This past week I have pondered the question of whether it is possible to think yourself out an emotional response. This is important to me as I examine my reaction to so many different things in my life, but specifically to how I react to stress. I tent to get anxious, overwhelmed, fearful and then completely disabled when stress mounts. After a chat with my pastor, he suggested I take a look at Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as a means to change my self-talk and create a different response to my habitual negative one. I have been introduced to this type of therapy through the WellCoaches training I am taking right now, but when I thought about it on a more personal level, it occurred to me that this therapy could be used to help people overcome negative habits of any kind. Relationship expert, Dr Alice Boyes, Psychologist suggests we list our negative thoughts or reactions and when they come up again we replace the thought for ourselves with a third person. It would look something like this.. Rather that hearing "You are a failure", you would replace the statement with an observation..."Oh there goes Susie again, she things I am a failure, but I know I am (replace with whatever positive truth you would like)." In this way we take out the emotion and allow ourselves to replace it with a thought is more rational and purposeful.
Another approach to derail the automatic emotional response is to immediately begin to "distract" the pattern by walking through a familiar process that brings you peace. For example, let's say you hear yourself thinking about how you feel disgusted with your late night eating and you start to berate yourself for having no will power. The moment you hear that, say to yourself "My emotions are lying to me", and then start to walk yourself through a process of something you love. Imagine every detail of the process. For me, I like to think about putting on my running shoes and going starting a run. I have to think through every step of opening up the laces, getting on my sock, sliding my foot in, tightening up each level, tying the bow and then the double knot...and so on. Once you get about half-way into the process, you will likely notice your emotional response has waned, and you can begin to think differently or react more rationally to your situation.
This may not work every time, but with practice, it can help get you started with changing you negative emotions so you can be empowered to create positive change!