Jennifer: Nov BHC article www:CaptainLarrySmith.com or contact Larry @ 949 933-2505 Thoughts, Feelings, Actions and Consequences - that’s what it’s all about By: Larry Smith CAS Author of Captain Larry Smith’s Daily Life Plan Journal At the start of a focused process group I ask clients or patients to check in with a feeling word such as: Mad, Glad, Sad, Afraid, Ashamed or Hurt. After they all check in, I surprise them by saying: “As your counselor I don’t care how you feel!” Since they know my passion for recovery, and that I admire them for their courage to seek treatment, they usually respond with a surprised look. Then, I state – “It’s your thoughts that I’m concerned about. More speciﬁcally, how you process your thoughts.” “Thoughts create feelings, feelings ignite internal reactions and your response creates actions that result in either positive or negative consequences.” When we think of something, we automatically have a feeling or an emotion as a result of the thought. Thoughts and feelings work together to produce urges, whether they are rational or irrational. Then comes the split second decision to react or to pause before action is taken. I don’t know who counted but it is often reported that we have around 60,000 thoughts per day. May be that number is a little exaggerated since there are only 86,400 seconds in a 24-hour day. Regardless we all have tens of thousands of thoughts every day that result in our feelings, moods and emotions to vary constantly. The problem is most of are thoughts are not positive. Neutral and negative thoughts far outweigh the purely positive. Negative thoughts result in negative feelings and people become so familiar with living in negativity that they literally become comfortable with it. Have you ever known someone that wasn’t content unless they were miserable? Negative thoughts and behaviors may result in “self-sabotage” – conscious or unconscious damage done to self by self. Thoughts that self-sabotage: “I’m different” – I’m more complicated than others. You don’t know me. Making the rounds – looking for answers from many different sources in hopes to hear what you want to hear. Stacking the evidence – looking for evidence that suggestions will not work, being close-minded that anything can improve the situation “No way” – Refusing to change or take risks regardless of the evidence. Seeking Excuses – Deﬂecting responsibility by using one excuse after another, often preceded by using the term, “Yes but!” Behaviors that self- sabotage: Mindless Eating Overspending (shopping) Gambling Inappropriate sex Chain Smoking Isolating Risky Behavior These thoughts and behaviors repeated become obsessive or addictive. Dealing with negative thoughts and behaviors: • Recognize that negative feelings come from negative thoughts, so identify the source of your thoughts. Are your thoughts fear based, do they come from past experiences, or conditioned inaccurate belief systems? • Ask yourself questions like: Are my thoughts rational? Are these thoughts always true? Are my thoughts beneﬁcial or destructive to my wellbeing? • Challenge yourself to move out of your comfort zone and take steps toward healthy risks, such as: learning something new. Examples could include: hobbies, sports, musical instrument, foreign language, yoga, art… then, enjoy without judgment. 4. Set goals and journal your progress. Make your goals healthy, positive, speciﬁc, measurable, and relevant. Journal your feelings and assess how you are doing. Write out possible solutions to your obstacles. Having the awareness that our thoughts eventually create our perception of reality enforces the importance of personal self-assessment. Taking responsibility by seeking help from others to process our feelings indicates emotional maturity far beyond those who believe they have all the answers within themselves.