The Power of Thought to Create Emotion

One of my favorite quotes is from Mahatma Gandhi:  “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become you habits, your habits become your destiny.”

Science is now proving that he was exactly right – that what we think creates how we feel.  Through becoming aware of what is going on in our minds, we can consciously choose to think something that is equally true, but makes us feel better.

I use this technique regularly.  For example, I am in the process of writing a book.  I had no idea how challenging a project it would be when I started (which is perhaps a good thing), and there have been times when I’ve thought that I will never get it done, that I just can’t do it.  When those thoughts enter my mind I feel depressed (not clinically, but the kind of situational depression we all go through).

The way I get myself back on track is to think another thought – one that is equally true but that creates a different feeling.  Usually it’s something like, I’ve done difficult things before, I am well organized, I always manage to get my work done – which makes me feel focused and calm, and I can get back to work.

You might try this exercise.  When you are feeling sad or situationally depressed about something, ask yourself what you are thinking – and write it down.  Next, come up with a few alternative thoughts that are equally true, but that do not make you feel bad.  Choose the one that feel most natural, and repeat it whenever the negative thought creeps back into your head.

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