The holidays have a tendency to bring with them much more than simply home-cooked meals and dazzling lights.
Often, they entail incredible amounts of stress:
Do I have enough to afford the new iPhone that my daughter wants so badly?
How will we celebrate in light of John’s deployment next week?
Will grandpa make inappropriate jokes in front of the neighbors again?
In his book You Are Not Your Brain (2011), Jeffrey Schwartz addresses our ability to change our patterns of thought, asserting that it is actually possible for an individual to rewire their brain through active choices made on a daily basis.
So often, we operate under stress, driven by deceptive brain messages, cognitive distortions, and maladaptive beliefs that have little grounding in reality. Many of these deceptive messages are wired into our brain when we are very young, before we have adequate insight or understanding of what they mean.
We become wired through family dynamics and subliminally learned messages that we simply never take the time to sift out and reexamine later on. Ultimately our brains, and subsequently our lifestyles, become what we focus on, how we focus on it, and why we choose to focus on it.
Schwartz precisely defines cognitive distortions as any false or inaccurate thought, or any distracting impulse or desire that takes you away from your true goals or true self.
In increasing voluntary conscious emotion regulation, practicing mindful awareness, cognitive therapy, consulting our wise advocate, and attending to where the “inner world meets the outer world,” we have the capability to become aware of what cognitions are distorted, unhealthy, and unhelpful and replace them with positive cognitions.
We have the power to control the depth, method, quality, and breadth of what we choose to focus on.
Through our innate capacity to rewire the very infrastructure of our own brains, we have the ability to change the way we relate to others, the universe, and ourselves entirely.
With enhanced insight, the meaning of greater life purpose and intentionality in our thoughts, Schwartz suggests that we have the power to motivate and empower not only ourselves by changing our own narratives, but assist others in realizing their capacity to alter their life’s narrative by restructuring thought, revaluing inner experiences, rejecting inner brain messages, and experientially realizing our fullest potential.
Here at The Refuge Center for Counseling, our therapists are here to help you navigate these “false or inaccurate” thoughts that take you away from your true self. Call us at 615-591-5262 if you are considering counseling. You are not alone. Our sliding scale fees allow us to serve everyone, regardless of income level.