Blackboard with THINK written in multi-colored chalk with thought bubble underneath, with text overlay: T.H.I.N.K. Before You Speak ~ To Yourself

T.H.I.N.K. Before You Speak ~ To Yourself!

How many thoughts do we have in a day? Although nobody seems to be able to nail it down exactly, we know we have thousands of them, conscious and unconscious.

These thoughts turn into our self-talk, telling us what to believe about ourselves and the world around us.

The problem is that our thoughts are not always true, and they’re not always helpful. As Dr. Daniel Amen says in his book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, “You don’t have to believe every thought that goes through your head.”

Man looking in the mirror with text overlay: "Self-talk is the most powerful form of communication because it either empowers you or it defeats you." Wright Thurston

As I talked about in Lessons From the Carrot Patch, too often our thoughts come in the form of ANTs – Automatic Negative Thoughts. When we allow these ANTs to go unchallenged, we can start to believe things about ourselves, others, or situations that just aren’t true.

Over time, these negative thoughts can damage our self-worth, impact our emotional health, and result in chronic stress, which can then cause physical illness. In her book, Switch On Your Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf says, “A chaotic mind filled with uncaptured rogue thoughts of anxiety, worry, and all manner of fear-related emotions sends out the wrong signal right down to the level of the DNA.”

So how do we process those rogue thoughts to ensure they don’t negatively impact our overall wellness?

T.H.I.N.K.

Many of us are probably familiar with the acronym T.H.I.N.K. as it applies to speaking to others, but what if we use it when we speak to ourselves? This could help us filter our thoughts, learn to be kind to ourselves, and recognize when our thoughts are warning us about real danger.

We can ask ourselves these questions to help us process what we’re saying to ourselves through the thoughts we allow:

  • Is it TRUE? Does this thought line up with what I know to be true?
  • Is it HELPFUL?  Is this thought helpful in any way?
  • Is it INSPIRING? Will this thought inspire me to take positive actions, make needed changes, or move me forward in some way?
  • Is it NECESSARY? Do I really need to give this thought any weight or does it need to go in my mental garbage can?
  • Is it KIND? If I accept this thought, am I being kind to myself or others? Too often, we say things to ourselves that we would never say to someone else. We have to learn to speak just as kindly to ourselves as we would to those who are most important to us.

What I’m suggesting here is not just automatically turning a negative thought into a positive one without actually processing it; I’m talking about capturing those rogue thoughts and actually deciding whether to believe them or not.

Is there ever a time when negative thoughts are helpful?

Often we feel we should be positive all the time and that we should never allow a negative thought to garner any of our attention.

Sometimes, though, negative thoughts can serve a vital purpose. For instance, suppose you have a thought, “This person/situation might be dangerous.” When you quickly run it through the T.H.I.N.K. filter, you may find that it’s true, helpful, and necessary. While it might not be inspiring or kind, it could save your life.

We often want to believe the best in people and think we’re just being paranoid when, as my husband says, “our Spidey senses start tingling.” While we can’t just let negative thoughts go unchecked and run roughshod over our health, we do need to at least acknowledge them and test whether they’re something we need to pay attention to.

Finding Balance

While the negative thoughts can serve a purpose, we have to ensure negativity is not our default setting. We have to learn to capture our thoughts, process them, and decide what to do with them.

As Dr. Leaf says in her book, “When you objectively observe your own thinking with the view to capturing rogue thoughts, you in effect direct your attention to stop the negative impact and rewire healthy new circuits into your brain.” Rewiring those healthy new circuits into our brains positively impacts not just our mental/emotional health, but our physical health as well.

How’s your self talk? What have you found helpful in processing your thoughts and making sure your self-talk supports your overall wellness? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

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Woman with drawing of brain filled with gears above her head with text overlay: T.H.I.N.K. Before You Speak ~ To Yourself!

11 comments

  1. Very well said and I could not agree more! I do the best I can to always think before I speak because I always think about how others are feeling. I would never want to hurt anyone else or cause anyone any undo negative feelings. It is so important to think about the way others are going to feel about how we act or treat them!

    1. Thanks for sharing Alyssa! Isn’t it interesting that we try to think about how what we say will affect others but we don’t do the same when we talk to ourselves? I’ve learned from personal experience just how important our self-talk is. I hope you’re staying safe and well sweet friend. Blessings to you!

      1. Yes,it is very interesting! I know I think about everyone else way before I think of myself. Honestly, I end up being the very last person I think of, I even put my cats ahead of myself.

  2. Those tingling spidey senses are worth listening to, but then all thoughts and beliefs should be filtered, especially when they can negatively impact how we’re feeling or how we feel about ourselves. I love the use of the acronym to apply to self-talk. We really can be our own biggest critics a lot of the time, and I think if we’ve been doing it for years we probably get so used to it that we don’t even realise we’re doing it! Another excellent, compassionate post, Terri.xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! I agree with you — I think those critical thoughts do become automatic after a while. Like you said, “we’ve been doing it for years we probably get so used to it that we don’t even realise we’re doing it!” Hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Sending hugs your way!

  3. I’ve never thought about applying the THINK approach to my own thoughts. I’ve definitely used it to help me keep my mouth shut when I was about to say something completely unhelpful. Thanks for sharing this idea.

    1. I’m glad you find it helpful Kit! Running our thoughts through that filter, whether it applies to ourselves or others, can help us stay out of trouble, can’t it?😊 Hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Hugs!

  4. Wow, what an insightful idea to apply the T.H.I.N.K. acronym to our own thoughts, Terri! I will definitely be applying this in my day-to-day life, thank you! It’s true, we really do allow our inner critics to speak to us in ways we never would speak to someone we love. For me, this is a very big struggle. My inner critic is a mean ol’ gal, and she has robbed my peace one too many times.

    I love that you quote Dr. Amen and Dr. Leaf. Both of these brilliant minds share insight worth paying attention to. As Dr. Leaf teaches, we don’t realize how our thoughts really can and do change our very DNA. Anxiety, fear, worry, panic, all forms of negative thoughts/emotions, create a physical reality in our bodies. It’s the powerful mind-body connection we were created with. I can’t even begin to count how many times I allowed my fears/anxieties to be triggered, and then began to experience pain and fatigue in my body. The connection is so very real, and not so silent when we recognize the symptoms.

    No one could have shared this message in the way you have, Terri. You are compassionate, inspirational, and speak right to the heart of the matter. I am grateful you have written about this topic, because we need it now more than ever! Sending my love your way. Thanks for being you! ♥

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Holly! Our inner critics must be twins…. Like you, I have a lot of experience with my thoughts wreaking havoc on both my peace and my body. It’s only over the last few years as I’ve done a lot of reading about the brain that I’ve been able to see what those thoughts do to us and start to rein mine in. That “mean ol’ gal” still gets the best of me sometimes, but I think I’m getting a little better at putting her in her place. Thank you so much for your exceptionally kind words. You are always such an encouragement to me! Sending lots of love and hugs your way!

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