March 31, 2014

The trick to change your thinking

Wayne Dyer once said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Mastin Kipp recently wrote a post about perception in which he profoundly states, “The most important part of life, and the only part of life we can truly control, is our perception.” I believe these guys are onto something. When you change your thinking, major shifts take place in your life.

Just think about this for a moment.

How we perceive our experiences ultimately determines our reality.

Let’s dive in deeper:

Scenario 1: Last Friday morning I woke up to a thunderstorm around 5 am. I was so frustrated when I couldn’t fall back asleep due to the howling wind and thunder. I got annoyed that it wasn’t Saturday, which meant I had to crawl out of my cozy bed and lug myself into work. I was foggy brained and wanted coffee. This irritated me because I don’t normally need a coffee to perk up before work. Coffee in hand, I let my students into the classroom as we complained about the chilly, wet weather as they walked past. In jest, I asked for a show of hands of who would rather still be in bed than at school today. Most hands flew up. The mood was dreary like the sky, and my day didn’t get any better.

In the above scenario, I was looking at my circumstances in a pessimistic, judgmental light. My perception, in turn, determined my reality. Negative perception = negative reality.

Scenario 2: Last Friday morning I woke up the a thunderstorm at 5 am. Gosh, I love the sound of rain on my roof! I quietly rolled over and cuddled my sleeping husband ’til the sun rose. Feeling a bit tired, I suggested to my husband that we get ready quickly and stop by our favorite cafe for coffee before work. I rarely go for coffee during the week, so this change in routine brought me joy. Coffee in hand, I was thankful for the warmth it provided in the blustery, damp weather. I greeted my shivering students with a smile and shuffled them into the classroom. We shared funny stories about our pets’ skittish behavior during the storms and then prayed together, thanking God for the rain. The lighthearted peace I felt in that moment stuck around for the rest of the day. I couldn’t have been more content. 

In this second example, my thoughts were optimistic and upbeat. Positive perception = positive reality.

In both scenarios, the events were the same—Friday morning, thunderstorm, coffee, work, students, conversation. The difference was in my thinking.

Your thoughts manifest your reality. 

I wrote more on this idea here. 

Just like any habit, positive thinking takes time and practice. If you are prone to negativity {especially towards yourself}, it will take conscious effort to break.

When I was in treatment for an eating disorder, I was taught several cognitive behavior strategies for dealing with my distorted thinking. The one I want to share with you is one I still use today, 12 years later!

It’s called CCC. Catch It, Challenge It, Change It!

  1. Catch It: When a negative thought, false belief or irrational truth forms in your mind, catch it in the act. Consciously become aware of what you are thinking and isolate the negative thought.
  2. Challenge It: Stand up to that nasty guy and show him who’s boss. Have an inner dialogue that goes something like No, you are not the truth. You are not helpful. I am okay. I am bigger/stronger/more capable. 
  3. Change It: Change the negativity into an opposite, positive thought. Replace the false belief with truth. A soul truth that lives deep inside of you.

Let’s look at an example {because, hey, who doesn’t like practicality?!}

Your girlfriend calls and invites you to go shopping with her this weekend. On Saturday, you wake up feeling bloated and heavy {gotta love PMS!} You meet your friend anyway and start trying on dresses for your upcoming date night. You look in the mirror and start to feel self-conscious. Water retention isn’t doing your figure any favors and you think Ugh, I look fat in this dress. Gross, I so am ugly. No one would ever want to go out with me. I should cancel my date tonight. I shouldn’t have even come shopping today. 

Whoa, negative thoughts sure snowball fast! So, when the thought starts rolling in, catch it.

Now, that you have isolated the negative thought, challenge it with No, this is not true. I am feeling emotionally fragile because I am about to start my period. I am not fat, I am just bloated. Water retention is a normal symptom of PMS. 

Once you have challenged your false belief, change it into a truth. Speak to yourself in love tones. I am beautiful. I like my eye color. And, ya know what? I always get complimented on my smile. My friend obviously likes spending time with me. She invited me to come today. Hey, I am fun to be around. I’ll have a good time tonight on my date.

Talk to yourself like you talk to your best friend. Be gentle, be kind, be positive.  

Today’s Mantra: When I change my thoughts, I change my reality. 

Action Step: Sometime this week, try my CCC trick when a negative thought surfaces. Come back and share how you went with Catch It, Challenge It, Change It!

Lots of love,


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  1.'Allison Brittle

    Thank you for your posting. I am so afraid of change, it has causes several panic attacks for the past 5 years. I have been working actively on accepting & dealing with change. Thank you so much for sharing this information.
    You are a brilliant & knowledgeable young lady.

    1. Sarah Kate Anderson Post author

      I totally hear you, Allison. Change is scary for many of us. But, there is so much power and freedom when we take that leap (or even baby step) of faith and trust that God has the outcome already purposefully planned. May you be filled with courage this week.


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