Attention Grabbers: A Mental Assessment

Thoughts become things. Choose the good ones.Mike Dooley

Thoughts On Trial (T.O.T.)

Picture yourself in a courtroom. The atmosphere is tense as the attorneys walk in and sit on opposite sides of the room with briefcases packed with evidence. In comes the judge. All rise. The court is brought to order and in session. There are some surprising discoveries. First the judge is you. Who is on trial? Your thoughts. As surreal as this may sound, this reality happens in our minds, where the battle between positive and negative thoughts ensues. Who are the attorneys?

The prosecutor is the voice that gives evidence why your negative thoughts are destructive and should be convicted and eliminated, so they no longer occupy space in the mind. Meanwhile, the defense attorney is the voice that supports the negative thoughts and provides evidence to further consider these thoughts, entertain, and eventually act on them. 

Mental Courtroom 

This mental courtroom we often find ourselves in is neither visible nor accessible to others unless invited through transparency. The courtroom, if not properly handled, can become out of order. A mistrial of thoughts can occur, or worse, a positive thought can be struck down while a negative one is allowed to roam free and cause damage to our lives.

Thoughts and Life 

What makes thoughts directly proportional to our quality of life? Thoughts are akin to seeds. They are planted in the mind through various means. Our daily exposure is one of these means. A recent article in the BBC reflected how exposure to news affects how we think and ultimately behave. As humans, we are prone to give more attention to the worst of things happening around us. This psychological concept known as “negative bias” can be further perpetuated by the news coverage we have access to throughout the day. The article highlights the detrimental effect this constant exposure has on us mentally. Here is an excerpt from the article:

It turns out that news coverage is far more than a benign source of facts. From our attitudes to immigrants to the content of our dreams, it can sneak into our subconscious and meddle with our lives in surprising ways. It can lead us to miscalculate certain risks, shape our views of foreign countries, and possibly influence the health of entire economies.  It can increase our risk of developing post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression. Now there’s emerging evidence that the emotional fallout of news coverage can even affect our physical health – increasing our chances of having a heart attack or developing health problems years later.

When one news outlet decided to report good news only, it lost two-thirds of its readership. This further supports our tendency to cling to the negative and highlights our need for intentionality in building positive thoughts. 

A Mental Assessment

What is the process for performing a mental assessment with the aim of striking down negative thoughts while fertilizing the positive ones, so they grow into actionable and transformative decisions? 

Start With Evidence

In a courtroom, the evidence presented is primarily gathered through witnesses. A similar approach is required when sorting out and sifting through your thoughts. Through retrospection, honesty, and transparency, we can greatly improve our chances of choosing positive thoughts over the toxic ones. 

Watch For Toxic Thoughts 

Mental toxicity rises when unsupported evidence causes pernicious thoughts to drive our decisions and actions. This court of the mind became real to me recently. I reached out to a close friend on Whatsapp to check on them. His response was unexpected. The news he shared was too difficult to grasp. As I pondered his reply, the thought that maybe his phone had been hacked came to mind. As I considered this thought, I found evidence. Remembering that Whatsapp was hacked and forcefully shutdown for a few hours, I found reason to believe what I thought. This noxious thought took root and stifled the kindness and concern I had to reach out to him until my wife confirmed what he told me. I confessed to my friend and apologized to him for my silence and not being there for him. Toxic thoughts form easily and with a speed that rivals technological advancements taking place today.

Build Positive Thoughts

Toxic thoughts need not rule our lives. We can build and act on healthy thoughts. Again, we must apply evidence. The main pool of evidence is our relationships. In the same way, my wife provided evidence that freed me from the toxic thought, we must find witnesses in our courtroom of thought to help strike down the baneful and raise up positive thoughts. In doing so, we act in healthy ways towards others. 

Who in your circle do you confide in about your thoughts? You don’t need to have many. But you need someone who will encourage and challenge your thoughts depending on their positivity or toxicity rate. We all have dormant thoughts, waiting to come alive upon exposure to external triggers. Have you ever wondered, “Where did this thought come from?” A better question is, “What is the probable effect of this thought if acted upon?” 

Such retrospective questions keep the intentionality of conceiving and growing positive thoughts in the womb of your mind a priority. Soon enough, this births a higher quality of life through constructive decisions and actions. 

Final Thought: A mental assessment is necessitated when the courtroom of mind is in session, and the battle between positive thoughts leading to a constructive future and negative thoughts bringing destruction is on the docket. By applying evidence properly and using our relationships to safeguard against toxic thoughts, we can build a bastion for healthy thoughts. 

Keep on keeping on!

Notes

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200512-how-the-news-changes-the-way-we-think-and-behave

3 Comments

  1. Hey this is a really good approach! I have suffered terribly in my life from negative thinking. I learned how to challenge it but you make a very clear metaphor here in your post to help imagine the process.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was in therapy doing a lot of challenging work on the negative thinking. My therapist would question me on every bad thing I had to say. The day I found myself defending Hitler in order to prove I am a worse person than he was, was the day I realized I needed to change my ways. Basically I question every negative thought and pose more realistic or useful alternatives.

        Like

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