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Thoughts are not facts

I like the computer metaphors for the mind and its contents.


It's easier to see things as they really are if you see thoughts simply as ‘outputs’ from your internal PC (AKA the mind). Your mind is a part of your body like your heart, lungs and liver, but it's job is to help you plan and remember and interact. The 'narrative' of your own thoughts are just your mind's outputs based on your individual learning history. In therapy you will see that most of the thoughts and feelings that might be causing you problems are ripples from earlier times in your life and it is completely possible to wire in more helpful reactions to situations.


Here are some examples of ways of thinking about the mind:


  1. Thoughts are not facts – they are just outputs. Most of the thoughts you have never happen and are not accurate or helpful. Even in a very stressful situation this is still true.

  2. Mark Twain said 'I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.' This is a fantastic statement which sums up how much wasted energy we can spend on worries which go nowhere and turn out to mean nothing.

  3. Imagine your attention is like a camera. Think of being able to ‘zoom in’ and ‘zoom out’ of a stressful situation. This helps with perspective taking.

  4. Just because it feels awful doesn’t mean it is awful. In CBT we teach that the mind has a number of ‘thinking errors’ that lead us off track.

  5. This is a brilliant clip by psychologist Russ Harris, who has created a series of You Tube clips illustrating how our thoughts are nothing more than noise which we can learn to tune out from if they are not helpful.


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