Where do our thoughts come from?

In cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is an evidence-based therapeutic modality for reducing anxiety, core beliefs are thought to underlie automatic thoughts.

Interestingly, I’d argue that beliefs are thoughts we’ve decided to “install” in our brains to help us process life. Julie Simmons, a licensed therapist, explains this point below:

As such, beliefs are thoughts that have been repeated and practiced so many times internally and externally for so long that they have become an automatic and embedded part of our “knowing.
…In other words, beliefs are thoughts we believe so strongly and have thought so frequently that our mind no longer recognizes them as thoughts, but instead as truths. In much the same way we don’t question the sun setting in the evening and rising in the morning, beliefs are accepted without question. They are assumed to be true and therefore, not challenged. And without conscious investigation into the validity of our beliefs, we will continue to accept them as such, even if they are wildly illogical and wreak havoc on our emotional lives.

Julie M. Simmons, LCSW – What Is The Difference Between Belief and Thought

In cognitive behavioral therapy, beliefs are defined as:

  1. A belief is a deeply ingrained thought;
  2. A belief is a chronically practiced thought;
  3. A belief is a thought that has been practiced regularly enough, frequently enough, and intensely enough.
Mardoche Sidor, M.D. and Karen Dubin, Ph.D., LCSW – CBT and Beliefs

So next time you see someone like Psychiatrist David Burns put forward a statement like:

Your feeling result entirely from how you’re thinking right now. It is your thoughts, not the circumstances of your life, that create all of your feelings. You FEEL the way you THINK.

David Burns, Psychiatrist – Feeling Great: The Revolutionary New Treatment for Depression and Anxiety

I think you’ll know that we can change how we think by changing what we believe.

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