When we face the prospect of doing something that is ambitious, challenging, or unfamiliar, our mind will naturally conjure up thoughts about it. Such thoughts may appear as simple words or sentences. At other times these thoughts may manifest as images or memories. This happens without our conscious control and all of this is, of course, perfectly normal, as this is what minds do. Thoughts will come, stay for a bit, and then leave – whether we “like” these thoughts or not.
For the most part we tend to listen to our thoughts, and believe them. And by listening to and believing our thoughts, we tend to act or behave in accordance with them. In a clinical setting, this phenomenon is often referred to as “thought-action fusion”. Whether for good or for bad, fusing with our thoughts is a fundamental part of our everyday lives. It allows us to make sense of the world, allows us to problem-solve, sustain relationships, and work towards our goals. However – and this is the crucial point to bear in mind – when we fuse with thoughts that are influenced by stress, fear, and emotional pain (from the past or from the present), then this can be a serious hindrance to our own personal development. It can negatively affect our self-esteem and stop us from pursuing our goals and ambitions.
When we want to engage in certain activities that carry a perceived risk-reward element, one should be mindful of certain ‘thinking styles’ that may emerge. We obviously want to engage in a thinking-style that serves us, and not one that holds us back.
Some of the more common and automatic negative thinking styles that can get activated when we want or need to engage in certain activities include:
I would like to invite you to take a few moments, either now or at another time that suits, and reflect upon the following question: Up until this point in time, how have your automatic thoughts, and the fusing associated with them, affected your ability to build the type of life and life-style you want to have?
Remember – it’s the fact that we fuse with our automatic thoughts and sometimes get lost in their stories that impedes us – it’s not the thoughts themselves. These thoughts are just a normal part of being human, and we can learn to change our relationship with them.