Constructive thoughts help you rewire thinking because they're valid regardless of your current emotional, mental, or physical situation. They are the real deal. Truths are outside the black-and-white, good-and-bad polarization that characterizes destructive thoughts. They reflect what we naturally know when we're not under the influence of unexpressed sadness, anger, and fear.
For example, "Everything is all right" is a truth, even though you might not feel it's true if you've just found out about your husband's illicit affair with a neighbor. Truths are in line with the three ultimate attitudes we want to live by: honor yourself, accept people and situations, and stay present and specific. It may take work to calm down enough to think clearly, but your trusted 'truths' will be there to help.
Affirmations vs. Truths
As will become clear, a truth is not necessarily the exact opposite of what you're used to telling yourself. When you do something you regret, for example, you might automatically tell yourself, "I'm a loser." The accurate opposing statement is not "I'm a winner." More accurate is, "Making mistakes is human," which goes beyond the loser/winner dichotomy. This statement reflects what's really true.
Other possible alternatives could be: "Life is for learning," 'We all make mistakes," or "I did the best I could at the time."
Truths differ from "affirmations," because truths are undeniably true. Affirmations are often simply desires or ideals that we wish were true. Examples of affirmations are:
* I am rich and thin.
* I see only peace and love around me.
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* I am over the fear that I never have enough.
Truths give you unfailing support. They'll be there to back you up when the chips are down, and you're curled up on the bathroom floor with your heart in pieces. They're more effective than affirmations because they speak what is true and real, and what we know deep inside of us when we're clear and centered.
I see truths as potent medicines, each one an effective remedy for a different mental ailment. Just as a physician diagnoses a particular ailment and prescribes a medication, you too can select a truth and heal your nonproductive thoughts. After one remedy does its healing job, you will most likely find another destructive thought that calls for a different prescription. With practice, you can successfully "heal thyself."
Reliable Truths Oppose Destructive Thinking
Are you ready to select some helpful truths? Here's how: Write down a list of your most recurring negative comments. The ones you never seem to leave home without.
To free yourself from your old tapes, you'll need effective contradictions for each. There are two ways to find replacements: either select generic "reliable truths" that oppose your destructive thinking, or construct your own truths. I'll go over them one at a time.
Recognizing your current emotional state and where your attention is focused, makes it a lot easier to identify the kinds of truths that'll be most useful. As you will see, there are three groups of reliable truths:
(1) truths about yourself that help you move from sadness to joy,
(2) truths about other people and situations that help you move from anger to love, and
(3) truths about time that help you move from fear to peace.
Reliable Truths to Move from Sadness to Joy
Reliable truths to honor yourself and move from sadness to joy:
* I am whole and complete.
* What I'm seeking is within me.
* My job is to take care of myself.
* I am alone, and I am connected.
* I love myself regardless of what I do.
* Life is for learning. We all make mistakes.
* I'm doing the best I can. I did the best I could.
* If I knew then what I know now, I'd have done it differently.
* My viewpoints and needs are as valid as yours.
* I am responsible for what I think, feel, and do.
* I can do this.
Reliable Truths to Move from Anger to Love
Reliable truths to accept people and situations and move from anger to love:
* People and things are the way they are, not the way I want them to be.
* That's the way it is.
* My job is to feel more love.
* My focus is myself.
* What he/she thinks of me is none of my business.
* He is doing the best he can. She did the best she could.
* We are all on our own paths.
* We are the same. We are all connected.
* I wish you well.
* Your viewpoints and needs are as important as mine.
* We can handle this together.
Reliable Truths to Move from Fear to Peace
Reliable truths to stay present and specific and move from fear to peace:
* Everything is all right. Everything will be all right.
* This feeling is temporary. This situation will pass.
* Stop. Breathe. Slow down. Be here now.
* Stay specific.
* One thing at a time.
* I'll handle the future in the future.
* My actions have consequences.
* I'll do what I can, and the rest is out of my hands.
* Everything is unfolding in its own time.
* Let go.
* We'll see.
Having reliable truths geared to each of the three pairs of emotions will give you a well-stocked arsenal to battle your barrage of destructive thoughts. Look at the list of truths and choose two or three from each category that strike a chord with you.
Powering Requires Tenacity and Vigilance
To make a truth an integral part of your mental repertoire, you must saturate yourself with it by “powering”. Powering requires gentle but tenacious repetition of your chosen truths while vigilantly ignoring any distractions. Say them with genuine feeling and with an intense desire to know their meaning. The more consistently you interrupt the old and repeat the new, the sooner you’ll own it.
Power anytime, anywhere, out loud or silently. Powering can accompany daily routines and mundane tasks, such as driving, vacuuming, shaving or waiting in line. You can power while walking your dog or working out. Power in the shower. Power when you can’t sleep at night. It’s more effective than counting sheep!
Reprinted with permission of the author.
©2011 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T. All Rights Reserved.
Publisher: Riviera Press, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
About the Author
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Word spread about the success of Attitude Reconstruction, and it wasn’t long before Jude became a sought-after workshop and seminar leader, teaching her approach to organizations and groups. Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/
Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace