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Turning black thoughts into a different colour. Wednesday May 29, 2013

Recently, I did a course in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, as it's often known. One of the most useful things I learned was about patterns of thinking. Until then, I'd assumed there was nothing I could do change my thinking; my thoughts controlled me, rather than the other way round. What I discovered is that actually, the opposite is true – our thoughts control us, or more specifically, our moods, and if we change the way we think, then, eventually, our moods can change too.

It can be hard to grasp that thoughts and emotions are something we have power over, so to help explain, permit me to use this analogy. Several years ago, I had my 'colours done'. I wanted to know if the clothes I was wearing suited me, and friends advised having my 'colours done' would reveal if this was true.

So I spent an afternoon with a lady who wrapped me, at great speed, in various coloured scarves, to ascertain which did most for my skin tone and hair. Prior to this, I'd always worn black. Many of us have clothes we especially like; shoes we wear daily, jeans we live in, t-shirts that are almost welded to our chests. An afternoon with the scarf-wrapping lady revealed that black, in fact, did nothing for me, and when she draped me in alternative shades, I could see that bottle green and brown suit me far more.

It's no coincidence that it took someone else to help me appreciate this. Because I'd got trapped in black thinking, I couldn't see a different way.

So today, instead of choosing thoughts that are negative, allow yourself, for a second, to consider there may be a positive option. Rather than 'I'm going to have a rubbish day', you could venture to think 'today might be OK after all' for instance. Sometimes it feels like there's no alternative, but trust me, there often is.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Anonymous Wed, May 29th 2013 @ 11:48am

Well said. But please, would whoever is writing let us know who they are. Especially when there are so many writers I would enjoy knowing whose perspective I am enjoying. -- Mya

Sarah Wed, May 29th 2013 @ 11:52am

It does say at the bottom of the email Mya, though not on the blog. It was me, Sarah - this is my third post for Moodscope. If you want to know who I am, this is my website:

Anonymous Wed, May 29th 2013 @ 1:02pm

Dear Sarah.It is a lovely post but if you look at the first paragraph it does not make sense as you claim the opposite is the same as the original thought.

Caroline Ashcroft Wed, May 29th 2013 @ 4:00pm

Hi Mya, we'll be signing them off with the author's name as from tomorrow.

Sarah Wed, May 29th 2013 @ 4:41pm

You're quite right, Anonymous! You know what's frustrating? My husband read my draft, pointed out I'd got this wrong, and I amended the last sentence of the first para to this:

"What I discovered is that actually, the opposite is true – we can influence our thoughts, or more specifically, our moods, and if we change the way we think, then, eventually, our moods can change too."

... but then I sent Caroline at Moodscope the original by mistake. I can only say I do find the concept a tricky one, clearly!

Diana Wed, May 29th 2013 @ 5:01pm

Especially - for some reason when trying to get to sleep, or awake in the middle of the night - one 'negative thought' seems to follow another, so gloom drags one into the abyss...
Maybe it's just harder to be analytical ( i.e. in C.B.T. 'mode' ) when half asleep ?

Julia Wed, May 29th 2013 @ 5:39pm

Yes I agree with you Diana. It is so difficult to think positively when you are exhausted from yet another bad night and especially as you say when you are awake in the middle of the night..I suppose one has to persevere with the positivity and eventually one's mood might just change? I am going to try again to change the way I think (after a lifetime of thinking the same way though! I wonder if it's possible)

Courtney Wed, May 29th 2013 @ 7:39pm

I think it is important to remember that the underlying idea behind cbt and shifting our thoughts is not to replace a negative thought with a positive one, but a realistic one. State the facts, and be aware that although our feelings are real, our feelings are not facts.

julia Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 7:55am

Thanks Courtney. Your words are very helpful

Unknown Fri, May 31st 2013 @ 3:01am

I wish people wouldn't always use "black" as a negative. It's hurtful to Black people.

You can say it's not meant that way -- but why not just choose a different, less loaded, word ? At least be aware of the connotations of what you're saying.

People used to say "that's mighty white of you" to mean "good & just". Now that phrase means the opposite to everyone except to nazi skinheads. : )

Beth in Canada

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