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Can you Change Your Thinking?

Carla is a medical doctor who tends to be quite analytical, work long hours, and have a very busy mind. After learning about the inside-out nature of life, Carla’s mind settled down quite a bit- all sorts of unnecessary thinking dropped away. Within that new mental space and mental quiet, she began to realize that she lived in different feeling states throughout the day. She sometimes experienced anxiety and depression in response to some adverse life events that had plagued her for many years. But the more Carla realized about the inside-out nature of life the more the repetitive thoughts that caused these feelings dropped away.

But recently Carla had been feeling quite down about a difficult case she was handling. It wasn’t going well, and she was worrying about it. Then, she said, she realized she could change her thought, and then it changed! She said she felt much better after that.

‘Did you really change your thought?’ I asked her. ‘How did you do that’?

There was a pause.

‘When most people say that, they mean something like that they replaced a negative thought with a positive one, as in positive thinking, or what cognitive behavioral therapy calls re-framing. Is that what you meant?’ I asked her.

‘No, Carla replied. ‘I realized I was feeling yucky and then I realized that that feeling was coming from my own thoughts. Then the thinking just seemed to go away- at least I noticed that my feelings changed for the better.’

I thought that that’s what Carla meant, but it was actually quite different from what she said. Can you see the difference in the language? So many people talk these days about changing their thoughts or thinking positively, that it’s easy to slip into talking about ‘changing your thoughts’ when in fact it’s not you doing the changing at all. Thoughts change themselves. It’s a subtle distinction that makes all the difference in the world.

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