Over the last 10 years, I’ve come to recognize that many people struggle with their mental health. I want to be very sensitive to the subject of mental health because everyone’s situations are unique. And so, I never want to claim to know even a spec of what you or your friend may be experiencing. Everyone feels, processes, and responds differently. What may help one person doesn’t help another. We are all so different from our upbringings, surroundings, and influences.
I also feel strongly that there is one universal action we can all take to help ourselves or help our neighbor or friend. And that is prayer. Prayer helps to lift another’s aching heart, bring confirmation that they are loved and special, and can give them relief in ways we don’t know how. I believe in the power of prayer and that God loves each of his children uniquely and is always listening and reaching out to help.
Second to prayer for creating positive feelings, is becoming aware of your thought processes. Are they positive? How do your thoughts make you feel, and ultimately behave?
Have you ever thought about what your thought processes are and how they came to be?
Negative Thought Processes
Negative thought processes are negative thoughts that have become a pattern of thinking. They can be thoughts about oneself, life, others, career, etc. that negatively effect a part or all of one’s life. For many of us, negative thought patterns are well-worn neural pathways. (For some people, there is also chemical imbalances within the brain. In this blog post, we are only referring to patterns of thinking and not chemical imbalances that can cause irrational thinking.)
To overcome negative thought processes, you have to replace them with new thought processes…this takes time and effort.
Here on earth, we all experience negativity, unfair treatment, tragedy, and hardship. These experiences create thoughts and emotions.
When something annoying, sad, or unpleasant happens to us (our circumstance), we feel sad/negative feelings. This is natural and normal.
However, before we felt the sad or negative feeling, there was a THOUGHT. A thought that lasted probably a millisecond. A thought that tells us how we should feel. Our brain is a data center that pulls data from past experiences and tells us how we should feel. The thought is what triggers our emotions. This just might mean, if we can control our thoughts, we can choose our emotion. Right?!
Unfortunately, most of the time we don’t even recognize that we had a thought before the emotion because it happens so fast. But, we can learn to recognize those thoughts.
Circumstance>> Thought>> Emotion>> Behavior
Many people believe that we have circumstances that trigger our emotions and we have no control over how we feel or act. This is incorrect…we actually have way more control than most of us realize. In a very real way, we can create our own reality…our own narrative; that can bring us much happiness.
If we change our thoughts, we can change our feelings, which effects our overall happiness.
Here is an everyday example:
- While Matt is driving his car on the freeway, someone obnoxiously swerves around him and then cuts him off. Matt’s thought is, “What a jerk!” Matt immediately feels irritated and may even say a few hard words under his breathe.
What if the man who cut him off was on his way to the hospital to see his mom who had moments left to live? Or forgot to pick up his son from baseball practice and was worried because it was getting dark. Would your emotional response be the same? For most of us, our emotional response would be very opposite.
Changing your thoughts, changes your feelings.
I think we can all relate to this story in one way or another! What do we say about others in our head? What do we say about ourselves? Can you change your thoughts to change how you feel?
The first step to changing your thought processes is recognizing the thought. Then, to re-frame it, and finally, to retrain it.
This is something I am working on daily. It is a skill to develop and takes lots and lots of practice. Changing your thoughts can change your emotions and lend a better result.
*My husband who has struggled greatly with depression would explain how difficult it was at times to practice retraining your thoughts. He had chemical imbalances within his gut, and his gut and brain did not have clear communication. This made doing a lot of these types of things (including eating healthy) A LOT HARDER! Here is my blog post about the BEST tools we used to overcome depression, anxiety, and brain fog. It’s been a miracle in our family. This is very close to my heart…and I pray daily that our experiences can help anyone who is also looking to improve their mental health. (See blog post here)
Thanks for reading my insights on how to create more positive feelings and happiness in your life. <3
*Want to learn more about my favorite tool for helping to improve mood? Drop me a message and I’d be happy to connect…
I’m not a doctor and don’t claim to be. Always seek medical attention and advice if needed. ((Hugs))