Change your thoughts to change how you feel

Our emotions don't come from nowhere. Rather, they are intimately connected to our thoughts.

Person looking at their phone

Our emotions don't just happen sporadically. If this were true we would be happy one minute, sad the next, angry for a few minutes and then maybe anxious for another few minutes. This is generally not how we experience emotions. Our emotions are not sporadic; rather, they are intimately connected to our thoughts. In other words, our thoughts determine our feelings.

When we think about good things we feel happy. When we think about bad things we feel sad. When we think someone is taking advantage of us we feel angry. When we think that we will miss the last bus home we feel anxious.

Many mental health problems are problems with emotions. These include depression, anxiety, overpowering anger and low self-esteem.

Learning how to identify unhelpful thoughts and how to change them into helpful ones are essential skills for good mental health.

Unhelpful thoughts are often unrealistic ones. We call these "cognitive distortions." These thoughts can occur on several levels ranging from automatic thoughts to deeply held core beliefs.

You can challenge and change unhelpful, dysfunctional thoughts into realistic, helpful ones using the cognitive therapy (CT) approach. A central technique in CT is cognitive restructuring, where you identify problematic thoughts, examine them, and then restructure them into more helpful thoughts.

Learn more about cognitive therapy



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