Friday, August 10, 2007

"Select Thought" Cognitive Therapy


The quality of happiness in your life often depends on the types of thoughts that you choose to emphasize and allow into your mind. This seems so obvious and selfevident that it almost seems unnecessary to mention.

Nevertheless, much misery is created because we neglect the process of thought-selection. We behave almost as if thoughts have a kind of "will" of their own, that if we begin a negative chain of thought, or thought-train, it has an inertia of its own. One negative thought leads to another, then, to another, and so forth, until we have an entire train or chain of negative thoughts.

But once we become aware of the very beginning of a negative thought-chain, we can arrest it at the start. We can then alter our conscious thought-content from the negative to the positive.

Here's an example: The thought, "No one loves me," leads to, "I'm unlovable," or, "I don't deserve Love," and several other negativities. Before we know it, we can fall into a negative thought-chain; later, this can lead to anxiety, stress, or even depression.

But with "select thought" cognitive therapy, here is what can happen: The inadvertent thought, an inertial and "automatic" one, comes into the mind, "No one loves me." If we are aware, we can immediately correct this thought with a more rational one: For example, "I do have one real friend. This is the best friend in the whole universe, and She loves me deeply, entirely, and unconditionally." This is the Goddess within the heart. She is the best friend in the universe, and is willing and eager, at any time, night or day, to surround you in her warm, sweet Love.

So, instead of allowing a negative thought-train to take off on its own, you "arrest" it as soon as you are aware of it. Take a deep breath, try to relax, try to sink into meditation, and then, replace the negative thought with a positive one. Visualize your body being surrounded and filled with a bright healing light, and visualize this healing light also filling your head. Feel its healing Love.

Here is the simple but often neglected secret of "select thought" cognitive therapy:

If you think about what you do not have, and what you cannot do, you will tend to drain yourself of positive energy, bringing yourself down.

If, on the other hand, you choose to think about the things that you do have, and the things that you can do, you will give yourself a positive boost. This can be astonishingly healing to our feelings and mood.

Even the richest person in the world can choose to think about what she does not have, and bring herself down. Even the poorest person in the world can choose to think about what she does have, and bring her spirits

So, we need to cultivate the good habit of allowing ourselves to think about only what we do have, and what we can do. When you start to feel down, remind yourself of the following: You have a functional if imperfect body; you have a functional if imperfect mind; if you have any moments that are pain-free, feel gratitude for those, and remind yourself of what a blessing each pain-free moment is. If your digestive system works, celebrate the fact. If your nervous system works, celebrate. Do the same re your respiratory, muscular, and other systems.

If you have a place to live, remind yourself. Many, many people on this planet do not. If you have enough food, be grateful; again, many do not.

If there is a food that you especially like, give yourself a little treat, and eat it in moderation. If you enjoy bathing, take your time and bathe at a leisurely pace, again reminding yourself of what a great blessing this is.

If you have friends, remind yourself of what a treasure they are. If you feel betrayed or let down by a friend, do not allow yourself to "recycle," "rerun," or endlessly, exhaustingly to review the event. Instead, push it out of your mind, and replace it with only pleasant thoughts.

You can also treat yourself to aromatherapy. Many find that floral fragrances (hyacinth, rose, lilac, etc.) are mildly euphoric (contributing to a positive mood or feeling). Many use sage specifically for this purpose, including clarey sage.

Count your blessings, literally. If you have a hobby, celebrate it. If you have employment, be thankful for it. This applies to any interests that you might have-- sensual, intellectual, artistic, scientific, spiritual, or other. Consciously, deliberately distract your mind from your problems by focusing all attention on your hobbies, interests, or passions. Never just allow your mind to "drift" into the negative thought-chain.

You can also sing. It matters not at all if you have the world's most "terrible" voice; the act of singing is itself therapeutic, whether you are "good" at it or not.

So, next time you start to feel "down," sit down, take some deep breaths, and remind yourself of all that is good, or positive, in your life. Your mind, in its illness, might even tell you that you have nothing positive. This is simply a symptom of the illness. Ignore this message, and continue to search your mind. Look for positive memories, for these exist in the now, and even if they come from the past, are parts of your life-treasures in the NOW.

Nature, God, our friends, our families, and our own hearts all contain beautiful jewels that can help us to make it through the rough times. Also, feeling "bad" once in a while is not a disease; it is normal and natural, and does not require drug-therapy. So, if you start to feel "down," don't panic. Instead, take a step back from your life, and look for the positive. Insist on thinking only positive thoughts about positive events, situations,and things. Demand this of yourself! Do not compromise, or allow the mind to drift into the negative! Try "select thought" cognitive therapy! You will be glad that you did!

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