Nicole Iacovoni, LCSW, Founder & Executive Clinician at Willow Tree Wellness & Counseling, LLC, Bloomsburg, PA
When we look around at the world we live in, it becomes easy to feel constantly annoyed and angry. After all, life presents many challenges on a daily basis. The speedster that darts in front of you and steals your parking spot, the guy in front of you that lets the door slam in your face instead of holding it open for you, or the teenager who lives next door blaring their music at midnight are all examples of reasons to be perpetually angry. Or are they?
There are two ways to look at virtually any situation. One is the violent way, and one is the peaceful way. We have the power and the ability to choose how we perceive the world and can readily perceive the peaceful side of life. How is this possible, you ask? The answer is simple, but the means of accomplishing the goal is more of an obstacle to overcome.
If we want to perceive the world as more pleasant and rid ourselves of anger and frustration, we must change the way we think about the world. The brain is the control center of the human body, which allows you to govern your own emotions. You are in charge of your emotions; they are not in charge of you. However, if you want to live a happy life, you can’t react with anger whenever someone else decides to behave in an angry, vindictive, or inconsiderate way. You must take charge by shifting your perceptions, which in turn, will shift your feelings and your behaviors.
The concept of changing the way you think, feel, and behave is the whole premise behind cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a relatively brief mode of treatment, ranging between 10-20 hours and works to help people think differently about the events that take place in their lives. Most of the time, we believe things about ourselves and the people around us because we have good evidence for those beliefs. Yet, we are often very selective in the evidence we focus on, or what we believe to be fact. It is because of the tendency to gravitate toward the negative that leads us to be controlled by our emotions, and leads to an unpleasant experience of the world.
Today, challenge your own beliefs. Question the automatic thoughts that come to mind. Rather than allowing your emotions to control you and your life experience, take the reins and view the world through a peaceful lense. Take a close look at the evidence that has been supporting your assumptions and see if it is unbiased. Chances are, you will find that what you have been believing all along makes no sense at all. If you try shifting your thoughts and don’t succeed, you might try working with a cognitive behavioral therapist. The brief investment yields a high payoff: happiness.