"A clinical counsellor on Vancouver Island says it's natural to feel anxious in light…
During an average day, we have approximately 50 000 thoughts. That’s a lot! Now consider the impact if most of those have a negative tone. Not good, right? That’s how depression, anxiety and anger can develop into problematic emotional states.
Negative thinking is a main feature of depression, anxiety and anger. Indeed, depression manifests itself in negative thinking before you start feeling depressed. That is, first you think (negative thoughts) and then you feel (negative feelings). But most people don’t actually know this. It is difficult to capture these negative thoughts because they tend to be fairly automatic in nature, often occurring without our knowledge or awareness. The result is, first we experience the negative feeling without know the relevance of the negative thoughts.
Left unchecked, negative thinking becomes an unconscious part of the brain’s way of working. These negative thoughts then become a negative thought pattern, operating under the radar screen, and becoming a self-reinforcing habitual pattern (ie., negative thoughts result in negative moods resulting in more negative thoughts leading to more negative moods etc.).
So, how do you change your mood?
You can’t really control your emotions, but you can have influence, and thus control, how and what you think. There are 5 actions that you can take to change the manner in which you think, and so, you can change and improve how you feel.
- Realize that you can change the quality and characteristics of your thinking.
- Start keeping track of your negative thoughts. This is a critical step and should not be overlooked. You’ll need to record your negative thoughts by actually writing them down. Agreed, that this is a bit of a task, but, it is absolutely necessary. Why? Well, it gives you information about your negative thinking patterns, but it also ‘gets you out of your head’. There is something that happens when you write this stuff down, and in a funny sort of way, it lessens the degree and impact. Having said that, the intention of recording your thoughts is to gather information about your negative thinking patterns. Pay particular attention to the negative thoughts that start with the word “I”, such as “I’m such a bone head”, “I should’ve known better about…”, “I’ll never be good enough”. Record the thoughts in which you portray yourself as a victim, or have a sense of powerlessness, helplessness and hopelessness.
- Next, look to identify the situations that trigger those negative thoughts. Again, recording the circumstances assists you in focusing and learning more about what and how it all starts to happen. Negative thinking tends not to happen without a context or triggering event and/or experience. Figuring this out is also critical in getting a handle on the thoughts, and thus your mood.
- Lastly, begin to consider alternative manners of thinking. That is, respond to your negative thought with more balanced and positive thinking. It is super important that you learn how to respond to the negative thought with more realistic and positive manners of thinking. This naturally will take a lot of practice, as you are likely trying to short-circuit a longstanding negative thinking pattern with something different. Even reminding yourself with the thought “Even though I’m thinking negatively, I’m trying to change it be being aware of the thoughts” is a much better response to your negative thinking that allowing them to be unchecked.
So yes it IS possible to change your mood. It is all about taking note of your thoughts.
WayPoint Counselling has experienced counsellors located in Greater Victoria, the Western Communities, and soon Nanaimo and the Lower Mainland. Through the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, you can get back on track and change your mood. We help you find the right counsellor and offer a complimentary initial consultation, and individual, couples and family counselling services.