The brain does not know which thoughts
make you feel “bad” or “good”.
To the brain, thoughts are just electro-chemical pulses used to react to your environment.
There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thoughts.
Unfortunately, though, this means that we have thoughts that make us feel bad
– even if that doesn’t seem to be what we want.
How does this happen?
Your brain created pathways a long time ago
that affect how you see the world
Your first thoughts about the world came from what was around you.
As a child, you probably got the same messages over and over again
For example, if as a child, you grew up in a household
where there was a lot of yelling and fighting, you may have had the thought more than once
that “the world is a negative, angry place”.
It may have even been more subtle, like
“people are easily irritated by me,”
“I’m the reason people are unhappy”.
Each time we have a thought, cells in our brain send ‘pulses’ to each other.
It could look like this:
X – – – – X
The more we were around those people, the more those cells continue to ‘talk to each other’.
X- – – – – – – -X
Since we’re in the same environments over and over again, those cells tend to ‘talk to each other’ a lot.
The brain then starts to ‘invest’ in those pathways by sending white fat to cover the connection between those cells.
That white fat covering (called myeline) makes it so those cells have faster connections and are the first to activate when we are in different situations.
This means that… if, say, you were around really stressed out or angry people growing up…
there’s a good chance you have opinions about yourself based on those stressed out/angry/ depressed/anxious people’s beliefs about life and you.
Because you were around them a lot, you may have these ‘thick connections’
in your brain related to negative thoughts about yourself.
These pathways are not the ‘truth’ about you –
they were just created based on you reacting to the stress/anxiety of other people around you.
When you are really upset, there’s a good chance
you’re having negative thoughts that are coming from the past
– and those ‘thick connections’.
One way to lower the stress that comes from all of that ‘negative’ wiring is to simply be more aware…
you can do that just by asking this question the next time you get really angry or depressed about something:
“is my reaction to this event based 100% on what is happening only in this moment… Or is it possible that part of my reaction comes from stuff that happened before this that makes me think this thing is worse than it is?”