During my regular walks through the local fields I often follow the well-worn paths that others have trod before me. To take a different path would mean wading through long grass with nettles and thorny brambles grabbing at my ankles. It’s much easier to take the welcoming paths that were forged long before I arrived. It is easier. It is familiar. These paths through the fields were not intentionally structured but formed as people walk the same route through the grass day after day, year after year.
These paths remind me of thoughts. When a thought pops in to our head it is so much easier to follow a familiar pattern of thoughts than to try to forge new ones. But what if that thought pattern is a negative one? Negative thinking can bring down our mood and create emotions such as fear and anger. Our feelings and emotions are created by our thoughts. If we think about a past trauma, we may feel fear or shame. If we think about someone who hurt us, we may feel anger. The negative thoughts evoke negative emotions producing an all too familiar pattern.
As negative thoughts trigger negative emotions such as anger, sadness and fear so positive thoughts create positive emotions such as joy and peace. By choosing positive thoughts we can create more positive feelings. If you’re thinking that choosing different thoughts patterns sounds like hard work, you’re right. It’s a bit like choosing a different path through the field. Imagine having to wade through the waist high vegetation to find your way. You would need to tread on the nettles and find a safe way through the brambles. There may be tree roots to climb over and you may even stumble and fall having to repeatedly get back up again. Eventually though, by repeating this walk many times over, you will start to see a path emerging. Barely visible at first but becoming clearer and more familiar. You may even discover new and exciting things as you journey through the undergrowth. What was once a seemingly impossible route, becomes a familiar and easier path.
You can begin this journey by identifying any familiar negative thought patterns and noticing when they occur. As you notice yourself getting drawn in to negative thinking you can start working on replacing unhealthy thoughts with more healthy positive ones. A good place to start is with the way you think about yourself. Negative self-talk can be quite harmful and destructive. Choosing to forge new thought patterns by identifying unhealthy thoughts and replacing them with more positive and loving ones can be difficult at first. But with time and patience it can be done and new healthy thought patterns will result in more positive emotions. Who knows what you may discover about yourself along the journey.
The New Dawn Counselling centre is committed to providing support for individual adults, couples, children, young people and families. You can contact us to book an initial assessment appointment via our website or by email. Whilst most sessions continue to be delivered online or by telephone, a limited number of face to face sessions are available.