Thoughts Are Not Facts (Practice)

Friday, July 28, 2017 · 8 Comments

thoughts-are-not-facts-infog-revised

So you’re waiting in the hallway with your mind spinning about how it’s been a pretty crappy day and life just doesn’t seem to be moving in the direction you’d like it to. Your friend walks by you and although you raise your hand to wave hi, she looks at you and just walks by.

Take a moment to sense what happened in your mind before reading any further.

Various thoughts may have arisen in connection with uncomfortable emotions:

• “What did I do wrong?”

• “I’m worthless.”

• “I knew it, nobody likes me.”

• “What the hell is wrong with her?”

• “What’s the point, really.”

OK…now let’s say your boss just told you what a fantastic job you’ve done and how she’s going to give you a 15% raise and an extra week vacation. This is great news…as your mind is spinning around all the ways this will enhance your life, your friend walks by and as you raise your hand to say hi, she just walks by.

Now what comes up in your mind?

Many people might have an alternative viewpoint here.

• “I wonder what’s wrong with her.”

• “I hope she’s ok.”

• “Maybe she didn’t see me.”

Same event, different precipitating event and mood, different interpretation.

The bottom line: Thoughts simply aren’t facts, they are mental events that pop up in the mind and are dependent on our mood. In this case, dependent on the precipitating event that led to the mood of feeling depressed versus excited.

Next time your mind jumps to a conclusion that inevitably sends in you in a spiral toward depression or anxiety, check to see where your head was at the time of that interpretation. What just occurred prior? There may be some clues as to why the interpretation was made that way.

Take this into your life and see what you notice.

Warmly,

Elisha Goldstein

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8 Comments

  1. Rob
    November 11, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    I’m curious about this in particular. Not when an event leads to a mood but when a low mood is there out of nowhere. Like depression or anxiety that sets in but has no external cause or identifiable cause. And where the depression is *itself* causing stress and not the other way around. So basically when the mood seems to be the “chronic stressor”.

    It isn’t really talked about too much unfortunately in the whole psychotherapy field. What are the usual treatments for that and how does CBT or mindfulness work in a situation like that? Its hard to apply stress reduction when the stress is the low mood and its repercussions in itself.

    • Nancy
      July 28, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      When mood is low, we must check our nutrition, especially a healthy gut, many times depression can be due to our intestines – lack of healthy bacteria, overgrowth of bad bacteria or even parasites. Getting healthy fats, healthy carbs (veggies) and healthy protein? Plea the Of water and exercise? Are vitamins and minerals balanced and enough? Hormones balanced? When low and no thoughts abound, we still need to feel our way through, what sensation is in the body? If no feeling, bring up the energy by exercise, walking and Qi gong shaking. The health of our body affects our mind and vice versa, they cannot be separated.

    • Aaron White
      July 28, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      Good question. Moods and emotions can bother us quite a bit. One helpful bit for me is to continue in the vein of we are not our thoughts. That is, continue on to experiencing moods and emotions as things that are arising in our consciousness just as thoughts do. Moods and emotions are not us; they arise and fall away.

  2. kari
    October 30, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Thank you for this reminder. I need to constantly remind myself (and others) of this fact that thoughts are not facts….

    • Elisha Goldstein
      November 1, 2016 at 12:53 pm

      We all do Kari…thank you!

  3. NEHA
    October 27, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    HI,
    I HAVE QUITE POSITIVELY THOUGHT OF SUBSCRIBING YOUR PAGE, AND WOULD LIKE TO ENROLL IN YOUR TALKS, MINDFUL LIVING, A STATE WHICH ALL OF US WANT TO THRIVE….MY REPLY TO U ON THE ARTICLE Thoughts Are Not Facts (Practice), IS IN THE FORM OF A QUESTION…AS THOUGHT DEPENDS ON OUR MOODS…DOES FEELINGS NOT BE A REASON TO HAVE THOUGHTS?
    UNDERSTANDING A PERSON WHO DOES OR DOES NOT DO A PARTICULAR ACTION, HOW WOULD WE CORROBORATE IT TO OUR THOUGHTS?

    REGARDS
    NEHA

    • Elisha Goldstein
      October 28, 2016 at 11:26 am

      Hi Neha,

      Good question. Yes, feelings are our main drivers toward perception. So understanding feelings (which are facts), can help us understand the nature of our thoughts and the thoughts of others.

      Warmly,

      Elisha

  4. Margot
    October 27, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    Thank you for this reminder. How many times do we need to be reminded? Every day I think!

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