Influence your mood using objective or subjective thinking
We all have a tendency at times to catastrophise our thoughts, make false assumptions and over-generalise our internal and external statements, often without realising we are doing it. We also have the ability to choose which thoughts are helpful to enable us to achieve our goals.
For example, with public transport, we can choose to catch a certain train or hop on a bus, or not. Similarly, we can choose to engage and explore our thoughts, or take a step back, observe them and let them pass without emotional attachment or having made judgements about ourselves.
We can choose to be subjective in our thinking by giving thoughts emotional attachment by opening them up, really exploring them, and thinking about the consequences and potential outcomes. Conversely, we can choose to notice these thoughts and simply observe them or take a bird’s eye view of them without allowing ourselves to be drawn into our assumptions which may have previously led to negative, associated feelings. Often using first person statements such as “I am now thinking about…“ can be a useful approach that has the ability to objectify thoughts.
A very basic analogy commonly used with my clients is one of having to attend a meeting at work.
Thinking about this event subjectively (like a box that’s opened up) will potentially result in negative internal statements: “I will be out of my depth”, “Everyone else will be confident and I will be found out” etc. As a result of having explored the thought “I have a meeting at work” with full emotional attachment, this can result in feelings of apprehension and anxiety.
Thinking about this event objectively (like a brick that is solid and can’t be opened up) enables the person to simply acknowledge the thought without having to explore what’s involved and without emotional attachment: “I am going to a meeting”, “Yes, I will be at that meeting too.” Allowing ourselves to simply be factual about going to the meeting as opposed to what’s going to happen and how you’re going to perform can be really powerful and help avoid a spiral of self-defeating and negative false assumptions.
We can choose to use subjectivity and objectivity to our advantage. As an opposite approach to negative thoughts, we can view happy events in a subjective way that can evoke positive feelings and happiness.
Through practice and recognition of our positive and negative thinking, we can indeed influence and control mood states by deciding whether we view our thoughts subjectively or objectively. By practising this approach, we can learn to use thoughts to our advantage through full engagement or conversely, by observing them simply as statements, with no further thought required.
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About Matt Hemsley
I became a life coach following a career of over 20 years as a mental health nurse working initially on an acute psychiatric ward and then predominantly in the community. I use psycho-social interventions and am a strong believer in adopting a CBT influenced approach with my clients.