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How an Automatic Thought can totally rule your brain

Date: April 4th, 2013
By: Polly Bath

Watch this video [2:33] if you think your Automatic Thoughts can’t totally dominate your actions. To manage a kid’s behavior, you first must have control over your own head.

When I see a kid in the hallway with headphones on, which are against the rules, and I tell him to take them off and he looks at me like I’m nobody—I have an Automatic Thought about that child. It’s not a very nice one.

Certain perceptions get wired to certain Automatic Thoughts. So to change one that might be getting in my way, I’ve got to change how I’m perceiving things.

Here’s an everyday example of the power of Automatic Thought on our behavior.

Let’s say you’re driving along, having a good day. It’s starting to get dark outside, a little snowy, a little ice on the road. As you’re going along, what happens behind you?

The dreaded tailgater.

Think about what happens to your Automatic Thought process as that person gets closer and closer to your bumper.

What do you start doing?

You start getting into a power struggle and you don’t even know it.

Your Automatic Thought about that person is… well, let’s just say you have some choice names for them.

Now, think about your behavior and what happens. You start to be totally impacted to the point that you can’t even pay attention anymore! You start looking in the mirror thinking, “What’s he going to do? What’s he going to do?”

And, then you start thinking, “What am I going to do about this?”

You’ve got a bag of behaviors that you reach into. We know what those behaviors are. Maybe you’ll be passive, just go really slow and make them go slow. Or maybe you slam on the brakes, maybe even cause an accident. You’d rather do that then let them get around you, right? THAT is when you’ve let your Automatic Thought take over your perception of what is really happening.

The person behind you may have no idea what they’re doing.

Or maybe they do.

Does it really matter?

But if you can change your perception about that tailgater, you won’t run into that power struggle, because when you change your perception, your Automatic Thought changes.

And then you can just drive along and continue having a pretty good day.

Now, getting back to my kid in the hallway with headphones who just looked at me like I was a nobody…just as I needed to do with that tailgater, I need to check my Automatic Thought before I respond to him.

Click on my video above for more.