We’ve all heard the old adage, ‘you are what you eat’, which simply suggests that healthy eating habits foster healthy bodies. In other words, a carrot is much more likely to contribute to our physical well-being than its sugary cousin, carrot cake. Makes sense, right?
Now, let’s apply this same logic to mental health. If we are what we think, how conscious are we about the proverbial food we feed our minds? Our thoughts are the sustenance of our attitudes and beliefs. Our attitudes and beliefs fuel our actions and ultimately influence the outcome of various life situations. A wise Henry Ford quote, “Whether you think you can, or you can’t - you’re right,” emphasizes the magnitude of attitude in determining success or failure. This is great news - what an empowering truth (said the health-conscious thinker!). This means we are not victims of circumstance. Rather, we are the creators of our own truth and experiences in life.
We are literally surrounded by fresh starts and new opportunities to choose positive thoughts. This is always the case but sometimes it is easier said than done. Similar to how choosing the carrot over carrot cake can prove more challenging on a stressful day, it can feel like an ambitious task to deliberately choose positive thoughts in the presence of depression and anxiety. Thankfully, there are tools we can learn and utilize when faced with overwhelming emotions and negative thinking. One such tool is to use coping thoughts, which is a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skill. Sometimes a few encouraging words in the form of a coping thought are all the help you need to redirect negative thinking and find your optimistic stride. Here are a few suggestions:
- “This is an opportunity for me to learn how to cope with my fears.”
- “I’m strong enough to handle what’s happening to me right now.”
- “My thoughts don’t control my life, I do.”
Create a few coping thoughts of your own to jot down on a note card for quick reference when you need a little nudge in a positive direction. Be mindful of the improved feelings of well-being you begin to experience as you deliberately choose positive thoughts with more frequency. Soon, negative thoughts will diminish and you’ll develop an insatiable hunger for positivity … and who knows, maybe even carrots!