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Lelalelei F. Nomura, MAEd, PPC, is a mental health therapist at Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center.

If I were being honest, the hardest part about writing this article was choosing what to write about. Is there a thing as too many options?

As I’m brainstorming, a month in advance I might add, I was constantly coming up with obstacles about why I shouldn’t write about a specific topic. I thought, what gives me the right to talk about that? Who wants to hear what I have to say? You’re a terrible writer anyway. I could hear my thoughts slowly dragging me down.

My coworkers didn’t seem to have any trouble writing their articles, why am I having such difficulties? I’m not smart enough. After this rush of thoughts, I’m left feeling defeated, exhausted and worthless.

What was my solution you ask? I did everything in my power to avoid the whole situation. As a therapist with a master’s in clinical mental health counseling, I knew this was only a short-term solution and eventually I was going to have to face the consequences of my avoidance.

I think we find ourselves in this predicament more often than we’d like to think. Maybe not this exact scenario, but you get my drift. Negative self-talk brings unpleasant feelings, which often leads to avoidance. What I’ve learned is that our thoughts can influence our feelings and our feelings influence our actions. People and situations don’t make us feel a certain way. It’s how we interpret — or think about — those events that makes all the difference.

Let’s try an exercise. Close your eyes. Picture an elephant. Can you do it? If you know what an elephant looks like, then you’re most likely able to conjure up an image.

Now, I want you to feel enraged. Can you do it? What did you have to do to feel that way? You had to think about something that would help you get there.

As illustrated in this exercise, our feelings can be influenced through our thoughts and since we do have some control over how we think, then we must have some power to influence how we feel.

Of course, life isn’t as simple as this little exercise is it? It comes with variables and factors that we don’t always have control over. But if we can become curious about how we think, we are able to experience life in a new perspective.

After shifting my thoughts from worthless and not enough to letting go of the need to be perfect and caring about how others might think of me, I’m left with a half decent article. What do you notice about your thoughts? How do they influence your feelings and actions? Are you able to see a new perspective?

Lelalelei F. Nomura, MAEd, PPC, is a mental health therapist at Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center.

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