Sunday, August 26, 2007

Your Thoughts Create Your Feelings

In Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated, David Burns writes:

"It is not the actual events but your perception that result in changes in mood. When you are sad,your thoughts will represent a realistic interpretation of negative events. When you are depressed or anxious, your thoughts will always be illogical, distorted, unrealistic, or just plain wrong."

World, Thoughts and Mood
Burns explains the relationship between the world, your thoughts and your mood:

  1. World - a series of positive, neutral and negative events.
  2. Thoughts - you interpret the events with a series of thoughts that continually flow through your mind. This is called your "internal
  3. Mood - Your feelings are created by your thoughts and not
    the actual events. All experiences must be processed through your brain and
    given a conscious meaning before you experience any emotional response.

Radio Dial Example
Burns illustrates the point with an example:
"Your blue moods can be compared to the scratchy music coming from a radio that is not properly tuned to the station. The problem is not that the tubes are
blown out or defective, or that the signal from the radio station is distorted
as a result of bad weather. You just simply have to adjust the dials. When you
learn to bring about this mental tuning, the music will come through clearly
again and your depression will lift."
Key Take Aways
While it's a simple concept, it has some pretty profound impact:
  • Your thoughts create your feelings.
  • You get what you focus on. If you focus on the negative side of a situation, your mood will reflect it.
  • How you interpret what happens in your life is important. The meaning you assign to events and experiences shapes your thoughts and your mood. There's something to be said for rose colored glasses.

It's another reminder that it's not what's on your plate, but how you eat it.

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