And nothing does more to keep you down, hold you back and prevent your prosperity than getting mired in a stale thought pattern. It's the ultimate limiting belief, because it precludes most possibility thinking. And probably unhealthy. And probably unhappy. They think exactly like their parents thought, who thought exactly like their parents thought, and this cycle has go on sometimes for decades.
Can You Unlearn Negative Habitual Thinking?
In other words, we are unconsciously driven by how we think, and how we think determines the feelings and opinions we develops toward people, objects and situations. But such opinions and perceptions only distort reality, and unfortunately, we cannot help but interpret reality through self-centered thinking. For example, when we find ourselves in an unsatisfactory situation, we feel angry. We characterize the experience as bad. But each thought we have also presents an opportunity for change, since every thought is independent and rootless, being empty in nature. Each thought arises and dissolves simultaneously. The so-called habitual tendency or unconscious mode of mind functioning refers to the fact that the mind becomes preoccupied by certain thoughts.
This is especially true when we consider those completely subconscious thought patterns that dominate our minds with seemingly little control from us. Change is possible though. The key? Was it really a bad day? Or was it five minutes that you milked all day?
Cognitive behavioral theory draws heavily from stoic philosophers like Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. To me the implication the above quote makes is that when we think a given thought, we add to the pool thoughts that are available when we need to navigate any given situation. When we think about something repetitively, it becomes well-rehearsed and more accessible to us, especially when emotions are strong. In REBT we are in the business of changing unhelpful beliefs so that they better serve the person doing the thinking. We do this most effectively by practicing new and more adaptive beliefs until they become more automatic or accessible than unhelpful beliefs. Imagine you live in a cabin in the woods, and resolve to go for a walk every day. If you take the same path frequently enough, you will wear it down to the dirt and it will become routine.