Our Thoughts Are Not Facts

In CBT we modify or replace negative thoughts to help improve our moods and how we feel. But aren’t our thoughts important? How can we just change them? Shouldn’t we pay attention to them and listen to what they say?

It is important to be aware of what we’re thinking. But we need to recognize that most of our thoughts are not facts. They are just our own subjective interpretations of the world, what we’re experiencing, how we’re feeling, and so on.

So when we dispute and modify or replace our thoughts in CBT, we’re not altering facts or denying reality. We’re not trying to make ourselves believe things that aren’t true. We’re simply looking at things from a different perspective, and reframing how we understand situations and subjective experiences. And this is very helpful when we’re depressed. Since our negative thoughts contribute so much to our depression, when we change or replace these thoughts to make them less negative, we start to feel better.

On the other hand, when we’re mindful of our thoughts, we don’t try to modify our thinking. Instead we acknowledge our thoughts, and then, if those thoughts aren’t related to what we’re doing at the time, we just let them go. And so if we start having negative thoughts, there’s no need to give them any special attention. Since these thoughts are not facts, there’s nothing to be gained from dwelling or ruminating on them. We can just allow them to pass into, and then out of our minds, and not let them pull us into vicious cycles or downward spirals.

Thoughts Are Not Facts

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