“Don’t believe everything you think ”
Thoughts come to us spontaneously, unbidden, and sometimes unwanted.
One of the essential lessons that I have learned over my 25 years of recovery from Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism is that my first thought is usually distorted, inaccurate, or misguided in some way, as it is usually viscerally driven and coming from my Reptile brain.
My “automatic” thoughts tend to be impulsive, rooted in the “fight or flight” dichotomy, and/or based on my toxic indoctrination as a child.
The first strong adaptive coping mechanism with which I was blessed by a wonderful therapist back in 1993 is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is still one of my primary coping mechanisms. When a thought enters my brain, I have learned to consider it, and if it is distorted or harmful to others or to me, to replace it with a healthy, spiritually fit thought.
Obviously, it would be humanly impossible to use CBT 100% of the time. And it is not effective or recommended if one is in the midst of a drastic emergency. But over my 25 years of recovery, in situations that aren’t dire or drastic (which 51 years of life have taught me are a small percentage of our time on Earth), CBT has saved me from thousands upon thousands of hours of miserable ruminations, self-shaming, and distorted views of the world and me; harming others emotionally and financially the way I often did before recovery, and self-destructive acts.
In AA we say, “80% of what goes on in your head is for entertainment purposes only.”