Thoughts are real and what you focus on expands. With this in mind, it makes sense to figure out a way to analyze your thoughts and slowly change the way you think to improve all aspects of your life.
Some of the trickiest thoughts to deal with are irrational thoughts. These are thoughts that are not grounded in reality. They are dangerous because if you don't recognize that these thoughts are irrational, you might start believing them.
It's usually easy to spot irrational thoughts when someone else has them. You can bring an external, objective point of view to other people's thoughts. When the thoughts are yours, however, all bets are off.
Dr. Phil provides a simple framework to analyze your own thoughts to determine whether they are rational. In order for a thought to be rational, it has to meet these four criteria:
- Is it true? Is it based on verifiable fact?
- Is it in your best interest?
- Does it protect and prolong your life?
- Does it get you closer to what you really want?
If a thought doesn't pass all four criteria, it is not a rational thought.
Think about the thoughts you have on a daily basis. Are they rational thoughts based on these criteria? If not, consider why you are thinking these thoughts and re-frame your thoughts to be rational. This is not easy, but it's a worthwhile exercise.