Thoughts are tightness tied to what is being felt and what is being done. That is to say, the most concrete consequences we can experience in our lives, which could become the motives that, at certain moments, push us to seek help for our psychological suffering.
Every emotion and every behavior corresponds to the thoughts that originated them. Seeing these mental events, understanding it and learning how to handle them, discussing them, checking them (i.e. not taking them for granted) involves a change in what you are trying and in what you do. What would happen if our student friend had thought: “Yes, the exam might also go wrong … but would it really be so terrible? What could really happen to me? Give up and go home would be however a failure?” Would she have the same degree of anxiety?
The goal is to move from automatic and passive suffering to a greater awareness of what we live and how we act. Coming to question beliefs about ourselves, others and the world that are more hidden, deep, but constantly echoing in our daily lives.
It is not easy to make this journey alone on our own, but it is an exploration that is worth trying, so that we can reach the center of our fears and from there start out with greater serenity and awareness. To regain life, step by step.
What we think in a given circumstance is directly responsible for how we feel and what we do? By the term “thought”, we mean, in this case, all that goes through our heads in evaluating a situation. From this reading depends largely on what we will experience in that circumstance and how we can (re) act in that context.
When you are happy, why are you happy? We feel happiness when we find something beautiful happened to us. And the behaviors we can take will reflect this assessment. Could it be the same for emotions that we find in negative, such as anxiety, sadness, anger?
Of course, yes! Inevitably, the way we see and judge the reality and what happens to us leads us to experiment with congruent emotional reactions. Simplifying: If we feel anxious, it is because we estimate that there is something alarm us. If we feel sad, it is because we estimate the situation we are in an extremely bad way.
Below lower, below the surface of automatic thoughts, we find another level, that of “intermediate beliefs”. It is roughly a series of assumptions, rules, and attitudes that more or less explicit derive directly from the basic beliefs and dictate the editorial line of more superficial thoughts. Which in turn determines what we feel and how we act.
Intermediate beliefs, simplifying, can be seen as a series of conditions of the type “if … then …”, which connect our deeper fears by reading the situation in which we are at that moment. If that girl refuses me then it means, I’m sucking (and no one can love me). If I cannot do this well then it means, I cannot do anything (and I’m a failure). If I do not react to this overwhelming, then it means that others can take advantage of me (and are vulnerable).
These conditions also decline in attitudes, conduct, behavioral rules (right and wrong) that guide people’s lives very concretely. And just as automated thoughts are “backed up” to intermediate beliefs, the latter decline from the basic beliefs that each of us has and which often prove to be overly rigid, hyper-generalized and global, but above all fundamentally wrong. Bored ideas that can unfortunately have very real consequences.