Thinking – automatic thoughts

In irrational thinking I suggested that expecting thinking to act externally, and “attract” is somewhat flawed. I am more interested in how positive thinking acts internally. How we can improve self confidence and self esteem by changing our thoughts about ourselves. As a starting point I want to look in more detail at how our thinking evolves.

As we grow up, we are all subject to stimulation from those around us:- parents, siblings, teachers, peers, television, media, everyone…. Especially in our early years, the messages we receive formulate how we see the world, and our place in it. When we tried to stand up and walk, most of us got loads of encouragement – despite falling flat on our face – because this is something we should do and everyone around gets pleasure and excitement from seeing a child make its first steps.

The same happened with our first words. But as years go by, most children get far more negatives than positives – don’t do this/that, do be quiet, stop talking. How many parents encourage their children to talk more!! Sadly, for some, the negative messages are more harsh (“you can’t do that”, “you’re useless”) or even abusive. In childhood confidence I touched on this as well.

The result of being subjected to negative, rather than positive, messages is our internal belief system both lowers our expectations and automatically creates negative thoughts. This means that whatever is presented to us, our automatic thoughts are negative-

“Would you like to … go for a walk” [“it might rain”]

“… go for a meal at a restaurant” [“everywhere will be busy”]

“… meet my friends” [“they won’t like me, I’ve nothing in common with them”]

“… apply for this job” [“I won’t get it, I’m too old/young/inexperienced/over experienced/unqualified/overqualified … there’s lots of people going to apply, there is no way they’ll chose me..]

I’m sure you can think of you’re own examples. And I reckon many of us are prone to think this way to some extent. Few people, in my experience, have such brilliant positive thinking that they will automatically think positively in every situation:-

“excuse me, but there is a huge mountain of manure on your doorstep” [“great, someone has bought me a horse….”]. Which sounds a good place to stop!

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