‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’ (Hamlet, William Shakespeare)
Sometimes conflict is created by no one else but you. Yes, you. You hold fast onto a belief, so hard that you cannot see straight. Or you act on an impulse because, well, emotions are to be acted upon. No matter how strong, how damaging, and how short-lived, you must act on those burning emotions. Right? Wrong.
Your thoughts and emotions are yours to do with whatever you will. You can act on them or not, it is your choice. And the more options you are aware of, the more informed that choice really is.
Here are five tips to regain control of your thoughts and emotions and stop creating conflict -
1. Bend your mind to alternative perspectives. So much of my work as a psychotherapist involves helping people to develop a more flexible approach to their thoughts. For example, many people make assumptions, and yet this can quickly escalate a situation. Also, many people hold fast to beliefs about how life ‘should’ be, when they have never stopped to consider an alternative way to be.
2. Expose yourself to the emotions you try to suppress. Often avoidance increases problems, so if you assess that what you are avoiding poses no real threat, you need to gently expose yourself to what you fear.
3. Resist the impulse. Some people believe that ‘if I feel it then it must be true’. But just because your emotions tell you to act, does not mean you should. You need to balance your emotions with your rational mind, and make an informed decision.
4. Get in touch with your bodily sensations. Our body serves as a bridge between our thoughts and emotions; it is another source of information. Don't ignore those somatic signals of discontent.
5. Stay mindful, which means anchoring yourself in the present. So much anxiety and depression is fuelled by a focus on a past you can do nothing to change, or a future you do not yet know. And when you do this, you are neglecting the all-important present which can be changed.
Does any of this inspire you to explore this further? If so, book a free initial assessment today.
Chris Warren-Dickins LLB MA LPC
Psychotherapist in Ridgewood, New Jersey