You are so much more than your thoughts.

Friday, November 1st 2019 | Dr. Pamela Corey, C.Psych.

How many times has this happened to you:

You have a thought or an urge to do something but you don’t actually follow through

Right off the bat you might assume this doesn’t happen too often, but let me ask you:

How many times have you had an angry/violent thought while experiencing road rage but not acted on it?

How many times have you thought “I should go work on that assignment” but instead stayed on the couch and watched Netflix?

How many times have you reacted to something someone said with a thought like “that doesn’t make any sense” or “they stuttered on a word” but you don’t actually say it?

How many times have you stood on a balcony and had a scary image or thought of jumping off but not actually jumped?

My guess is you can count many times that the above happened…and many more instances where you had a thought and did NOT act on it.

So, when we know this so plainly, why do we sometimes assume that thought = action?

Thought-action fusion is when we equate thoughts with behaviours. We assume that because we are thinking something, we are either a) going to do it or b) more likely to do it.

This is hardest for us when a thought is disturbing and goes against who we are. For example, if you consider yourself a gentle person but you have a thought of harming someone.

Many times thoughts and actions go together, but piles of documented research and evidence suggest that just having a thought is not nearly enough for action to take place.

We pay so much attention to our thoughts. We put so much weight on them, assuming that they are a reflection of what we will do, who we are, or that they will decide our future. This is understandable, since there are many times that our thoughts help us solve everyday problems (“I forgot a pencil so I will ask a friend to borrow one”).

But the reality is, our mind is a word machine, generating up to 80 000 thoughts a day! Statistically speaking, it isn’t possible for all 80 000 of our thoughts to be accurate and meaningful. Many of our thoughts are not important. They do not indicate action and they certainly do not define who we are.

Plus, many of our thoughts are thoughts we’ve had before. That’s because our neurons tends to fire in the same way, and in the same scenarios. Our brain is in many ways, a hamster wheel. That’s why it can be so difficult to change our thought patterns!

So, the next time you have a thought that makes you worry you will do something, stop and take a breath.

Remind yourself that thoughts are just thoughts. They don’t always need special attention or interpretation.

They don’t equal action, and they most definitely don’t define you.

You are so much more than your thoughts.