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Can you change your reality by changing your thoughts?

There exists an idea in popular culture that you become what you focus on. This belief is often based on the concept of the law of attraction or similar concepts, which will postulate that" like attracts like" and that your "thoughts and beliefs shape your reality". According to this theory, if you focus your thoughts and energy on positive things, you will attract positive experiences and outcomes into your life. On the other hand, if you focus on negative thoughts and experiences, you will attract more negativity into your life. There is some evidence to suggest that focusing on positive thoughts and experiences can have a positive impact on mental health and well-being, and that focusing on negative thoughts and experiences can have the opposite effect. Although there can be some merit to this, the idea is not universally accepted and there is limited scientific evidence to support it. If it were wholly true we wouldn't really need Psychologists or a billion dollar self-help industry.

Perhaps there is a balance? At NU Psychology we use the principles of Positive Psychology and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to support individuals in exploring personal meaning and values to align actions and behaviours towards such. Although the idea of "becoming what we focus on" isn't linear ie. "thoughts create our reality", we can shift our actions and thoughts towards the things that really matter to us. This may not completely change our reality but it can change our experience of it. When we become aware of our thoughts and emotions as well as the underlying need behind them, we can learn to communicate in different ways and shift through negative states in a more adaptive manner. This can look like "Oh I'm having that negative thought, I wonder what it's trying to tell me"? We support individuals to get curious about their thoughts and what is possible to change.

It is important to note that everyone has negative thoughts and experiences from time to time, and that it is normal to experience difficult situations and emotions. The key is to recognize and manage these negative experiences in a healthy and productive way, rather than becoming overly focused on them. Giving our negative thoughts some time can provide helpful clues in what we want to change or things that are not working and the idea of having only positive thoughts or experiences can lead to an unrealistic and unhealthy way of being. This mentality can cause judgement on normal human emotions. While focusing on positive thoughts and experiences can have a positive impact on well-being, it is important to maintain a balanced and realistic perspective and to recognize that life is not always easy or positive.

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