In the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) model, it’s proposed that changing how you think can change how you feel. Changing your thoughts can also influence what you feel in your body, as well as your behaviours (the things you do). The mind is a powerful force!
Man’s search for meaning
Viktor E. Frankl was a Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist. He was also a survivor of the holocaust.
He’s probably best known for his book Man’s Search For Meaning which is about his experience of surviving the concentration camps.
Frankl was also the founder of ‘Logotherapy’, which is based on the idea that the primary motivating force for human beings is to find meaning in life.
Frankl once said:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.
The fact that he was able to say this having been a prisoner in a concentration camp is pretty mind-blowing. He could so easily have given up on life.
Frankl’s quote encapsulates what CBT helps us explore. That in any given situation we can change how we think in order to change our feelings and behaviours.
This has the power to shape what happens next in our lives.
Changing how you think can change how you feel
If the mind is so powerful, it’s worth trying to steer it away from negative thinking. We can use it to look for the positives, opportunities, and learning points in the situations we encounter.
This isn’t to suggest that if we’ve been through traumatic times we ‘just’ need to think differently about them. It’s not always as simple as that.
Reframing your thinking
The mind cannot differentiate between what is real and what is imagined, so why not use it to imagine positive things happening instead?
Ultimately, we have the power to change how we feel and what we do, by what we think. We can start prompting ourselves to reframe (or think differently about) how we perceive situations.
It’ll take practice, but you’ll start to see how much this can benefit you.
As well as reframing how we view certain situations, it might also be helpful to think about what you might have learnt from your experiences. You might have learnt things about yourself or other people.
Even if the things you learnt weren’t necessarily positive, this might mean you can start to make changes to improve things for the future.