviour.
Importantly, our thoughts are not always accurate. They represent the way that we are interpreting a particular event, and we base this interpretation on our past experiences, our mood, our expectations, and our thinking habits. This is why two people can experience exactly the same event, but see it in a completely different way.
The way that we think has a significant impact on the way that we feel, and small changes in the way we think can make a significant difference to our experience of life. While changing the way we think is not as simple as just reframing every negative into a positive, you can ask yourself a series of questions, which can help you see a particular situation a different way.
When you notice that you are feeling negative, sad, frustrated or stressed its important to try and capture (identify) what you are thinking (what you are saying to yourself). Then ask yourself:
• If a close friend or someone I loved was thinking this way, what would I tell them?
• Are there any alternative explanations possible, or am I making assumptions?
• What are the exceptions to this ‘rule’ (such as ‘I always get treated badly’; ‘I never get on top of things’; ‘he never thinks about me.’)
• 5 years from now when I look back will I see things differently?
• What other information am I ignoring?
• What else could I think to myself, which is true enough AND is more helpful?