Thoughts + Action = Change

Did you know that your thoughts have a direct impact on your feelings which then influence your actions?

CBT cycle pic

If your thoughts are self -affirming, rational and positive then you feel capable and happy which leads to healthy and balanced life choices. If your thoughts are negative and self-defeating then you feel stunted even incapable which leads to unhealthy and self-defeating life choices.

If this negative thinking is not interrupted it can lead to a person being caught in a viscous negative cycle where the negative thoughts, feelings and actions feed continued negativity. This negative cycle applies to all areas of life including healthy living and exercise.

Here’s an example of negative thinking:

An individual gained weight over the holidays and has these thoughts. ” I am so fat and unattractive. I have no control over my eating. I’ll never reach my ideal weight”.

In this example you can see how the individual’s negative thoughts do nothing but make that person feel bad leading to self- defeating actions. If a person feels ugly and powerless will he/she go to the gym or eat healthier food/portions? No! This person will cancel plans to go to the gym and will head right to the ice cream container.

Here’s an example of healthier realistic thinking:

“Ok I gained some weight and I don’t feel great. I know I have the skills to manage this and I will get back on track. I am strong enough to do this and if I get stuck I will join that small group workout session that will help to motivate me.”

In this example the individual acknowledges reality and does not ignore that he/she is not thrilled about it, but instead of calling him/herself names the person has self-affirming and motivating thoughts that are realistic. This person is not only more likely to get back on track but will likely start right then and there.

The good news – taking things one step at a time, you can change your thoughts and practice new skills to influence your actions!

by Heidi Woods who owns a private practice in Ellicott City where she works with children, adolescents and adults using Cognitive Behavior Therapy to help create a balanced, healthy life.  If you’d like to contact Heidi, email her at or call her at (443) 791-2308.

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