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Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

"Don't Believe Everything You Think!"

By April 12, 2014

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I was just listening to a lecture from Dr. Wayne Dyer, an inspirational writer and speaker who first caught my attention when I was in high school. He was talking about how negative thoughts and habits can hold us back by keying into the subconscious mind, where our negative habits are perpetuated virtually automatically, without us even thinking about what we're doing or questioning what we tell ourselves. Once we make up our minds about something, we operate from those assumptions and they shape our world.

And what happens when we're wrong? Stress is generally the result.

For example, when we're faced with a situation that requires a thoughtful response and tests our abilities, we can see the situation as a threat or a challenge. When we see it as a threat, we immediately feel that we're in danger of something bad happening, and the body's stress response is triggered. We then become engulfed by a cascade of physical responses that prepare us to fight or run, and can also impact our thinking, responses, and sense of wellbeing, and can sometimes lead to the negative effects of chronic stress. When we see the same situation as a challenge, we may feel inspired to rise to the occasion and handle it at our best--or we may simply handle it in an adequate manner--but we generally don't feel stressed in the same way.

The key to whether we see a situation as a threat or a challenge? Simple thought patterns--"I can't handle this!", "This shouldn't be happening!" or "Yikes, what a disaster!" can lead to fear and stress, while other thoughts like, "I can handle this!", "These things happen," and, "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger!" can lead us to feelings of confidence, and enable us to handle more challenges without feeling stressed.

Whether we experience a situation as stressful, challenging, or even invigorating can depend largely on how we interpret the situation, and that can depend on our habitual thinking patterns. And being aware of our negative thinking patterns is the first step in being able to replace them with more empowering patterns of thought. That's why I love this quote from Wayne Dyer's lecture: "Don't believe everything you think!" If you can start noticing and questioning your negative thinking patterns, you can replace them with positive, empowering ones. By doing this, you can eliminate much of the stress that you're experiencing, before you even experience it!

Pessimists are shown by research to experience less happiness, fewer successes and poorer health, and tend to have very specific types of negative thinking patterns. Some common negative thinking patterns are called 'cognitive distortions', and include 'catastrophizing', 'all-or-nothing thinking', and several others. Below is more information on negative thinking patterns--learn about them and become more aware of which are a little too familiar, and you can start to weed them out of your experience!

Negative Thought Pattern Resources:

What are some of your 'favorite' negative thinking patterns? How do they affect your life? Share your experience in the 'comments' section, and please share this blog with (via the 'share' button) if you've found it to be helpful. Have a positive day!


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April 30, 2010 at 10:46 am
(1) Steve Vernon says:

I was in a gathering recently where the leader shared that our thoughts are actually not OUR thoughts, but (and I know this will sound really bizarre to some readers) are the thoughts of the collective eternal consciousness that we are simply receiving on a continual basis.

Now…whether or not you buy into that particular philosophy (and admittedly I’m still wrapping my brain around that one), the basis idea is that, contrary to everything we’ve ever been taught in our western culture, we actually have no control over our thoughts themselves. What we do, however, have total control over how we respond to them.

The speaker continued by saying that we should observe our thoughts from a 3rd party standpoint, and then decide to which ones and how we will respond.

If you really think about it (ooops….did I say that?), it places everything you’ve so eloquently stated in this article in a whole different, and I think rather exciting, light.

April 30, 2010 at 11:38 am
(2) T S Gill says:

Hello Elizabeth

First I would like to congratulate you. You have done a wonderful job about stress management. Your article is very useful for stressed people.
Keep the great contents coming.

T S Gill

March 19, 2013 at 5:46 am
(3) samantha says:

I have thoughts im my head that my partner is with another woman iv been like this in all my realationships and so i accuse cause cant help believing it no matter how hard i try nearly all my ralationships have ended the same way with them doing it in the end which over the years has made me worce it started when i was 16 im 34 now and its killing this realationship to i havent the money to see a head doctor altho i know its a mental problem .my mom and dad was always unfaithfull to eachother and my mom used to make me go with her to meet men so she could say she was with me many times i stood in a feild for hours waiting for her from the age of 13 not sure if this is why im like this

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