That line, I don’t have to believe everything I think, jumped out at me from Elisha Goldstein’s 2010 post on PsychCentral’s Mindfulness & Psychotherapy blog, and it still holds true.
Goldstein writes about a correspondent who, in the past, used to slip (like all of us) “into negative self-speak, hurling slogans at myself that I’ve internalized over the years.”
Now, the correspondent says, “I remember I don’t have to ‘believe everything I think.’ I consider that maybe what I am telling myself is merely conditioned thinking.”
Making better choices
This and other mindfulness practices, such as the body scan (you’ll find an audio of one on my audio page), helps Goldstein’s correspondent to ward off depression and to make better choices in the moment.
By the way, it may seem obvious that you don’t have to believe everything you think – but we keep forgetting this and treat our thoughts with great seriousness as though they have never been mistaken or given us a wrong steer!
As I’ve said elsewhere, our thoughts are not necessarily true and they’re not necessarily important. So remember: I don’t have to believe everything I think.
This extract from the Daily Bell might also help:
In mindfulness, you stop assuming that every thought is important. One way to practise this is to say to say to a thought: You know you’re just a thought? What this does is to take the sting out of the thought and give you space to assess whether it’s worthwhile or not.
Try: Practise this with ‘should’ and ‘must’ thoughts like I should do this, I must do that; say ‘You know what? You’re just a thought’ and this will help you to spot whether it’s useful or not.
For more on being compassionate towards yourself check out my 15-lesson True Friend online course.
Elisha Goldstein’s mindfulness blog.
Image by Elizaveta Korabelnikova