Understanding Thoughts

Often, the brain tends to want to operate under the law of least effort; i.e., autopilot. Since there has been uncertainty developing around the globe, your brain has likely been kicked out of autopilot, causing it to expel effortful thinking, therefore hindering the way you make choices. As a result, the brain tends to over-complicate situations that normally would call for simple solutions (leading you to believe said solution is not enough).

Current times have possibly caused your brain to go into overdrive, creating powerful and unavoidable stresses. This could lead to negative thinking and behavior. Since your brain is trying to navigate the stresses that surround you, it might be hard for you to recall yourself in a similar situation and how you managed to get yourself through. However, there are practices to help calm down and reset your brain so it can resume thinking rationally and performing how you need it to.

Cognitive Distancing

All of the thoughts and information we process have an influence on our emotions; creating joy, hunger, fear, and anxiety. However, it is important to remember that when you succumb to harsher emotions, such as fear and anxiety, it is because you are interpreting these thoughts as fact when they are not—they are actually just guesses. The brain likes to create scenarios in an attempt to solve a problem.

Think of this process as trial and error. You will influence these thoughts based on the kind of information you are ingesting. Your role is to distance yourself from the emotion and evaluate the likelihood of your thoughts actually happening. Ask yourself, “What is a more realistic outcome?”

Moving Data

Thoughts are moving data rather than objective truth. These thoughts pass through your mind—while some of these thoughts might be automatic to a given situation (i.e., reactionary), they are still fleeting. This is why thinking of your brain as a processing center instead of a place that manifests what you should believe. Think about how you can untangle your thoughts; try to observe them before reacting. Which ones draw you in? Which thought makes you want to avoid it?

Direct Experience

Thoughts are often shaped by negative experiences or influenced by outside stresses. However, these thoughts are not always an accurate representation of who you are. Think about your experience in the present. What is actually happening versus what might happen are not the same thing, even though your mind might treat them as such. Understand that your mind can be biased, but take the time to recognize why this is not the accurate impulse to have about yourself.

Label Your Thoughts

Try to focus on the type of thought you are having rather than the content of it. When do you notice judgment? When does something feel good or bad? When do you feel worried? Are you criticizing yourself? Getting away from the content to recognize what kind of thought you are having will make you more aware of your mental process. This could help in identifying your triggers, and therefore help you understand and move away from these kinds of thoughts. They will also support how you want to be spending your time. Do you want to be worried and stressed, or would you prefer more positivity and upbeat thinking?

Broaden Your View

It is all too easy to become consumed by focusing on negative thoughts. This kind of thinking distracts you from the whole picture. Anxiety further perpetuates this by focusing on the immediate threat. Try to broaden the context instead. While the current situation might be the root of your anxiety, ask yourself if this will be a concern in five to ten years from now? If not, you can begin to ease up on the worry. If you do consider your thought to be a concern, though, how can you take your anxiety and turn it into something productive? How can you use your anxiety to help motivate you to take the necessary steps to alleviating the worry? How can you prevent your mind from thinking in a loop? What other beneficial activities can you do to interrupt or distract from such thoughts?

Helpful Thoughts

Whether a thought is deemed true or biased, this does not mean you need to focus on it every waking second. If you worry about not being able to do something, then you are eliminating your opportunity to even try. Therefore, think more carefully about which thoughts are helpful and which are defeating. Take the helpful thought and pursue it. A helpful thought is one that is beneficial to your overall health and well-being that also promotes self-discovery and a self-sustaining practice.

Current times have created a lot of uncertainty among people around the world. Taking the time to understand your thoughts will help you to find more effective ways of managing your stress and your recovery. Remember, because the whole world is facing this, you are not alone. If you are still finding it difficult to gauge your thoughts and use them to your advantage, True Recovery is here to help you. We offer 24/7 care and customize treatment for each individual. For more information, please reach out to us today at (866)-399-6528.