Just like everyone else, we are holding unhealthy thoughts and ideas. While some of them cause us very little trouble, some others make us anxious, angry, guilty, depressed, sad, and discouraged. The good news is we really don’t have to keep holding these unhealthy thoughts and ideas—which cause us to feel miserable and unhappy—until we die.
The first step in changing our unhealthy thoughts is for us to identify them. That is not always as simple as we may think because many of them are held unconsciously. In other words, we are thinking these unhealthy thoughts and ideas more or less automatically—that is, without really realizing that we do so. And not only are we used to thinking them, but these very thinking habits—like many of our other habits—are present in us without our knowing it.
To identify our unhealthy thoughts, we can first proceed by deduction. As a matter of fact, it is often easier—at least, initially—to become aware of the way we feel. Since the same emotions are always caused by the same ideas, it will then be possible for us to identify the ideas underlying our emotions after first identifying our emotional state.
Similarly, we can also proceed by direct observation of our inner language. We can often put our finger on some of our unhealthy thoughts and ideas while simply paying attention to the words we speak—internally and externally. Another way is to ask people who know us well to help us identify our unhealthy thoughts. Since these people are outside of us, they sometimes can hear us think more clearly than we do it ourselves.
Finally, not only will the content of my upcoming articles point out the most prevalent misconceptions—the ones that generally make human beings feel miserable and unhappy—but this will most probably enable you to recognize the presence of these unhealthy thoughts and ideas in yourself.
After identifying an unhealthy thought, the following step will be for us to question and challenge it. Not only “disputing” unhealthy thoughts and ideas is one of the most powerful therapeutic method ever invented, but it was invented thousands of years ago by various philosophers—some of them Asian, and others Greek and Roman.
My next article will aim to demonstrate how we can use the “disputing” method to raise our level of happiness and improve the quality of our lives. Stay tuned!