Our thoughts are constantly helping us to
interpret the world around us, describing what’s happening, and trying to make
sense of it by helping us interpret events, sights, sounds, smells, feelings.
Without even realising it, we are interpreting
and giving our own meanings to everything happening around us. We might decide
that something is pleasant or nasty, good or bad, dangerous or safe.
Because of our previous experiences, our
upbringing, our culture, religious beliefs and family values, we may well make
very different interpretations and evaluations of situations than someone else.
These interpretations and meanings we give events and situations, result in
physical and emotional feelings.
Something happens or we notice something, which
triggers a thought. Particular types of thoughts tend to lead to particular
Can be words, an image, a memory, a physical sensation, an
imagined sound, or based on ‘intuition’ – a sense of just ‘knowing’
Believable – we tend to automatically believe our thoughts,
usually not stopping to question their validity. When another driver cuts me
up, I might judge that he’s a selfish thoughtless toad, but in fact, he might
be taking his wife to hospital as she’s about to give birth. Thoughts are not
necessarily true, accurate or helpful.
Are automatic. They just happen, popping into your head and
you often won’t even notice them.
Our thoughts are ours – they can be quite specific to us,
perhaps because of our present or past experience, knowledge, values and
culture, or just for no good reason at all. Some thoughts are so out of
keeping with all those things, and that can make them seem all the more
distressing – because we add some meaning about why we had them (I must be a
Habitual and persistent – our thoughts seem to repeat over and
over, and the more they repeat, the more believable they seem, then they set
off a whole chain of new related thoughts that lead us to feel worse and
worse. They can follow themes, for short periods, or very often, throughout
years and decades.