People with difficult feelings like anxiety or depression often believe what they think. This is a common and dangerous trap that most people fall into from time to time. Here’s a phrase that I find myself using over and over with my clients and with myself:


Simple right? Well, not that simple. We all get into thinking habits like “I’m not good enough,” or “I’ll never find anyone that will understand me,” or “If I touch that doorknob I’ll probably get sick,” or, “If only I could save more money I’d be happy.”

If you have thoughts like those you might feel depressed or anxious. Learning to not believe what you think takes practice (and often therapy). But for now, let’s play a game. Say out loud the following: “I’m turning green.” How does that make you feel? Well, you’re not thinking that thought hard enough. Say the thoughts with force, “I’m really turning green. Right now! Really, really green. I truly am.”

So, are you turning green? You said you were turning green. And you’re not. Hmmm. People have thoughts for lots of reasons. They may have thoughts that sound similar to messages that were given to them by people around them (like mothers, fathers, teachers, or friends). They might have thoughts related to experiences they have had in the past (like losing someone important, getting ill, or failing at something). Some thoughts just seem to happen for no obvious reason.

People don’t have to understand the reason they have thoughts in order to do battle with them. They can identify thoughts that do them no good and learn to not give them too much credit. Thoughts are just thoughts.

Oops, are you turning green yet?

Green light photo available from Shutterstock.



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    Last reviewed: 11 Apr 2012

APA Reference
Smith, L. (2012). The Truth About Thoughts. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 29, 2015, from


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Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. and Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D. are authors of many books, including Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies and Child Psychology & Development for Dummies.

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