The Sassy Psychologist: What you think matters... a lot

Have you ever realized what you think about in your ‘in between’ moments? You know, the minutes before, after, and in between the scheduled events on your calendar. As you are cleaning off your desk, what are you thinking? During your commute, what are you thinking? In the shower, what are you thinking? As you are shaving...? As you are brushing your teeth...? As you are making a coffee...? A lot of you might say, “Well nothing. I’m not thinking much while I’m doing any of those things. My brain is actually turned off during those moments.” Well guess again, folks. With some reflection, you might quickly realize that you ARE in fact thinking, and thinking negatively at that. Unfortunately, most of us are thinking negative thoughts or thoughts not conducive to our well-being. Let’s talk.

So c’mon. Think about it and own up. How many of us are taking a shower replaying, in our minds, the meeting that didn’t go well? How many of us are in the car relentlessly planning chores that need to get done immediately? How many of us are blow drying our hair reciting a difficult convo we need to have with the spouse? It should come as no surprise that we often willingly put ourselves into a negative or stressful frame of mind. We are often worrying about a non-existent or unlikely future catastrophe. It is thereby a no-brainer that we should be paying more attention to the things we think in our down time. Why should our thoughts be so chronically unhelpful or negative? Why can’t we go back to fantasizing and daydreaming or simply thinking about things that ARE working out as oppose to the things that aren’t? 

What if I told you that practicing better feeling thoughts can significantly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and can be imperative in enhancing the quality of your life.

You see, your thoughts influence states of minds, emotions, and bodily chemicals. If you can thereby produce better feeling thoughts; better-feeling states of mind, emotions, and chemicals must follow suit. How amazing would it be to influence your own neurochemicals? Um, can anyone say, bye-bye self medication and prescriptions?

By practicing better feeling thoughts, you have the power to change the structure and function of your brain to yield more functional mental processes and behaviours. The scientific notion behind the concept of brain change is something I emphasize a lot and it’s called neuroplasticity ( ). In a nutshell, we have the power to change the structure and function of our brains to facilitate positive states of mind by practicing better feeling thoughts and behaviours on purpose!

So switch it up people! Catch yourself in your negative dialogue and thinking patterns and change the game. When your mind is not occupied doing anything specific, pay attention to your thoughts.  At that point start thinking positively on purpose!  Think about what’s going well, celebrate your accomplishments, emphasize what you are looking forward to. I mean, why not? What do you have to lose? Catastrophizing is distorted and fantasizing might be as equally why not just choose the one that simply feels better?

Anna-Maria Tosco, or our Sassy Psychologist, has two masters degrees in the field of psychology and has studied and worked coast to coast. She has worked in both psychiatric and community settings in some of Montreal's most respected healthcare organizations and institutions, and has also given a variety of talks and workshops on neuroplasticity, meditation, and uncovering barriers to love.