How many times, does your brain offers you ready, yet not necessarily optimistic, answers to the situations you are encounter in your life? How comes it has them ready for you nearly in an instance? Are they always good and true? How can you improve this process? And why you might want to do it? Let us check this.
What is auto thinking?
Imagine you went on a date. The first thing you hear from the person you going out is, that she needs to go home early, as there is some important for her event, early next morning. When you walk her home, she says her farewell and goes home alone. What do you think? In such a situation you might have thoughts, that something is not right. Maybe with you or with her. You might feel sad or maybe even disappointed. Or in the worst-case scenario, you might feel rejected, worthless, or even angry at self hopelessness.
This kind of auto thinking is quite popular. Your brains just love to suggest to you these kinds of thoughts. Especially if this wasn’t the first time or you had some set of low-esteem beliefs formed earlier in your life. This kind of insinuating may be observed in many other situations. Let’s say, you are going to the restaurant, where you see how the cook, in front of you, cuts and shreds food with precise and elegant movements. And then, you hear someone behind you, observing the same situation, saying that this is way too dangerous and it feels threatened.
Same situation, two completely different ways of thinking about it. For you was a spectacular show of amazing skills. Whereas for someone else it was an unsafe, life-threatening situation. In both cases, you and your restaurant neighbour experienced auto-thinking. Both of you had something suggested by your minds. What can you make from that kind of situation? Can you be sure that one of these reactions was right? If so which one? You might say yours. But how can you be so sure? I know how this might sound, but why not the other person?
Why do you need to be careful about what your mind suggest to you?
As you notice from the example above, two persons observing the same thing can have completely different thoughts about it. The point now is, not who is right and who is wrong. Rather, what can you learn from this example? Would not be better to, when you come to some conclusion about something, counter it. Question it. Instead of just blindly agreeing with it. Believing that this is the right thing. The right conclusion. What if it is not? What if your conclusion was not so good or completely wrong? Would not be better to assume that there might be another one?
Let us take the first example again. When the first thought about being looser and hopeless arise, why not challenge it and consider, that, this whole situation, can have many different interpretations. Surely, you might not make the best first impression and maybe your date was not interested in continuing this. However, maybe she really had some important event to attend the very next morning. Another assumption can be that, even if she had a great time with you, she might not think that the first date needs to end with breakfast.
Do you see where all this going? Your mind just loves to suggest you something, based on your previous experiences and beliefs formed during your childhood. This usually sounds so true, that you agree and hold to that proposal, without actually considering, that this not necessarily must be the truth. That in fact, this might be something that does not suit you anymore. That holding to that idea closes doors to opportunities waiting for you if you consider other possibilities.
How can you stop this auto-thinking?
Of course, you can every time, just hang to your first assumption. Just because it might feel right to you. Though, would not be better to ask yourself a few questions? Like. How does this thinking make me feel? Is it make me feel good? If not, maybe it is not the right thought? What are the other possibilities for this situation? Do I need or want to think this way? Do I see things and judge the situation realistically or maybe I am exaggerating? Is there any more rational way of thinking about this event, thing? This kind of checking and contesting would be your first step.
Second step. Would be to create a sentence that will be short, realistic and trustworthy. It needs to be something you can state with confidence, believing that this is another version of the response to the given situation. The best kind of counter-thought would be one that will undermine the one just stated. Showing all weaknesses and imperfections of the first one. Thou, do get this right. The point with this is not to replace a negative statement with the positive one. Rather, to find a rational, possible and logical opposition to contested opinion.
Taking the first example again, seeing a girl going away, you could easily create a counter opinion, stating something like – Sure, she might have really something important tomorrow or maybe I am not in her type. However, we spend a nice evening and there will be more like that in the future. Maybe not with her but well, there is a lot of women out there. The roles in this situation could be easily reverted, yet this trick of thought countering will remain the same. So the last thing that remains is to practice this every time you catch yourself auto-thinking.
Shortly, we discover what is auto-thinking and why you might want to replace it by practising counter-thinking. We discuss why this is better and how can you practise this skill.
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Blessings upon you my friend.
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