It’s Not What Happens, It’s Our Thoughts About What Happens

It’s Not What Happens, It’s Our Thoughts About What Happens

THE FOUR TYPES OF THOUGHT

How can a simple event in our lives trigger a chain-reaction of thoughts that end up with us feeling desperately unhappy and emotionally disturbed? 

The example below explains the four types of cognition we experience and how they affect us. 

THOUGHT TYPE 1 – DESCRIPTION

This is purely factual and emotionally harmless e.g. 

‘I haven’t had a birthday card from my friend.’ 

THOUGHT TYPE 2 – INTERPRETATION

Again, this thought is emotionally harmless. It is not necessarily true, but is based on interpretation of the facts available e.g. 

‘It might be stuck in the post.’ 

THOUGHT TYPE 3 – INFERENCE

This thought is not rational and probably not factual. The emotions are starting to be engaged and we’re preparing ourselves to be disturbed e.g. 

‘But her cards always arrive early. Maybe she hasn’t sent me a card because she doesn’t like me anymore and has dumped me as a friend.’ 

THOUGHT TYPE 4 – EVALUATION

This type of thought is irrational, unhelpful and emotionally harmful. We are setting ourselves  to be disturbed e.g. 

‘If she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore I couldn’t bear it because it would mean that I’m a loser who no-one likes.’  

When the evaluation thought is active the situation can quickly spiral out of control as other physical and mental consequences manifest themselves e.g. negative images, negative self-talk, tightness in the stomach etc. 

In this state, we’re most likely to perform unwanted and unhelpful behaviours such as drinking, smoking, binge-eating and even physical self-abuse. 

This example shows how a perfectly harmless event can quickly kick-start a harmful and upsetting thought process which in turn generates unwanted symptoms and behaviours. 

It is really helpful to be aware of what you are thinking and how those thoughts are affecting you. Remember, we can’t control what happens, but we can control our thoughts about what happens.

Brett Hindson BA (Hons) D.Hyp PDCBHyp MBSCH 

Brett who trained at the London College of Clinical Hypnosis, is a cognitive hypnotherapist and a member of both the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis and the British Institute of Hypnotherapy.