by Ketina Mugwisa
Have you ever noticed the impact of your thoughts on what you do?
The way we think shapes our responses to life. Our behavior follows what is in our minds, what we believe, and the way we evaluate events and problems. Our self-talk (internal monologue) largely shapes our emotions. Negative thoughts profoundly impact our moods and behavioral choices which impact our self-esteem. Thoughts and feelings combined make up a personal character. Reconstructing our thinking can change us for the better. Remember there is always someone who will sit and listen to your story in a nonjudgmental way and give you comfort and this should not go unappreciated.
Well! That was my personal experience when I first come to the university.
I hated varsity for almost three-quarters of my first semester there. I had been offered Psychology for undergrad studies instead of what I wanted, Social Work. I felt trapped, psychology didn’t resonate with me, I couldn’t see it in my life. I didn’t see a point in trying to believing that I could make it with a psychology degree. I refused to even research about it and lecturers sounded like Greek to me. If someone had asked me what psychology was all about, I couldn’t even explain until 2 weeks before end of semester exam. Can you imagine!
HOW IT ALL CHANGED
I first encountered the Friendship Bench on World Mental Health Day when they came to speak at my uni. I got a chance to talk to one of its members, Tiny, who showed me that psychology wasn’t so bad after all and that if I took time some time to reflect, the Greek would eventually make sense to me. After sharing with him what I was going through, he helped me understand and become aware of my own negative thoughts, and how I had been limiting myself with my own beliefs and cognitive distortions. He encouraged me to view life with an open mind just like psychology encourages us to do. And to try and replace my negative thought with more positive, noble, lovely, and admirable thoughts. He helped me realize that by making a choice to change how I viewed things it was giving me courage and strength a lesson I would later make a person mandate in my life, to always give things a chance!
PSYCHOLOGY AND THEOLOGY PLAYING OUT IN MY LIFE
I have always been a person of ‘Faith’ and faith has always helped me redirect from my own shortcomings and weakness and pointed me towards power that I never knew I possessed. As such the spiritual part of my experience is a viable source of inspiration and strength that has helped me attain a positive change in my life. As I began to give psychology a chance, I began to notice some subtle similarities between psychology and religious theology. I realized that although history has repeatedly pitted them against one another their message was the same, the only difference was the messenger. Looked at from an objective perspective religious behavior and religious belief are based on various models of human nature and many psychological concepts. Just like how psychology encourages people to feel good about themselves and become overwhelmed by emotions, such as fear, anger, guilt, or anxiety, religion promotes love, happiness and companionship, and above all something to believe in.
MAKE A CHOICE
The Creator, as I believe him to be, is said to have given us humans free will, the power of choice which enables us to choose the way we think and reason. You can’t control obstacles life sets for you, but you can control how you overcome them. Change begins with a choice and happens when you realize that you’re not a passive victim of life but you have the power to take responsibility for your own mental health by choosing to think positively. Life is a precious gift, you must cherish it and care for it and that also includes your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. If you feel under pressure, scared beyond measure, or lost close treasure only remember you are not defined by circumstances and you can’t limit yourself despite what people might say. You have the power to create a different story about yourself not as a victim but as a conqueror and by normalizing positive thinking, you normalize victory.
I would like to end by quoting William James regarded as the father of American Psychology’s life-changing words which say;
It is never too late nor too early to change the way you think!