How Your Thoughts Influence Your Behaviour
There’s a universal secret to living a full life: you are what you think. Not what you were expecting, huh?
Nevertheless, many of the great minds of our time agree that thoughts are the building blocks of life experiences. Simply put: the quality of your thoughts reflects the quality of your life.
The problem is when you start to believe that material things can make your life better. You buy shiny, expensive things and go on trips to faraway, exotic places.
Some people even resort to mind-numbing substances to help them forget their reality.
The truth is that creating a better reality starts by creating change from the inside. Your thoughts are the driving force behind why you feel and act the way you do.
Once you understand the link between those three, you can start living the life you want in the way you want it.
Below, you’ll find three life-altering tips. Incorporate them into your day to help you change negative thought patterns to positive ones. Let’s dive in…
1. Recognize Faulty Thought Patterns
Most of our beliefs and thoughts tend to be more on the negative side. These faulty thought patterns can lead to mental disorders like anxiety and depression.
The author Earl Nightingale said, “We become what we think.” So, why are you letting your negative thoughts dictate how you live your life?
Here are some of the more common negative patterns of thought many of us suffer from. Get a pen and paper and write down which of them you most relate to.
Once you’ve identified them, you can start to transform them from the negative to the positive.
• Minimizing achievements and maximizing simple errors
• Catastrophizing future outcomes
• All-or-nothing dichotomous thinking
• Generalizing people and situations
• Filtering out positive statements and focusing only on the negative
2. Foster Healthy Habits
When you do something repeatedly, it becomes a habit. The more you do it, the more likely you’ll keep doing it in the future.
Thought patterns are the same way. The more you think in a certain way, the more you’ll likely keep thinking about it the same way over and over again. Soon enough, it’ll start to consume your day-to-day living.
The science behind it is that each thought ignites a chemical reaction in your brain. This reaction then triggers a certain emotion. As a result, your emotions send a signal to your body and you react accordingly.
This cycle repeats itself until you realize you’re not living the life you want for yourself. You can’t even recognize who you are anymore. Marcus Aurelius’ quote rings true here, “A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.”
It’s then that you should decide to make a change. Recondition yourself by recognizing negative thoughts and how they affect your emotions.
The act of thinking about your thinking is what psychologists refer to as metacognition. It’s one of the best ways to find out what’s causing your thought patterns.
As with most things, reconditioning your thoughts takes time. Brace yourself for a few bumps along the way but stick with it.
You’ll realize it’s the only way to become aware of the link between your thoughts, emotions, and behaviour. Only then will you be able to regain control and live the life you deserve.
3. Seek Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective tool for dealing with certain mental disorders. This type of therapy focuses on the idea that our thoughts, behaviour, and emotions are all linked.
The best thing about CBT is it’s all about your present, rather than focusing solely on past events. After all, it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
Through CBT, you learn how to challenge negative thoughts and behaviours. CBT is also unique in that it assigns practical work outside each session. It’s a great way to see first-hand how thoughts influence behaviour and start to live intentionally.
Check out some of the most common CBT strategies:
• Exposure: Coming face-to-face with your fears to confront and overcome stress and apprehension
• Mindfulness: Focusing on the present moment through steady breathing and your five senses
• Skills training: Practicing certain skills through role-playing, modelling, and mock scenarios
Now, it’s time for a little challenge. Become more conscious of your thoughts, both the good and the bad.
Negative thoughts hold you back from living life to the fullest. They keep you shackled in a tiring cycle of self-doubt, fear, and panic.
On the flip side, positive thoughts make you feel good about yourself. They uplift your mood, boost your motivation, and encourage you to work hard.
So, work on rewiring your brain to think happy, positive thoughts. Getting started may be difficult in the beginning, but it’s worth it in the long run.
Your future self will thank you!