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Emotional Health Minute: Are your automatic thoughts friend or foe?

We all have an inner voice that chimes in, chirps, directs and processes experiences.  An often times damaging aspect of our inner voice are the automatic thoughts Emotional Health Minute(thought+assessment+emotional reaction) that can race by without us being completely aware of them (or their consequences).  The problem is, for those who struggle with excessive worry or poor self concept, these thoughts can be toxic and perpetuate unproductive ways of thinking.  Keep in mind how often your emotional reaction comes on the heels of a thought.

Here are some examples of these types of automatic thoughts and how they can ding you:

  • “I forgot my purse, I’m such an idiot.” (reinforce poor self concept)
  • “She is late, something bad must have happened to her.”  (reinforce general worry/fear)

Automatic thinking is usually shaped by core belief systems and narratives about self, others and the world.  It tends to reinforce the story.  But what if the story is inaccurate?  What if the experiences you had in your family of origin (trauma, quality of parent attachment, criticism, neglect, etc) led to a misunderstanding by your child brain about what it all meant?

In my therapy practice, I help people unpack their pasts to help talk back to and shift unhelpful automatic thinking patterns.  Neuroscience has shown us that just because you were “wired” to react in the way you were, doesn’t mean it can’t be changed.  I teach clients how to do just that.


Skype sessions also available in some cases (CA residents).